This exhibition celebrates Larraz as a painter and sculpture, presenting a vast selection of works that show the progression of his life from his childhood in Cuba through to the U.S. and a lifetime of travelling. Larraz paints deeply layered satires of art and life. He is a visual philosopher interchanging reality and imagination. Without being hyper-realistic, fragments of scenes are revealed with abundant descriptions. His paintings are dominated by imposing landscapes, powerful seas, enigmatic space scenes, and elegant individuals wearing resplendent attire that call into question the meaning of beauty.
Julio Larraz is best known for a distinctive, almost metaphysical approach to painting, each work exemplifies the artists’ master of dexterity through wide brushstrokes, exquisite use of color, and his unique way of seeing that lead him to create bewildering, surrealistic images that recall reality and everyday life. Each artwork reveals his subtle touch and is a unique journey into Larraz’s imagination where viewers are curious to interpret the visual metaphors.
Symbolism is key in Larraz’s work, whether it be a mere detail or certain look or gaze in the eyes of a character in his painting, his art is progressively suggestive and allures the viewer into his oeuvre. At times it seems is as though Larraz transmits his artistic energy into the characters on the canvas, as though he exists within their suspended thoughts and contradictions. As such, the viewer takes on both a contemplative and receptive role and is able to manifest a connection with both the artist and artwork.
The way in which Larraz frames his subjects is also important in understanding his pictorial language. Figures may appear deformed through color scheme or the application of paint, or through dilated proportions and inverted balances. Often Larraz will juxtapose objects with landscapes, contrasting reality with memory building dreamlike scenarios or apparitions, which appear to conceal intrinsic and profound meanings.
Though Larraz often alludes to the corruption of political and social power, the cropped compositions and obscured faces render the narratives of his paintings ambiguous. Concepts such as desire and the will to dominate manifest in a playful and at times grotesque fashion, and this pervasive sense of irony that echoes his early career as a caricaturist.
The Cuban master Julio Laraz is the undisputed master of realism, creating alienating and disquieting atmospheres, which are both poetic and profoundly real. Larraz conceives these works of art in his mind and manifests them in the physical realm, and once they are viewed, the viewer’s imagination retains them forever.