Jose Luis Lopez Galván: Interview with Mexican Surrealist Artist
Young Mexican painter, Jose Luis Lopez Galván is set to become one of the greatest artists of his generation. His body of work (focused on surreal depictions of human/animal hybrids and other unusual scenarios) keep growing day by day and impressing worldwide audiences – especially through the web. Recently, one of his paintings became the cover art for the album “Tellurian” by Swedish Prog metallers, Soen. While Galván prepares his next exhibit, Heavy Music Artwork interviewed him about his working ethics, artistic inclinations and opinions about the contemporary art scene.
HMA: Do you remember how your interest for visual arts began?
Jose Luis Lopez Galván: My interest in visual arts started pretty much at birth—from doing small drawings to having a taste for art, but I never dared to fully entering in the word of art up to 6 years ago approximately. I always thought that fine arts were for an elite with a certain culture. Now I know that this is not true, because I devote myself to arts now.
HMA: Do you have a formal education in visual arts?
JLG: Yes and No. My education is as a graphic designer, but previously, I had no contact with the artistic scene beyond the visits to museums or galleries. After taking a course in painting with artist Tito Magaña, I decided that I wanted to make a collection of 12 pieces and exhibit it without any specific reason. Now, I am working full-time for each exhibit.
HMA: One of your distinctive visual trademarks is to give animal attributes human figures and vice-versa. Your art also proposes animals acting like humans. From where it comes this interest for mixing the physical traits of both species in order to create something that is visually provocative and unique to a certain extent?
JLG: I have thought a lot about that. The first time they asked me about it I didn’t know what to respond, honestly I didn’t know. Now, I understand that better and I know that this is something natural. Somehow, not going to the Art school helped me to have a more honest voice, because I was not conditioned to make art and being told what to do. If we revisit ancient cultures where the art was generated from scratch, from the fantastic and the fascination with animals was already present. That always fascinated me and was natural to represent a broad amount of characters and not just focus on the human being as a model.
HMA: Because of this unusual mix, your work seems to explore the psyche of human nature, our animal side and our internal and social behavioral attitudes. Are you trying with your paintings to express something in particular about the human condition?
JLG: We must remember that I started as a spectator in the art, as well as the feedback was the most interesting thing for me. My work is very personal, only no one knows that I mean some things. But I like to play with the reactions, when it is possible i tried to do the more ambiguous as possible, the works that turns it on mirrors, when someone criticizes my work I can always see more about the critical of my own work.
HMA: If you have any, what artists or visual genres can you name as influences?
JLG: Artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso or Goya and the Baroque have been a great influence in part of my current work.
HMA: How would you describe your painting style, especially nowadays?
JLG: You could say it is very surreal, but it’s happening in a different dimension and not in a dream.
HMA: Is there any particular technique that you prefer to use when you paint?
JLG: The oil painting is my preferred technique and it allows me to work more comfortably.
HMA: One of your pieces, “Dinner Without Solomon”, was used as the cover art for Soen’s new album. How did that come to happen?
JLG: As many of the good things happening in my life, working hard and letting things happening. They were drawn to my work and contacted me through email. Fortunately one of them speaks very good Spanish which is my primary language. They were interested in other pieces but “Dinner without Solomon” was always their main cover choice.
HMA: Would you like to have more of your art being used as album covers? Would you consider to have a career strictly as an album cover designer?
JLG: I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to make a career out of that, at least not now. Working on my own paintings, engravings, drawings, etc with my deadlines and my own rules, it is very gratifying. But if my work can become an album cover for another good band, I’ll be happy with that.
HMA: Could you tell us about your current and future projects?
JLG: I’m just getting started with a new project for an exhibit. I’m very excited about it since I’m starting to change my work toward a style that I always wanted to do but I felt I didn’t have the required technical skills. It might be difficult to find a space for the next exhibit but I don’t worry about that. My commitment is to myself and the challenges that I have to take without fear.
HMA: Can you tell us more about the Mexican contemporary art scene, especially for artists like you, whose work is more oriented to be shown in galleries, exhibits, etc?
JLG: The artistic scene is very difficult everywhere. You have to convince through your work and it is increasingly difficult to maintain that level of honesty I told you about. The galleries and museums give their space to what is called ‘contemporary art’ according to the current fashion. If your work does not fit with the trend it becomes difficult. In addition, this kind of art that needs years to be achieved following your own rules. You can’t accommodate your pace to those of the museums, that normally you have to convince for exhibitions with a year or more in advance. It’s complicated when you sell your paintings to then gather them for an exhibit. Fortunately, the scene is changing and the Internet has become a great help for visual artists. This means that each one of my paintings reaches the world even before leaving my workshop.
Interview by Ramon Martos Garcia – Copyright 2015 © Heavy Music Artwork. All Rights Reserved.