The Urban Jibaro
Creating Art Where it’s Needed
To say that we noticed Kiki on the Internet would be a big understatement, it was more like Kiki knocked us off our feet with his enthusiasm, energy and expressive paintings. The Internet is a vast space of activity, but somehow Kiki seems to rise above all the hustle and bustle and takes command of your attention. His work deserves the attention too! Read the article and look at his work and see if you agree.
I was born in Miami and moved to Northern New Jersey when I was a baby, then moved back to Miami when I was 8. My mom has always been involved with clothing and fashion. She used to take us into New York City with my brothers when I was real young. She’s always been a big supporter of me with creating. When I was 16 she took me to New York and we went to every single museum in the city. She took me to a Basquiat, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf show that was up during that summer. I was moved. When I was younger people said my work looked like Basquiat, I understand why. It was from that trip to and from that important show. I still have the catalog somewhere in my studio. My dad was always supportive too, but he was more hands off. He let me do what I wanted and really didn’t ask questions. He wasn’t opinionated and I think that was really important.
BFC: How did you discover your passion for the arts?
I started formal training in painting at the age of 11. When you’re a kid you know its what you want to do, because every kid loves to paint. I stuck with it. I remember falling in love with painting when I found out there wasn’t any rules. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I mean I had to learn color, the figure and basic things. But when you’re alone, there are no rules. I learned that real young. I think when I saw the real competitiveness from all the talented kids from high school that also sparked something.
BFC: What was a major lesson or experience you’ve taken from the New World School of the Arts High School that you still remember or influences you today?
New World is going to be mentioned often when great artists are talked about in the future. It’s still a young place. Very talented people come out of there. I learned a lot. There was just so much going on, and when you’re in your teen’s things just effect you so much more. Miami is where I’m from and it’s growing day by day. It’s like a newborn baby and your watching her grow. I could have gone to New York to do art, but I made a conscious decision to do it here. Great art is created where it’s needed.
BFC: Can you briefly describe how your work has evolved? What elements have changed and what has remained consistent? What is a neon expressionist?
My work has changed a lot, when I was younger it was aggressive, then I really started to exploit the ideals of Latin American Art from the standpoint of a Miami born Cuban. Now my work is breaking down the figure and I’m doing something so new. My colors aren’t as bright anymore. I’m taking painting somewhere else. That’s where I am. One consistent theme has been the aggressiveness, bold lines and compositions of rhythm.
Neon Expressionism is something I’m working on with a group of artists from Miami and from other parts of the world. It’s a reaction to what’s happening today in painting. A Neon Expressionist to me is pretty much post Neo Expressionism.
Actually OpenZine was never that political. When you get too political when you’re not in politics its like a bad movie. Artists, at least many don’t know politics. How could they? Too busy doing art!
Some of my new work deals with war, but it’s not super obvious. If its too obvious people know what you are doing and don’t question it. It becomes illustration and not really the type of art that leaves questions unanswered. You need the eye and mind to wonder. Also, I don’t sit there and say I’m going to make a piece about war, it comes out on its own and it takes a few nights of sleep to realize why I painted that, and why I painted this.
BFC: You seem to enjoy bringing art to people. You paint live in nightclubs and you’re active on the Internet. If you’re gaining support from collectors and galleries, why do you continue to self promote your work?
Self-promotion is always good. The live art thing was my calling card to get people to recognize the name. In the process I got paid a lot of money to do it. Collectors hang out at the weirdest places. It worked, now I’m using it for more serious things in art. It’s like a promotional campaign. I don’t do art on public walls or anything, what’s another way that people can see what’s happening with me? I’m coming up with new things that will take the art further. I am always finding new methods.
BFC: What would you like people to understand or feel about your art?
I’m just carrying on the tradition of painting. I hope people can appreciate and respect that.
BFC: What issues, styles or themes can we look forward to your art in the next few years?
I’m interested in Jewish mysticism, Freemasonry and geometry. The idea of magic in painting which was a common thing and pretty taboo among the modern painters. I do a lot of automatic drawings like André Masson. I didn’t even know what that was until a friend brought it to my attention. I like using the subconscious with a level of provoked thought. I’m interested in tapping into new forms of creating images in space. I’m not there yet but as a form of inspiration I went to Spain about a month ago. I’m searching and as the saying goes, when you seek you shall find.
BFC: For new artists, do you have any final words of encouragement or advice about creating art?
Never get jealous of anyone’s success. If they can make it, you can too. There’s enough innovation to be created to be praised. Keep your eyes on what it is you want to achieve. Keep it crystal clear in your mind. Work hard on your creations. Try to visit galleries and museums to see what’s happening. Surround yourself with good-natured people. Also, remember its good to make money with art. It’s a blessing. So when you see an opportunity, take it. Make sure you control the money. Don’t let the money control you. Also, nobody will respect you, if you don’t respect yourself or your art.
Be sure to see more of Kiki’s work in the Bullfighter’s Cafe Art Gallery .