ARTisSpectrum Vol.30, November 2013 - page 74-75

ARTisSpectrum | Volume 30 |
ARTisSpectrum | Volume 30 |
ames Beleña-Condé
approaches painting like a matador in bullfight: as a test of skill and machismo, a way for the artist
to conquer death. Perhaps this accounts for the feeling of legacy in Beleña-Condé’s work that seems to reach back to the
beginnings of modern art and the painters that inspired Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet. Like both of those famous
artists, Beleña-Condé addresses his own mortality in much of his work. “Staring mortality in the face, every single day—that’s
really the subject of the latest series, and probably the essence of all my work,” he says.
There is indeed a sense of loneliness and isolation that pervades his work, as well as a quiet curiosity. With a dark palette
and seemingly unidealized subjects, one might at first assume Beleña-Condé is a realist painter. In fact, he says, “much of my
work is composed of dream imagery and is only faintly realist.” His tempera works tend to be brighter and less spartan than
his oil paintings, focusing on still lifes, but still utilizing elegant compositional elements and a sense of mystery. It is difficult
not to wonder about the before-and-after stories of each subject, to form one’s own narrative for Beleña-Condé’s paintings.
A Brooklyn-born artist and first generation American who attended the Pratt Institute and the Art Students League of New
York, Beleña-Condé is also strongly influenced by his Spanish roots. His still lifes in particular recall the slightly metaphysical
work of Spanish masters like Francisco de Zurbarán. It might be said that all of Beleña-Condé’s work is a still life, for whether
it captures the human figure or a piece of fruit, it preserves its subject forever. A conquering of death, indeed.
Vietnam Our 57000 Oil on Linen 47” x 37”
James in his Studio
Drying In the Sun Egg Tempera & Oil on Watercolor Paper 14” x 18”
Mario Schaeffer
comes from a long line
of artists: his father, grandfather, and two uncles
were all painters. Schaeffer describes himself as being
“...brought up feeling that art was part of my life,
the smell of turpentine and oil paint stimulating my
imagination from a very young age.”
Schaeffer constantly experiments with new techniques,
solidifying his understanding of different painting
methods and styles within a series of three to five
works before moving on to new challenges. “I never
want to have the feeling [of] repeating myself... Every
painting should be unique,” he says. Because of this,
Schaeffer’s artistic style runs the gamut between
contemporary, figurative, conceptual and abstract.
The style of his work isn’t as important to Schaeffer
as expressing the passion of the moment through
color, perspective and composition. He prefers using
oil paints, combining them with other materials like
paste to create textures on the canvas. Occasionally
the chemicals in the paint and other materials react
with one another unexpectedly, an element of chance
that Schaeffer welcomes as part of his process.
Schaeffer’s highly textured and brightly colored
multimedia pieces are inspired by both Zen
meditation and music. Although Schaeffer does
not consider himself a Zen Buddhist, he does utilize
meditation to empty his mind before starting work
on a blank canvas. “...It lets me flow. The end result
is already there in a sense of the subconscious mind,”
he says. In addition, Schaeffer paints with music in the
background, letting it affect the outcome of his work
and influence the color of his paintings and his use of
brushstrokes. “...Any slow kind of blue note, soul jazz
or lounge jazz, makes things happen, so subconscious
and consciousness become one not influenced by the
hasty rhythm of the world.”
Mario Schaeffer
Mario in his Studio
Golden Gate 3D Painting, Mixed Media on Canvas 28” x 39.5”
Sun Burst 3D Painting, Mixed Media on Canvas 31.5” x 39.5”
“I never want to have the
feeling [of] repeating
myself... Every painting
should be unique”
James Beleña-Condé
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