The Colourful & Surreal Bird Paintings of Frank Gonzales
Frank Gonzales’ new body of work takes his famous bird paintings and adds a new, colourful dimension to them. Graceful species such as owls, hawks, and smaller birds are set against vibrant backdrops of coloured streaks and bright, acrylic plants. The added surreal element to his works showcase colour palettes that aren’t often found in nature and pairs them up with the more muted browns and greys of birds.
For Frank Gonzales, his work is about personalizing nature. “My work is about taking forms in nature and making them my own,” he says, adding that he doesn’t think he’s doing anything new, but is instead using the voice of colour, composition, and fragmentation to create new worlds and scenes that make viewers think. “My aim is to speak about these known elements and present them from a different perspective,” he says.
His current body of work is dedicated to exploring the technique of mark making and placing a heavy emphasis on background elements to create a juxtaposition between manmade and nature. It’s an exciting concept. “It’s like revisiting rudiments from earlier works, but with more life under my belt,” Gonzales says.
More recently, there has been an increase of desert botanicals appearing in Gonzales work. The artist’s love of the desert re-ignited when he moved to live on the east coast – the absence of the sands and succulents really made an impact on his artwork. “It was something I took for granted as a kid growing up,” he says. “When I moved back home to AZ, a lot of cacti and succulents started to creep into the work.” He adds that he is very receptive to what’s around him, while his interests and the subjects of his work evolve with his surroundings. “I’m not sure where this will go,” he says of his latest body of work, “but the uncertainty is needed for me to grow.”
As well as drawing inspiration from desert landscapes, Gonzales is a keen experimenter. “I come from a figurative background,” he admits. “I think for me; I didn’t have much to say with it after a while.” He confesses that he is still very much into the skill behind structural drawings, but he came across his current style after a lot of “playing and experimentation and being receptive.”
And when it comes to process, Frank Gonzales is very spontaneous in his approach. He tries not to overthink the compositions and design before he begins. Instead, he enjoys watching the piece grow with each colour or each image.
To nail the figurative birds, he references visual information from books and images he finds on the internet, bringing them together to produce scenes that probably would never happen in real life. “One image will spark another and the process takes shape from there,” Gonzales says. “I find this way of working to be both exciting and uncertain. My various marks and colour glitches mimic this uncertainty resulting in visual stillness and movement.”
The resulting body of work is predominantly created in acrylics and offers glimmers of old masters with a solid contemporary touch that references innovative techniques and inspiration from the graphic design world.
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