Miguel Angel Reyes

My interest in art is threefold: I have a commitment to craftsmanship, a love of earth-tone colors, and the conviction that making art is an act of devotion that has the capability to trigger something similar in viewers. My approach to product is schizophrenic, having produced photo-realistic portraits and still lifes, abstract works, collages, and multiple prints.

The portraits were always a way to document people who surrounded me, beginning in college and continuing to the present. I painted them in a simple, straightforward fashion.

The collages were a minimal part of my work at the beginning of my career, but have quickly become a major way to relieve the stress of painting. Collage is a completely different approach to the art-making process.

My abstract painting was an accident resulting from the variation of the overlays of my collages. About 1995-96 I began recreating some of my smaller collages into larger abstract acrylic paintings. In 1997 I realized I needed to re-educate myself, and I took off a couple of years to reinvent the manner in which I was creating art. At the same time I was producing commercial work for hire, or experimenting with work that challenged me technically.

In 1998 I decided to combine all of the styles (i.e. portrait paintings, collages, and abstracts), and in 2000 they came together on canvas. My portraits with "empty" backgrounds now appear in "painterly" backgrounds in interior rooms, streets, and natural landscapes, all created in earth-tone colors reminiscent of the classic Mexican muralists. Abstract overlays, or "foregrounds," float between the canvas portrait and the viewer. The process of the painting is a singular progression utilizing the design aspect of collage preparation. Portraits that were earlier straightforward and confrontational now bring the viewer into a narrative of solitude, longing, and sensuality.

The truth is what I try to portray in my paintings: the neutrality of a person, the somberness expressed in the subtle looks, reflects the somber times in which we live. The portraits are reminiscent of photographs used in official documents, and are representative of real people, not of icons or superior beings. I'm interested in doing a likeness that is both technically proficient and esthetically appealing.

My most recent work combines abstract background, realist portraiture/figures, and scientific color combinations. These images create story lines and encourage others to do the same, a sort of interactive painting much influenced by documentary photography and digital culture. The combination of styles on a single canvas has been influenced by my fascination with John Singer Sargent, Nan Goldin, computer generated graphics, and nightlife.

In the future, I hope to create work that continues to develop the fusion of all that interests me. Portraiture and figurative work will always be at the forefront of my imagery.

3:00 AM (2000)

In 3:00 AM, my attempt is to create the emotion and portray layered images as seen in music videos. The collage style gives the piece the look and feel of a suspense thriller that takes place in the middle of the night. There are two people who are unaware of each other, but share a similar emotion of loneliness, anxiousness, and insomnia.

José (1993)

José is a painting that was done from a series of photographs that I took of the patrons at Circus Disco back in 1992. I was trying to recreate a classical feeling with the technique, the round format, and by painting a normal East Los Angeles gang member as royalty was depicted in the past.