The blessed intoxication of Sublime

11 [HH] Art Gallery
Sep 27, 2021 11:29PM

Real, surreal, dreamlike. Ultramundane visions in the art of Luis E. Toledo.

Luis E. Toledo at work in his atelier.

Born in Santa Clara in Cuba in 1989, Luis E. Toledo opens a door to a dreamlike magical world, where he creates a parallel universe, a personal reflection of reality. Early Renaissance meets surrealism in his canvas, where the esoteric nature of his painterly realm reveals the complexity of the human soul. The characters living there emerge from a personal unconscious state, converging in this arcane world where they have conflicts, express their different ideas in their own language, have traditions and goals; all based on their individual essence. “Not satisfied by the world we live in, I create a surreal refuge that helps me face everyday life… For me, every piece is a representation of a living memory."

"I remove organic and physical presences from my world and transfer them into this magical place as a creative recourse”.

"Iluminada 2". Gold 23 carats, silver, oil on wood panel, 20x24 in.

Luis transforms his blank canvases into dizzyingly detailed, utterly decadent worlds that reveal “how I look at life and how my mindscapes work.” His enigmatic muses stare indecipherably at us behind the astoundingly seductive drape of fabric, elaborate tapestries of kaleidoscopic butterflies, blooms, birds, floral headdresses accented with gravity-defying citrus fruits, and the occasional crescent moon nestled into a cage, as if they were rapt in some ultramundane contemplation.

"Atrapando un sueño". Oil on canvas, 36x24 in.

Luis E. Toledo diaphanous beauties embody the disembodied essence of the Sublime. They are as remote and precious as arcane jewels enclosed in their chest of studded medallions, embroidered silken ribbons, and all of the alluring frippery that we typically associate with the Golden Age. During his pre-sketching process, Luis actually uses historical garment references. The costuming worn by his muses, however, is his radical overhaul, and reflects his ideal of impermanent and ageless beauty which is both fleshy and ultramundane.

The result is an image that is both attracting and eschewing, at the same time alluring you into and pushing you away. The elusive mystery of these unearthy beauties has somehow uncanny and creepy, the palpable sense that all is not quite right – even within a visually enchanting world.

"Tal vez nos sobre la noche". Oil on canvas, 48x60 in.

Luis believes that the influence received during childhood and throughout the years is relevant for one’s personal growth. As a child, he saw his father study the great artists from the Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque among others. At the same time, his imagination expanded seeing his mother giving life to characters from short stories and comic books. As an actress performing in children’s theaters, her ability to communicate through puppets and marionettes foster Luis’ need to find spaces beyond reality. His grandmother’s children’s stories also influenced him; in them, we often held the leading roles. The series “A dream within a dream” births these characters by connecting ideas from the artist’s imagination with their own thoughts and desires.

"Fabulacion de un sueño". Oil on canvas, 48x60 in.

When asked if he knew he’d become a painter, Luis emphatically states, “Absolutely not.”

His accomplished classical surrealist painter father, Enrique, passed his knowledge to Luis as a teacher, showing him the processes with painting techniques, glazes, color, textures. But despite his family’s ongoing encouragement, there was a point when his father had all but given up on the hope that he would apply himself artistically.

Luis E Toledo in his atelier working on "Evocacion de una noche". Oil on linen, 52x72 in.

Everything changed when Luis turned 15. His desire to create art really began to take root. When the time came to narrow his focus, he attended an art-based high school with the intention of transitioning to music. But when he started his second year, "I realized that I wanted to be a painter more than I ever wanted to be a musician,” Luis admits. “From that point on, I never looked back."

At the top of his class, Luis E. Toledo ended up obtaining formal training as an art instructor. That partially explains why his work is so technically elaborate. His painting skills were unquestionably augmented, however, by his father, who gamely showed his son all of the tricks of the trade. But even with Enrique’s expert guidance, Luis stresses that it was absolutely necessary for him to find his own unique artistic flair through “years of trial, error, and absolutely demolishing canvases, coupled with innumerable failed attempts"T

"There is no easy way of finding your signature aesthetic. Sustained effort and hard work are necessary."

"Mis ùltimos delirios". Oil on linen, 72x48 in.

When Luis considers what it was like to sell his first painting at the age of 19, he quickly recounts the “chills and the adrenaline rush” of that experience. For the first time, he recognized that he “was creating something not only with sentimental value but monetary value, as well.” Today, his works are sold-out before he has removed the brush from the canvas. Collectors must arm themselves with perseverance, and wait patiently (the waiting list often exceed the year!) until Luis brings out of his atelier another of his equisite magic in oil colors.

"The mistress of mantle". Oil on canvas, 48x60 in.

Find more on Luis E. Toledo on Artsy:

(This article is partially based on: Elizah Leigh, "The Opulent Refuge of Luis E. Toledo del Rio’s Surreal Imaginings", May 18th, 2021)

Awards, Mentions & Publications:

2018 Publication in front Ccover COCO magazine

2017 Publication in “Estatusuio” magazine Ecuador

2017 Publication in “Estatusuio” magazine Ecuador

2016 Publication in “ Luxury The Art Issue” magazine EEUU

2016 Publication in “ Opulence’’ magazine EEUU

2016 Publication in “Art World news” magazine EEUU

2015 Participación en el documental de arte cubano “Alumbrones” realizado en Ciudad Habana, Cuba, se hizo el lanzamiento en EE UU

2015 Publicación en la portada del “The Wall Street Journal”, EE UU

2015 Publication in “Opulence Extreme Cuisine’’ magazine EEUU

2010 Colaboración con la revista “Guamo” Centro de investigación “Samuel Feijoo” de Santa Clara. Villa Clara, Cuba

2010 Colaboración con la revista “Guamo” Centro de investigación “Samuel Feijoo” de Santa Clara. Villa Clara, Cuba

2009 Gran premio en el 7 salón en la Escuela de Instructores de Arte “Manuel Ascunce Domenech” Santa Clara. Villa Clara, Cuba

2008 Premio y mención en el 6to Salón en la Escuela de Instructores de Arte “Manuel Ascunce Domenech” Santa Clara. Villa Clara, Cuba

11 [HH] Art Gallery