Before introducing you to the incredible artist that I was fortunate enough to interview this past week I want to make a personal statement. The reason I have been remiss in my writing this year is because I have had quite a few drastic changes in my life. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Flagler College in St. Augustine Florida in the Spring and then I moved to Long Island to intern at Nordstrom where I currently work full time. Never-the-less despite all the tumultuous events of 2015 thus far one aspect that has remained completely the same in my life is my ardent love for finding new art. So without further ado, let me introduce a recent new friend of mine, artist Jenri Gonzalez.
Jenri is a 26 year old New York native who works primarily with acrylics, oils and pastels. His work is very self-reflective in nature and he tends to employ his own visage in his work, making each piece seem like a screenshot of his everyday life and inspirations. I was fortunate enough to convince Jenri to talk with me about his magnificent work and what inspires him to create it:
Me: What drives you? What made you want to be an artist?
Jenri: Life, Life drives me I’ve lived so much of it and experienced it that Life is My masterpiece.
M: What is the process behind each piece? What goes into creating one?
J: Well recently my works have become premonitions I paint what I dream or how I feel so I always have paints and canvases everything I do is spontaneous. I always felt that being in the moment is better then planning it out with art. Capture the moment, feel it and truly embrace it.
M: What is your biggest inpiration for your work?
J: My biggest inspiration is what I’ve seen and felt in my life. I always paint what I feel or what I have envisioned.
M: Who are some of your favorite artists and how do they inspire your work (if at all)?
J: My favorite artists are Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh. they Lived such painful lives but put what they felt on canvas and created some of the most memorable and hauntingly beautiful images in art history. A little bit of anime Pokemon and Tenchi Muyo have had some influence on me, I’ve always appreciated the style and colors when I watched them growing up. Cartoonist David Gonzales, he’s an inspiration to me just seeing how far he has come and being proud of who you are and where you come from, and turning it into something positive. I’m a big fan and somewhere in my draws are a couple of the homies. I’ve also always looked up to Selena Quntanilla I listen to her songs when I paint. She worked so hard and has opened the doors for us Latinos in the music industry so I have to give her a shout out just because I look up to her for her work ethic and for making her dreams come true.
M: A lot of your work (like Selfish, Remember Me, The Broken Man) seems to be tragic and introspective in nature, can you explain why this seems to be the case?
J: Selfish is about fighting myself, I am my best friend but I am also My own worst enemy. So with me it’s a constant struggle, I’ve been taught that being selfish is a bad thing but being a doormat is something undesirable so finding a balance is something that I struggled to work on in my past. The broken man is the story of the bonding with me and a bird I found on the street, I’ve always associated myself and identified myself with birds. They are the symbol of freedom, I told everyone that if I couldn’t be an artist then I wanted to be a bird. I would always look outside at them when I was in school and for a long time I envied their freedom. Anyway going back to the broken man, I had just come out of a really bad time in my life, poor choices and lack of good friends destroyed me on the inside and for a long time I felt shattered so finding this bird on the street with a broken wing was a sign from the universe. I took him home with me I cleaned him up and helped him heal. One day I looked at him and really looked at him and stared into his eyes and In that moment I understood him and how him and I both were feeling, and then the broken man was born out of that experience. Remember me comes from a vision I had where I began to fade away into the sky and I saw these beautiful birds fly with me and from what I could remember I was saying remember me, so that was the birth of “remember me”.
M: Each piece looks like it could be a scene from a larger narrative or epic, do you create a specific backstory for each work or is it just coincidence?
J: Each work is a moment in my life or a vision I have seen, the work that I have been putting out is my autobiography, sometimes I’m bad with words so I paint what I feel and see.
M: You have had a couple of solo exhibitions and 23 group shows. Do you have any upcoming events or appearances you would like to talk about?
J: I’m currently working on new solo show and based on what my fans like on my page I will make more prints from this show. It’s great interacting with my fans since I have favorites, but my fans love other pieces and I never thought that they would be good enough just because sometimes I do ” joke art” which is like really simple work it’s a moment in my head. Like “sweet victory” I never thought it would catch on but it did so I’ve been selling more of that print. My website and fan page will announce anything upcoming so subscribe, press the like button, or press follow for anything new.
M: Finally, are you working on anything new that we can look forward to?
J: Actually yes, my new series is about starting over, like a rebirth and entering a new world. I’ve been dreaming a lot more, and my dreams have become very vivid. I dream of being in this forest that exists inside of a vagina, and it’s a new feeling, a feeling of peace. There’s a lot more nudity so I’m not too sure how much I can get away with on social media with showing it to you guys, but I’m going to give you a sneak peak at the new material.
I would like to sincerely thank Jenri for his time and for allowing me to preview some of his new work for my blog. Check out more of Jenri’s work below and on his website: http://jenrigonzalez.com for other works mentioned in this post i.e. “The Broken Man”