How did you become an artist, and did you know early on that you would be in the arts, or did you begin as something else? Are there other artists in your family?
I was born in 1985 in Colonia, Uruguay – specifically in the city of Carmelo, which is situated on the shore of La Plata River. I was born prematurely, hardly breathing… in a way I was like a phoenix rising out of ashes to give the world the images of my fantasies, to bring beauty to the eyes of women and men who know how to see with their heart. Artistic expression has always interested me since I come from a family of writers: my father wrote folk songs, my mother poems, and my two sisters have both published books. In terms of plastic art, however, I am the only painter in the family. I remember that since an early age I would get a ball of mud and make replicas of whatever object there was in our yard…. I painted and I made castles out of books – and I enjoyed myself very much. Fortunately, I always had the support of my family. Motivation and enthusiasm are the most important things for children, while for adults it is the need for expression and communication of one’s true self that become the most important objectives in art, and have been the life force behind my artistic creations every single day. Art has always been present in my life. As a child I drew and painted. I remember when I was 7, I saw from a linguistics textbook an image that left a permanent mark on my life: it was a painting by Roberto Matta. I still vividly recall how I felt that day sitting at my desk, drowned in shock by those colors and shapes…
Each artist is so different when it comes to approaching their work. How do you approach your creation- can you elaborate on your working process?
I have never gone to art school – I am mostly self-taught, which is why I have a free-spirited approach in my work. When creating a new painting, I focus on freedom, fluidity, and movements… I do a dance before I paint – I usually do some kind of rituals before I create, and I usually paint after 2pm; my other ritual is listening to music to develop an approach to a new work – it can be ambient music (such as Kitaro), and lately I’ve also been listening to electronic music, sci-fi movie and video game soundtracks to get myself in the mood of creating fantastical pieces – if music be the food of imagination!
What are the primary themes of your work?
My works focus on the spiritual, the essential, on the cosmic union, the future…I aim to create paintings that can help the viewer in their spiritual growth, and I believe that to be the direction of art in this millennium – spiritual growth more than social or political critique, as art is an manifestation of the spirit, which is the truth and the future of art. There are lots of recurring elements in my works, such as transparencies, overlapping images or colors, repetitions of lines, elements and objects…Additionally, there are the weightless objects and elements, floating shapes, circles, spheres and cubes. Saturated colors and different color schemes can also be found in one painting, such as in the ones
of “La Nada en el Vacio”, which I started in 2011 and continues to work on until this day. One of the recurring themes in my work are images of a erotic, sensual character. In the majority of my works, elements alluding to feminine and masculine sexuality can be seen, resembling curves, ovaries, phallic symbols, and other visual narratives having to do with the concepts of fertility, reproduction and creation. I believe that sexual energy is one of the most important creative forces of the universe (a point also shared by Hindu teachings), and I represent this vital force in a physical way to capture and express the creative part of being and the divine spark in one’s self. I am most fascinated by sex–not only the carnal act between the animals that we are, but as a sacred act present in all creations. The word sex comes from Latin “sexus”, or “sectus”, meaning separation. Hence, it is an act that repeats itself perpetually to create and re-create, in the realms of math, physics, chemistry and even in the field of cosmology. If one looks close enough, there are sexual acts everywhere – not just in human beings, and it is beautiful, unique and good. Perhaps my point of view is inspired by Gurdjeff, who holds that all manifestations of self is sexual as sex is the most important prototype of the human machinery. I am also inspired by ancient civilizations, especially the ones buried underneath history – Incan, Egyptian, and Sumerian Civilizations. It seems that the true story of us humans is stranger than science fiction. I devour information on these forgotten histories insatiably, exploring mysteries, hidden worlds, aliens, parallel universes – topics of importance in life and yet no one seems to be interested in discussing or knowing, perhaps to escape from the constant prodding of the age-old question of where we came from, where we are going and who created life itself. In a nutshell, a constant theme of my work is life itself as it is manifested in nature, the universe (or universes) and the infinite worlds and dimensions of which we know nothing, towards which biology, science, art try to grapple… in a word, LIFE.
Why do you think art is important for the world, and why is it important for you as an individual artist?
Art is of utmost importance for the world: it is an instrument and an important form of human dialogue. Art is the cornerstone upon which culture is built, and throughout the history of art we see the most significant manifestations of being. Art has transformed, from political and social critique and voice of advocacy to a more universal, spiritual and cosmic expression. If we pay attention, we can see that art has gone back to focusing on its prehistoric roots, on abstract forms, on collective intuition more than reasoning.
What you hope to communicate to the viewer and how does this specifically affect the final result?
I hope the viewer can enter my dreamy world of ethereal, weightless landscapes and leave behind their everyday existence even for just a while; I want to convey positive vibes through the colors and shapes I use and the love and kindness embedded in every stroke but above all, to show a world a endless possibilities and give a glimpse of the divine spark, inspiring the viewer to create, to make something out of the most beautiful and sacred part of human existence. I would define my work as a manifestation of self, an extension of my spirit or sub consciousness, which is still beyond my grasp and lies at the deepest sphere of pure self. In particular, I try to minimize intellectual inclinations when I create to prevent the ego, the fictitious self from intervening, and hence my works are the most loyal reflections
of who I am (dreamer, fantasy-prone, sensitive, sexual and a bit dark and gloomy sometimes), and my work is who I am. My works feature images of imaginary landscapes, empty or inhabited by unknown beings – landscapes that externalize a constant inner struggle of being human, that visualizes conflict between good and evil, between light and darkness… hence, the best way to describe my work is – landscapes inhabited by my own self, where a step forward is eternal light and a step backwards is total darkness. In reality, my work refrains from saying too much: it was never my idea to talk about politics or social matters in my work. More than anything, my paintings are an invitation to enter the world of dreams, where the viewer can escape from the mundane for a few moments – like some kind of hallucinogen – being in there and being as oneself, and see things in a different way. This is why I have chosen an abstract approach which provides such resources. I am convinced that these images exist somewhere in the universe, and that I have seen them in the many previous lives I have lived as a particle of cosmic dust and am now only re-creating these worlds, never before seen by others, with luxurious details and narratives.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
First of all I would advise parents of artistically inclined children to motivate and encourage them, take them to art studios, buy them art supplies… and secondly, I’d tell teenagers that if they like art and believe that there is a path in art for them to participate in seminars, lectures, visit other artists and go to museums and galleries. But more than anything, I’d tell them to get formal training, and to refrain from the temptation of drugs and alcohol – there will be plenty of time to dabble in that later in life, just saying.
Self-taught artist Mauricio Paz Viola (b 1985; Carmelo, Uruguay) embarked on his artistic journey early in
life. Dabbling in plastic art since 7, he has participated in various art competitions in his native Uruguay
and abroad. At 14, Paz Viola began to participate in group shows and individual shows nationally and
internationally in galleries and museums in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, United States, Italy, China, among
others. His work have been featured in doctoral studies programs in art in universities in Chile, Mexico,
Argentina and Spain, and are frequently featured in magazines and art books, among which are Latin
American Plastic Art Annual Review, High Impact: the Art of Visual (New York) as well as books in
Venezuela, Spain, Argentina, UK, France, etc.
The most notable influences of Paz Viola are Roberto Matta, Max Ernst, as well as Uruguayan artist and
friend Javier Gil, who imbued a sense of motion into rigid objects as if everything had a life of its own – a
concept expressed in Paz Viola’s series “Nothing in the Void”.
Paz Viola Artist Statement
I would define my artwork as a manifestation of self, an extension of my spirit or sub-consciousness,
which is still beyond my grasp and lies at the deepest sphere of pure self. In particular, I try to minimize
intellectual inclinations when I create to prevent the ego, the fictitious self from intervening, and hence
my works are the most loyal reflections of who I am (dreamer, fantasy-prone, sensitive, and a bit dark
and gloomy sometimes). I paint, therefore I am.My works feature images of imaginary landscapes, empty or inhabited by unknown beings – landscapes
that externalize to constant inner struggle of being human, that visualizes conflict between good and
evil, between light and darkness … hence, the best way to describe my work is – landscapes inhabited by
the self, where a step forward is eternal light and a step backwards is total darkness, a realm that is both
personal and universal, and something I would like to share with the world