Francisco Palomares is an emerging artist. His artwork is inspired by urban landscapes of cities and the complex relations within. He was born and raised in Boyle Heights. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach. He went on to study art in Florence, Italy and Guangzhou, China. Palomares concentration in art, were on the fundamentals of drawing and painting.
In an interview with artist Palomares he shares the impact that China made on him. On this trip the question of identity buoyance straight to the epidermis surface of his skin. On several occasions he was asked, why China. His reply was “I did not choose China. It chose me. At CSULB instructor Yu Ji, a Chinese artist who lived and studied art during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, was offering an opportunity of a lifetime to study in two different art colleges in China. I chose Guangzhou, China. Which is in the south of China, two hours away from Hong Kong on train.”
Palomares describes the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts as a hub for school activities. It is in a small island with 11 other colleges. Upon arriving in China, it was hot and humid to the point where he thought he was “breathing fire.” As he walked out of the air-conditioned airport he describes being “bombarded by taxi drivers looking to take me somewhere. I can only think this is my life for the next 5 months.” This experience posed a cultural and language challenge. Being away from his L.A Latino community was a moment of examination. The experience in China “whether it was what I wanted or not,” brought an existential inner dialogue about who he is and what is his purpose.
In the Academy of Fine Arts Palomares was exposed to his fellow artist’s renditions of European Renaissance Masters, he was eager to pursue the quality and skills they had achieved.
In a course of experimental mark making, Palomares explored various techniques and processes. He would soon discover that his instructor Yu Ji, a master at rendering figurative drawing was common practice in China, yet in the United States it was an outdated practice in colleges.
Back in East LA
Little did Palomares realize not only did he bring East L.A to China, but he brought China to East L.A. Isolated as the only Mexican American/ Latino in the art college his identity was cemented by restoring and retracing his Mexican/Latino roots. He pursued the evaluation of an aesthetics he had been taught. This would lead him to do a series of paintings that describes his rite of passage titled Caballitos.
A bright colorful Mexican traditional piñata on the foreground of a 17th century European landscape titled ‘Caballito’ (oil on canvas, 54” x 62”) becomes his point of departure. Palomares comes to terms between the European school of training and the break from this classical style of painting. The piñata series becomes his exclamation mark. The juxta position of a piñata among a European landscape shatters to pieces Palomares’s existential struggle.
The duel in this painting is transferred to the viewer, to question specific style, thought and methodology taught over other means of expressions. By referencing an ancient Mesoamerican celebration, the piñata, Palomares breaks the confinement of single narratives contained within the four corners of a canvas. The piñata series became his alter ego layered with his cultural memory.
In his recent works described by Palomares as new inspirations a still life bouquet of flowers in a European style is converted outside any novelty way of conceiving something distinctively new. Homage to My Mothers (oil on canvas 36”x48”) pays a visual homage to the many mothers of all ages as domestic workers, housekeepers, hence the working class is a painting that does not dilute a class that navigates many crossroads as women. It is an extraordinary painting where flowers and laboring tools coincide in unison, dignity. In Clorox (oil on canvas 24”x24”) his second rendition of a bouquet of flowers are no longer held in a vase but a clear plastic container. The background in this painting is set on a marble counter and wall hinting a fluent patron. This piece is a visual anecdote, close to home.
At the end of his journey he realized, China “allowed me to see my ego. It allowed me to go to the bare minimum. I had all I needed no more no less. I learned I could be a Latino artist no matter where in the world I was. Regardless where I am, I do not stop being Latino, brown, different, an artist which comes through my defiance with a bright warm palette in my artwork.”
Palomares is part of a group show, Unending Chapters, viewing at the Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) from April 25, 2020 * August 1, 2020 with an opening reception on April 25th