January 3rd, 2019
I started painting ideas, emotions, concepts, elaborated with research on the subject matter and on how to plastically express them. My subject matters clearly were derived from objects that retain strong references to the real world expecting to stimulate the thought to come up in controversy. My artwork was an answer to questions from the current social context, from the real world, incubated in my mind and carefully elaborated on canvas.
I have selected my visual language from art “ism” like figurative, and abstract as a tools or mechanism to represent my creation, for instance, the only way I found to paint Double Flame (one of my first paintings), which was conceived from La Llama Double, book by Octavio Paz, was mixing figurative + abstract + surrealism.
I have expressed my ideas with a map as art, and with iconic first nation symbols for my first solo show “And we Calle it Home”. The land was the subject matter (appropriation and eviction, unfair eviction) and how the land initially designated to agriculture or forest was used for real estate development because of the growing population and city expansion. I worked the second solo show in the same direction. I stated the idea that first nation fingerprinted on their land transcended time and their iconic symbols are represented in the way the streets were built in the City of Vancouver, specifically in the east side.
A new subject matter came relevant when people started asking about the way I manage my technical full-time job as an engineer and doing art. I elaborated my ideas with a series “The Edge of my Brain”, in which graphically represented the solution of mathematical equations or a graphic-colour of words in binary code.
I had missed the sculpture in my artistic practice and explored this field again mixing painting and sculpture. I created the series “Frontier” a triptych that includes 3D elements and as series bas-relief “Cabriole”, a white figure of dancers made on pure oil on canvas. These 3D representations have been more of an exploration to do a work between painting and sculpture.
I currently have been nesting the ideas from early nineteenth century about the role of art in creating beauty, and the voice of Emmanuel Kant about beauty “which without any concept is cognized as the object of necessary satisfaction” and on making art free from content and subject matter, to make the art real on its own qualities. I practically looking to be centred on the formalism of colour, composition, line, shape, texture and in some cases the social context. I currently do art to please my inner satisfaction to create forms no attached to a subject matter, and leaving the interpretation open, as Umberto Eco expressed as “open work”, leaving the viewer the completion of the artwork with one point in common, its inner essence of being liked.
My historical work on canvas has been an exploration of a detailed figurative art to a mix of figurative with abstract elements. I have selected different styles to represent my message and ideas, styles were more a tool than a way of doing my art. In the beginning, I expected controversial dialogue, conversation, the discussion around my pieces, and barely people read the statement, viewers want to see and express what they like, and walked away from “irrelevant”. The “Like” has become the way people “select” (no express) their position on something they see, it might be the influence of social media and the proliferation of images.
Juan E. Contreras
December 28th, 2018
CORNERSTONE- Vancouver Corner Store
I have seen many corner stores vanishing under new city developments. When I saw the decay of a corner store at Gilmore & Union Street in Burnaby I felt a deep nostalgia for my childhood. My grandparents and granduncles had corner stores, being in those spaces made a great impact on me. I vividly remember the noisy and crowded atmosphere, I can hear the laughter and feel the smells, and especially the aroma of big boxes filled with mangoes. Shopping malls, mega-commercial grocery centres, and power centres with stand-alone big-box format stores have dominated the shopping landscape for the last thirty years. With this we have seen a shift in the retail landscape away from local communities and neighbourhood shops, the emergence of 7/11s and other chain convenience stores have contributed to the decline of the neighbourhood corner stores.
In the article, A reincarnation of the corner market in Vancouver Frances Bula mentions that 180 possible corner groceries were identified and, not surprisingly, the mass majority on a high street or arterial avenue, in a non-residential zone. Of these 180 possible stores, only thirty-five were located within residential zones. It is interesting to note that the majority of residential corner groceries were located on the east side of the city and especially towards its northeast corner.
These 180 possible stores, only thirty-five were located within residential zones. It is interesting to note that the majority of residential corner groceries were located on the east side of the city and especially towards its northeast corner.
Identity and a sense of belonging are formed with the persistent experience of the places we inhabit. What effect does it have in a city the disappearance of unique places of exchange like the corner store, where there are no only goods being exchange, but also stories and ideas? Corner stores are, without a doubt, cornerstones of our communities; by documenting the ones that still stand I pay homage to my past while calling attention to changes we need to make to create a more inclusive future, where daily interaction in our communities and neighbourhoods can again be a welcomed reality. Reference: A reincarnation of the corner market in Vancouver, Frances Bula Vancouver – Special to The Global and Mail, Published Friday, May 24, 2013, 9:10 PM EDT. DETAILS OF THE ARTWORK. Digital Capture ( 11x17 inches print, 14x20 inches, framed) Injects printing on archival matte paper. Digital prints with archival-quality pigment-based inks.
December 28th, 2018
Cradle of Art (Emily Carr University's South Building) Cradle of Art is a photo series that through a nostalgic lens offers homage to a building that for decades housed and nurtured many artists in Vancouver. Emily Carr became part of Granville Island, on Johnson Street, in the 1980s, and in September 2017 the voices of students, teachers and staff who brought life to the building began to disappear as they migrated to modern classrooms in a smart building located in the former False Creek industrial land, southeast from Main Street.
Captured with a wide lens, and natural light in the golden hour, the images amplify sentimental longing, silence, and the expectation for a new day to come. The smell of oil paint and sawdust has vanished from the South Building, along with the exhibitions featuring the creativity and innovative works ranging from design, media and visual arts graduates. All of it is now history for many Emily Carr alumni.
More about the South Building: Designed by Patkau Architects, an international firm based in Vancouver, BC, the Emily Carr University South Building was completed in 1993. Home to blossoming visual artists, the building housed a Library at the street level, as well as classrooms and spacious studios with natural light, a large theatre for lectures, art discussion, and shows, administrative offices, and learning spaces for vocational courses and classes in woodworking and industrial design.
Sources: Repurposing Strategy for ECUAD buildings at Granville Island June 2014. A first look at Emily Carr University of Art and Design's new campus, by Kate Wilson on August 31st, 2017. The Georgia Straight. Granville Island expects to thrive despite the loss of Emily Carr University, KEVIN GRIFFIN Updated: September 6, 2017. Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Article by Russell Bingham. Updated by Daniel Baird, Date Published July 18, 2012, Last Edited September 12, 2017.