Standing before a Victor Hugo Zayas painting, it is not surprising to learn that the artist extensively studied the works of Titian, Velazquez, Rembrandt and Goya as there is a clear homage to the old masters. Yet Zayas' paintings are more expressionistic and at first glance appear to have more in common with Jackson Pollock or the later work of J.M.W. Turner and his deft handling of light, than artists of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. Bold, liberal applications of paint dominant surfaces, that are thickly covered with many layers of oil paint, at times projecting more than an inch off the canvas. What at first may appear to be a monochromatic brush stroke actually reveals spectrums of paint folded together upon closer inspection.
In El Río, Zayas exhibits a selection of paintings that were drawn from his recent exhibition at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in California (see below for a Huffington Post review of that show, along with links to other recent press), featuring work documenting Zayas’ thirty year history painting the Los Angeles River. For Zayas the L.A. River has long been a place of solace and unexpected beauty, a realization that is become popular in present day L.A. where architect Frank Gehry has been hired as part of a $1.4 billion revitalization project for the maligned river. The river paintings are combined with Zayas’ continuing Grid Series- paintings of bold crisscrossing lines and planes that often read as abstracted landscapes with paint projecting more than an inch above the surface.
Victor Hugo Zayas was raised in Mazatlan, Mexico and today splits his time between studios in Los Angeles and Baja. Recent highlights include solo exhibitions at the Laguna Art Museum in Spring 2012 and Museum of Latin American Art (2015-2016) . His work is also included in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOLAA, Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo (Mexico City) and numerous other museums in the United States and Mexico.