lunedì 8 febbraio 2010

Christopher Umana

Gluttony 1

Gluttony 2

You were born in Long Beach, CA where you attended St.Anthony's High School. Did you already paint/draw at that time?

I was born in Lakewood, CA and grew up in Lakewood/Long Beach. I had already had a love for drawing and painting while at St. Anthony High School, but I had no direction until senior year when my art teacher told me I could make a career of it. Other than that I would sporadically sketch in my own sketchbooks and do drawings for friends of cartoon characters like the Simpsons.

Gluttony 1

How much did you grow as an artist at the Art Center, CA?

I felt that I grew by leaps and bounds at Art Center. After a long list of foundation classes taken at Long Beach City College in California, I was accepted into Art Center where I began to develop the style in which I work today. Having the teachers and that I did there (I was mentored by Alex Gross and Maria Rendon) opened up a world of visual expression that I never knew existed prior to that time. I was exposed to so many tools and techniques for creating art and learned that through art there are no boundaries for the way we can communicate or express ourselves.

Rebirth of Venus & 2 Years

Why did you move to Gardnerville, NV?

I had come here with my fiance and her daughter to visit her parents who had retired to Gardnerville. We loved the ambiance here. Great people, a more mellow environment to create in and the beautiful landscape with it's flora and fauna have found their way into much of my work. We thought it would be a great place to raise our daughters.


How do animals and human beings, aside from your supposed interest for them, represent your work so much that you focus on each your primary subject matter?

I do it as a tribute to and a continuation of what my predecessors have done. From the ancient Egyptians, to Aesop's fables, to modern day children's books, there have always been these hybrid, anthropomorphic figures. I've always had an affinity for them, insects as well. When you look closely, our behavior is very similar to theirs in the primitive sense, and I like exploring that. I also feel that when people see these figures, they can relate to them more than with a strictly human portrait even if it is simply because they like the type of animal that the human body is morphed with.


Tell me something about your illustrations for Coraline Corset Girls (2009). What was the original concept of these Corsets and why did you choose birds to express it?

My initial inspiration was the gorgeous French fashion from the late 1800's (cabaret and Victorian styles). In my research, I found a whole line called Dr. Warner's Coraline Corsets. I wanted to create characters which incorporated the two most beautiful creatures on the planet to me: Women and birds. They are both graceful and free in their lines and both have a softness to them that I thought would fit well. I thought of the Moulin Rouge or Le Chat Noir cabaret lounges and the performers on swings. I began making them the same size and saw that this was not realistic. Every woman is unique and I wanted these characters to express that. They have different sizes, shapes, facial and body language. Since I now live in northern Nevada, I used birds native to the area. I cut the corset styles out of different patterned paper and drew the line work on top with Japanese brush pens.

Coraline Corset Girl

“I really love preying mantids. My daughters and I collect them every spring. It pained me to paint one in this condition”. This is what you wrote about The Come Uppance 2: what’s the condition?

I had a rough time painting the Preying Mantis in the condition of being strangled by a Magnificent Riflebird. It was necessary for the piece, though, since I was communicating the cruel circle of life in nature as well as the business world. From collecting these insects in the past I've had a great respect for them. One year, a preying mantis landed on our screen door. We took care of it and since then they have come back to our house every year. My daughters and I will catch one or two, house and feed it for a while, then release it. I like them to see how the characters in their Daddy's paintings really behave and where I get my inspiration from. I also feel it gives them a sense of respect for how nature works. I tell them jokingly that they probably spread the word to their relatives that they can always go to our house for food and shelter.

Come Uppance 2 (detail)

What do you listen to while creating art?

I try to constantly change my playlist because I feel that it helps my creative process grow. There are some favorites that never leave my eardrums though. Some of these are: Tom Waits, Fantomas(or any Mike Patton venture), Venetian Snares, Phillip Glass, DJ Shadow, Aphex Twin, Beck, and lately a lot of Muse and Team Sleep. The list goes on and on...

Tutto Ha Cambiato I w/ Ichae Ackso

Tutto Ha Cambiato II w/ Ichae Ackso

You made a lot of series. Do they come to your mind already complete or is just a work in progress?

Depending on the subject matter, I do like doing series. If I find a color palette that I really like, I'll start multiple pieces at a time and then see what develops from that. I also like the thought that when I do series, if they are not bought by the same person, multiple people will have them meaning they will each have a piece of the story and through my work there is a connectivity among people who might not ever meet in person. We have a visual connection of sorts.

Schyster & Coquette

What’s been inspiring you these days?

What has been inspiring me a lot lately is life and death. They life of my daughters and how I see them grasping the world around them and how they react to certain things. It makes me question the human condition and how we are all connected. I keep thinking, "Was I like that as a kid?" I like seeing their carefree attitude and appreciation for all that is new. Death has also been at the forefront lately because of the loss of relatives and pets in the past two years. It has really affected my most recent work by making me look at how different cultures react to death through superstitions and traditions. I have incorporated many of these into my pieces, both celebratory and mournful.

Reconstruction of Classical Beauty (miniature)

Any upcoming shows?

Currently, I am showing in a two-man show for the month of February with Jophen Stein at Rothick Art Haus in Anaheim, CA (The Coraline Corset girls are being shown here). This month I am also showing in group shows at New Puppy Gallery in Silverlake, CA and The Hibbleton in Fullerton CA. Most of my shows lately have been located in and around Los Angeles. Next month I will be showing in group shows at La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Land of Odd Gallery and Meltdown Gallery, all in Los Angeles. I will be doing a two-man show with fellow Nevada artist Albert Montoya at Arcobaleno Trade in Santa Barbara with featured artist Yuki Miyazaki.

Red District - for the Red District Fashion Show, Reno, Nevada '09

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