In our micro-blog series, we feature one of our distinct Canadian artists taking part in Canvassed.
We have collaborated with these unique artists to interpret your floral arrangement into lasting compositions.
I’d like to welcome Jose Cifuentes to the collective of Canvassed artists! Jose is a mixed media abstract artist from Medellin, Colombia, who currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada.
When first connecting with Jose, I could feel something unique when I looked at his work. While he would describe his practice as a collection and portrayal of moods and faces that are in vivid, visceral paint strokes, loose lines, deliberate drips and passionate splatters; there is something much deeper to what he creates.
I learned that Jose draws from his experience as an immigrant in the U.S.A, and now Canada, to express the authenticity of artistic freedom and the emotional havoc that surrounds it. Born into a family of business administrators, he was the black sheep; The family artist, who performed poorly in school if the subject did not include something creative. Art has always played a huge role in his life to help navigate the difficult trauma he has experienced, more specifically, being labeled an "immigrant" early on in his life; a label that he has carried with him from Colombia to the USA, back to Colombia, and finally to Canada.
This label inspired a search for personal freedom and to heal a broken heart, which has manifested in finding his aesthetic, to grab what he had and use it to inspire others to be the version of themselves they wish and cherish deep inside. His paintings are varied visual representations of that exact freedom he craves, through a mixture of thick knife strokes and free-hand illustrations on canvas and recycled surfaces. Faces and abstractions always find their way into his work as a way to start personal conversations about uncomfortable truths and beautiful realizations. All of this comes together to create the ideal marriage of fine and urban art that moves you.
Jose chose to defy the odds by embracing the instability and struggles that come with being an immigrant. He challenged the pain and heartache to grow boldly, fearlessly, and freely; that life story strikes you immediately when you look at Jose’s paintings.
As a creative person myself, I understand that our past fuels many of our decisions and helps us to find our way, but, we are also beings who find new inspiration in the present, as we look to evolve into the future. When I asked Jose what inspires him today and how he gets his creative juices flowing, his response was:
Today, I am inspired by the collective call for freedom from things that go against our own very nature, to be one with nature and all human beings. Art inspires me to be free and inspire others to find their own freedom. To get the creative juices going I play some tunes and do a quick breathing exercise to let go of any tension and start painting, which I do everyday for the past fourteen years. My playlist goes from Jazz by any Bluenote artist all the way to The Beatles, Wu-Tang and Colombian Salsa, as long as it makes me feel something, I'm in.
This response made me even more excited to work with Jose! Learning that Jose finds a connection between today's inspiration and his continued desire to illustrate freedom, represents a true focus on one's art.
As you know from previous blog posts, I always have to ask why an artist decides to join Canvassed, and Jose’s response blew me away:
I believe that one has to have a purpose, a why, and everything that you do should be aligned with that purpose in mind. Canvassed has a clear, new idea that brings customers the freedom of having a floral arrangement to last a lifetime, supporting local artists in the process. My purpose is to inspire freedom, with my lines and strokes and every detail, and after looking at your arrangements I felt inspired to know more about it and be a part of it. Speaking to Andrea sealed the deal, her passion for Canvassed is something I could relate to without a doubt.
Lastly, Jose's life outside of art is pretty wonderful! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jose does not own a TV and as such, does not have a favorite show, he works gigs in production and creative consulting, and he has a beautiful wife and a couple of twin mutts that melt his heart--all those good things in life that we often take for granted!
While the label of “immigrant” might be the catalyst for Jose’s art, it has transformed into an insignia that has freed him to be Jose Cifuentes, the artist.
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