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How much does your home, Puerto Rico, factor into your work?
I have a boat like this one (points to a large painting of a boat
) that I use every time I go there to go fishing for a little while. And I love the ocean, I love surfing. A lot of the work, most of it is very, very personal, a lot of references to home. It's weird for me doing stuff that is so personal, I don't know how I feel about it, so the process kind of breaks that a little bit. But even this piece with the chandelier that says "fake gold." The whole fake gold thing runs in my family, which is a lower-middle class family, using a lot of fake gold around the house that makes them feel really prestigious. They don't have a granite-top counter, they just got a piece of wood and contact paper with a marble print, and it looked gorgeous. And I think that's beautiful. It shows a lot of pride and interesting creativity, and this idea of the middle class, like it's the middle but they're happy with it: fake flowers, fake contact paper, fake gold, fake jewelry, and it's still gorgeous. So I play a lot with that sort of subject matter.
Is there anything that attracts you to chandeliers specifically, I'm noticing at least a couple here.
I like them and people use them a lot in art history, making sculptures out of them. I just think it's such a gorgeous thing, but to be honest it's mostly because of the chandelier at home. A lot of elements are just elements that are back at home. I had always thought that I didn't grow up with art because my family never encouraged me, there were no art books or anything. But at school I started thinking, "what can I consider art around me, now that I really know?" And it went from me making drawings of the pattern of the fence outside, which was abstract; the chandelier was kind of baroque, or fake baroque; the bed, this is my grandmother's bed actually, and it has all these plants on it. This is from a memory of me as a kid. The people who lived upstairs apparently left the water running in their shower, so I was sleeping when I started seeing all these drops falling from the ceiling and I thought it was gorgeous because I wasn't sure what was happening, like it was pretty much raining. And then my grandmother flipped out and started putting all the plants on top of the bed so she could clean, and so it's pretty much about that. A lot of the figurative elements like that come from my memories of home.
I put a lot of hidden details into the paintings, and if people perceive some kind of narrative that's good, but the honest part is that I'm not really trying to tell stories at all. I know there are things that can cause you to read something in a specific way, but I'm really not trying to do that. That's more for me. I like people to see the process and the imagery, and if they perceive some sort of things it's beautiful.
That makes me think of Louise Bourgeois, whose art was so much about her personal life, but then people look at her work and see themselves in it.
Yeah, that's funny, I just saw this interview with... I forgot his name, but he's asking her, "So the spider has to do with this," and he's using all these huge words and she's like: "It's really just about my mother." And he's like, "No, but I can see that you..." "No, it's just about my mother." He kept going and then at the end she's like: "Okay, so it's about all that, fine." It's true, that happens a lot. Some people find this amazing, very ambitious and heavy meaning, and sometimes it starts from the most minimal thing. That happens to me a lot, and it just becomes this crazy stuff that people read in many, many ways, but really it's just about my grandma's plants and her cuckoo-ness.