Larraz’s Painting

/ 1 September, 2018

Julio Larraz is part of a group of Cuban-American artists whose formation, development, and the major part of his life have taken place outside the island. Formally and conceptually his work is connected to the school of American realism. His art is international, it has no ideological or geographical intention, he rather registers the universal concerns of human beings.

Larraz was born in Havana in 1944. In 1961 his family moved to Miami; the following year to Washington D.C.; and in 1964 to New York. His artistic career began in this city as a caricaturist, and his caricatures were published by several important newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Although he was not formed in an art school, Larraz credits artists David Levine (1926.2009), Burt Silverman (1928- ) and Aaron Shikler (1922-2015) for what he is. He worked with and learned from them in different stages of his formation. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why in his work the influence of American realism can be clearly seen. The work of painters like Edward Hopper (1882-1967) and Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) are fundamental to appreciate the context in which Larraz was formed as an artist. He started painting fulltime in 1967 and in 1971 he already had his fist personal exhibition. After that came many more, ranking him in a privileged place among the most successful contemporary artists.

Larraz’s paintings stand out for their unusual compositions, above all for formal elements owed to photography, like the framing and the cuts in the images. (…) A considerable part of his work consists of landscapes where man’s presence is rather implicit. These apparently serene scenes become enigmatic and disturbing in a second reading.

The treatment of light becomes one of the central aspects of several of his compositions. Above all, in those in which he represents the sea, in which he is able to paint the transparency of the waters in an almost tactile way.

(…) Larraz’s work is atemporal, and when he chooses a historic event (…), like for example the much controversial colonization of the Americas, he does it in an impartial way. (…) In general, his work has an enigmatic and at the same time sublime quality. (…) His images seem to be in another dimension, which is the result of this combination between what exists and what is an illusion, which is why they simultaneously possess that mystery of the known and the unknown.

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