- from comics to street art, to painting
My paintings depict figurative scenes that contain a large cast of individuals, environments and decorative ornamentation staged in arrangements to construct visual narratives reflecting on the role of myth, magical realism and the idea of the modern day fairy in the context of a contemporary secular society. Bright pastel and neon pigments playfully contrast with dark and muddy colours in sort of collaged compositions, juxtaposing the gestural and painterly against the graphic and pop.
My first big experience with aesthetic expression was probably after I moved to Costa Rica when I was 10 and I quickly became obsessed with drawing more and more, creating my own stories and characters to emulate the comics and superhero programs that I missed from Canada, where I was born… eventually this artistic interest developed into a Graffiti and Mural painting practice in San Jose, in which I would combine folkloric and street art imagery to mirror and comment on the local environment.
Moving to London to study Fine Art was a great challenge for my method, as I found myself in a very unfamiliar environment with a different but very deep and rich art culture. Here I would start my current practice adding an emphasis on more intricate compositions juxtaposing a number of visual languages creating a dialogue between them. I think there’s still somewhat of a storytelling aspect carried on from my background and influences like film and hip-hop, but now a higher focus in the atmospheres and moods serving the subjects I’m trying to put forward, such as the importance of conversation, the modern day hero, a science and philosophy of morality and our role as individuals and societies in a global community.
My first paintings in Costa Rica were closely linked to my graffiti practice and other prevailing themes were spirituality, the esoteric and shamanism among others, which have greatly changed or taken on a different angle since moving to London. Now my work is very much focused on exploring the role of magic and spirituality inside a context of a complex modern society empowered by a strong foundation in science, politics, freedom of speech and secular values.
My pieces feature portraiture, landscaping, abstract marks and patterning, referencing pop culture, art history, religious iconography and advertising, contextualising the messages and ideas I’m trying to communicate. There is a push and pull between a grounded interpretation of reality and the more seductive magical imagery in my artworks, whether in a tropical forest or a metropolitan architectural structure (or both simultaneously), we can see references to photography and elements inspired in reality like traditional portraiture, that in turn are surrounded by an otherworldly quality, like the glowing colours in the vibrant vegetation, or dense skies with a watery dripping textures.
The process of creation includes a research stage where I accumulate ideas and images from family albums, my iPhone and the internet, photoshop sketching, collage and other techniques such as digital print interventions, digital projections and stencils. I use different mediums such as acrylics, oil paints, rollers, markers and spray paint, in order to further convey a sense of dialogue between the different “components” interacting on the canvas.
- Storytelling art
Rene Gonzalez is an artist of Latino background, born in Canada in 1983. He began his art practice in Costa Rica, where he moved to when he was 10 and would later get involved in the local graffiti and mural painting art scene.
After developing his works onto canvas in a series of exhibitions the artist came into contact with art curator Filippo Tattoni-Marcozzi who acted as mentor, guiding the artist and encouraged him to pursue an academic education abroad.
Moving to London in 2012 to undertake a BA in painting at the City & Guilds of London Art School, Rene graduated from the course in 2015 and has subsequently been practicing as an artist in London.
Rene has exhibited his work at The Londonnewcastle Project (2014), The Great Western Studios (2014), Design Shanghai (2015), Salone del Mobile in Milan (2015), the Citizen M Hotel in New York (2015), the V&A (2015), the Affordable Art Fair Battersea (recent graduates exhibit, 2015), Art Helix Gallery in New York (2016), the OXO Tower Gallery (2017), the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead (2017)
Since coming to London he has worked with entities such as MADE.com, the NBA London and Clarks, creating unique artworks and designs, including his own limited edition shoes with Clarks.
Rene won second prize in the Art Gemini painting category (2014), first place in the Clyde & Co Blank Canvas Art Prize (2015), he’s been shortlisted for the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize (2018) and has collaborated with Auc.Art with their auction platform in 2018.
Articles and Prizes
I–D Vice interview:
Clarks & Halo Trust project:
Blank Canvas Annual Commissioning Art Prize:
Art Gemini Prize 2nd place, painting category: