Julio Larraz: Swimming Upstream

Julio Larraz began his career as political cartoonist whose work was published in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. He has become one of the world’s most important contemporary Latin American painters, with his work in major museums and galleries around the world. Just this year, his work has been included in shows in both Milan and Houston.

Julio Larraz in his Miami studio, 2016,
Gaston De Cardenas

Swimming Upstream

Larraz works from his Miami studio, but has lived in Washington, New York and Florence. As a child in Cuba, before his family immigrated to Miami, Larraz says that he was influenced by the work of sixteenth century Dutch master, Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, who pioneered the genre of everyday living in his paintings.

Larraz, too, was a rebel, who likes to recount the story of his mother telling him that he was from the “salmon club” because he would always go against the current. In New York, in the mid 1960s, when conceptual artists were making their marks, Larraz met Burt Silverman, with whom he began to study. He formed a group with Silverman and other New York artists who hired a live model every Wednesday night and critiqued each others work.

Larraz’s early work exemplifies his extraordinary talent and craftsmanship.

Julio Larraz
Finisterre, 1976

Capturing Dreams

Larraz’s paintings are magical, mystical and have a dreamlike quality that makes the viewer want to revisit the work, seeing more symbolism and meaning with each observation.

Julio Larraz
La gran Lulu dans la chambre Jules Verne, 2010

Often working from early morning to late at night, Larraz says that his paintings appear in his mind as images, that he must capture before they dissolve just as dreams do.

“I revisited a drawing that I started in 1964, which fascinated me.” he said. “I did about ten to twenty variations, which I sold because none fit. I still remember drawing it and thinking ‘THIS!’ when I knew it was right. It’s called Nimrod; a biblical name of a king supplanting himself as a God. It took me 45 years to get the painting I wanted. Sometimes it takes a long time to produce a piece, but it is always enjoyable.”

Julio Larraz
Nimrod, la Fuga, 2010

The Work of Julio Larraz for sale at the Surovek Gallery

“As an artist, I feel happy knowing that I am not going to change the art world.” Larraz said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “The most important thing is to realize that if what you leave is just a little mark on the wall of life, it is enough. Just a little note, a little drop of gravity. Most importantly, hope that someone who deserved it can gain or learn something from what you produced.”

Julio Larraz
The Innisfail on the Santa Ana, 2016
Oil on Canvas
60 x 72 inches
For sale at Surovek

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