Jose Antonio Fuentes
Drawn to art since childhood, Jose Antonio Fuentes
began his artistic career at a young age in the 1960s. At nine years old
the Spanish born artist sold drawings to his neighbors and exchanged
paintings for gifts with his classmates. An academically gifted student,
he ranked higher than his peers and joined older classmates to enter the
baccalaureate program at the age of ten. There he completed additional
advanced arts courses.
In 1970 Fuentes featured in his first group
exhibitions in local and provincial cultural centers. Unfortunately, his
academic and artistic career was truncated when his father abruptly left
his family, leaving the family in financial difficulty. At the age of
fourteen, Fuentes was forced to leave school to begin working and
support his family.
After years of both working and saving
money, in 1978 Fuentes garnered enough savings to enroll in school at La
Marina in Spain, where he was first in his class. Whenever circumstances
allowed he continued to draw and paint, participate in art contests, and
visit all nearby museums and artists' workshops. Fuentes strongly
believes that observing other cultures, landscapes, and people is vital
to a painter’s understanding of how to portray the world.
In the early 1980s Fuentes married and began
a family. The domestic and financial obligations to his young family
prevented the free time necessary to continue painting. Fuentes notes
that the postponement of his artistic career to raise his family is
never a source of regret as there is nothing more fulfilling than to see
his children grow.
As his children grew older in age and
required less of Fuentes’s time in the 1990s, he was able to travel more
extensively and resumed his cultural tours. He visited cities in Spain
such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, and Bilbao, and spend countless
hours in acclaimed museums and cultural centers including El Prado,
Thyssen, Conde Duque, the Sorolla Museum, the Guggenheim Museum in
Bilbao, the Picasso museum, the Joan Miro Foundation, and the Tapies
Foundation in Barcelona. He also extensively attended exhibition
openings, artist talks, conferences and workshops where he learns from
masters of realism including Toral, Naranjo, Antonio Lopez, Munoz Vera,
Macarron, Leon Olmo, Claudio Bravo, Lapayese, Perez Villalta, Revello de
Toro, Eduardo Sanz, Tosar Granados, and Pere Bastos. At this time, he
also took courses in psychology which strengthened his artistic
This direct observation comprises the basis
of Fuentes’ education. He notes that while he would have preferred to
attend official studies, many of his favorite artists are also
self-taught including Tjalf Sparnaay, Michael Kutshe, Charles Bell,
Francis Bacon, Henri Rousseau, Yves Tanguy, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Tapies,
Clave, Viola, and Dino Valls.
Fuentes combines a multitude of influences
and techniques. He cites Surrealism as a foundational source of
inspiration, particularly the works of Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, and
Salvador Dali. He also credits illustration and comics, abstraction, and
expressionism as influential to him, particularly work by artists Pablo
Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse. American hyperrealist painter
Richard Estes imparts the most discernable impact on Fuentes, as they
share a procedure of assembling different photos and perspectives and
then complete the arranged image with realist precision.
Fuentes now paints full time and continues
his unending quest to learn and observe from the world around him.