Gallego displays his abstract ‘Memento’

Juan Gallego
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Artist Juan Gallego visited Oswego State for the first in a series of lectures sponsored by the art department on Monday.

Gallego, a professor at CES Felipe II University in Madrid, has been known for his abstract-yet-realistic paintings. The first set of paintings he discussed was a series of merry-go-round cars, each of which were almost photo-realistic due in part to Gallego’s attention to detail when painting reflective light. As with most of his pieces, Gallego used actual photographs as an outline. Gallego mentioned that he was attempting to model classic billboards and marquees from the mid-20th century at the time of these paintings.

Gallego then displayed a series of paintings known collectively as Memento Mori, which is Latin for “remember you are mortal.” These works were more abstract, showing various flowers just as they were beginning to decay. Gallego photographed flowers at a number of different angles to find an image that was just clear enough to be identified as a flower, yet abstract enough to be open to interpretation.

“I didn’t want to paint flowers for the sake of painting flowers,” Gallego said.

Gallego’s final painting was of his own face, composed of multiple expressions taken with a number of cameras. These were then integrated into a painting of one composite face. While it is currently not a part of a series, Gallego said that it could be the inspiration for a brand new set.

“It’s kind of creepy how much this resembles me,” Gallego said.

When asked about his influences, Gallego cited American iconography, including from the 1950s. He also mentioned his passion for American comic books such as “X-Men.”

“I read much more American comic books than European comic books,” Gallego said. “In my school days, saying you read comic books was the greatest sin you could commit.”