Los Angeles-based artist and AM friend Roland Tamayo is set to open his part of a four-person show at Gallery 1988 in SF this Friday night, February 5th (7-10pm). The show entitled “Whispers” will also include Tin (interviewed), Kendra Binney, and May Ann Licudine.
We took some time to talk with Roland to learn more about him and this new body of work. He tells us that he finds beauty in both nature and in what man can create leading to a juxtaposition of both worlds in his paintings. Check out some more preview images as well as the full interview after the jump…
Arrested Motion (AM): Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background. Any formal art training?
Roland Tamayo (RT): I can tell you that having a career in art was the last thing I ever thought of as a kid. I think I took one art class in high school. But I do remember doodling like crazy in class throughout grade school and high school. I did start pretty young. My buddy Mike often reminds me that I got into trouble in first grade because I distracted the whole class drawing Boba Fett one day.
I went to a small high school where it was cool to be in band and choir, and a lot of the kids wanted to go into the medical field one way or another. Sure, I was in band and choir and enjoyed it, but my desire to get into dentistry is where I went wrong. Can’t say I regret it too much. I learned valuable lessons along the way. So, to make a long story short, after taking classes to prepare myself to get into dental school, I eventually made the decision that dentistry was not for me. I followed my heart and was later accepted at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and graduated with a BFA in Illustration, and had a career in the video game industry.
AM: Was there a specific theme or concept behind this new body of work for G1988?
RT: I’m going with similar themes as I did before, but with these paintings I experimented with more of a white background. I know it’s not a new thing, but new to me. I have always liked the aesthetic of the white backdrop which to me, allows more of a focus on the main subject. I also enjoy painting clouds, so that allows them to sand out in the space a bit more. The white also let’s me play more with negative and positive shapes. It’s a start of a new year and decade, so I’m thinking this subtle direction could be a bit of a rebirth for my art.
AM: Alot of your paintings deal with a juxtaposition of different worlds such as plants versus animals, natural world versus mechanical/industrial world. What is it about this blending that interests you and is there a specific message behind our signature imagery?
RT: There is beauty in nature and beauty in what man can create. I find odd beauty in mechanical and industrial objects. The rust and decay of things give character to surfaces. Technology obviously can have it’s negatives, especially when it comes to our environment, but it is also necessary for us. There needs to be a better balance of things. So with the imagery, I try to create a balance there. I enjoy the contrast of things that don’t belong together, the hardness of metal next to the smoothness of whale skin as an example. There can be simple and interesting stories told combining things that don’t make sense.
To tell you the truth, there is nothing overly deep that I think of while painting. I don’t have a doom and gloom attitude over things about man versus nature or how the environment around us is getting worse. I do think about it though, but I don’t try to depress the viewer too much about that. I have always loved the stories that nature gives us. At its most fundamental, nature often parallels the stories that we have as human beings. For me, it’s only natural to combine the two.
AM: We read your profile with Hurley where you were quoted as saying that some of your art is inspired by “fishing – on boats, piers, barges, in lakes and streams” when you were growing up. We can definitely see this play out in your paintings with all the marine life (with a twist), but any other influences? Any artists that you admire?
RT: Artistic influences include Hayao Miyazaki and his films, and other anime films such Akira and Tekkonkinkreet. Also visionary architects such as Lebbeus Woods, to Japanese artists like Katsua Terada and Tatsuyuki Tanaka inspire me. Another form of artistry I love are in video games. The potential to create beautiful worlds in games is why I got involved in the industry in the first place. Also I admire other friends who are involved in our art scene, who like me, started our art in other industries. Good guys that through hard work and being kind, have made a name for themselves. Guys like Edwin Ushiro and Ruel Pascual.
AM: Congratulations on being a new father to twins (born over a year ago)! How has this changed the direction of your art, if any?
RT: Thank you very much! Like I suggested earlier, I don’t try to over think a concept for a painting and insert a ton of meaningful symbolism. These are just simple thoughts that run in my head. Obviously with the birth of my boys, I think about them all the time, so it’s natural to have my art focused more towards my thoughts on fatherhood and my deep love for them. I feel like I’m going in a similar direction since they were born, just a more meaningful one now.
AM: Well, thanks for you time Roland and best of luck with your show.