“Dinner Gallery, formerly VICTORI + MO, is proud to present Lush, an exhibition of six new paintings by Anthony Padilla. With Lush, Padilla expands his Natures series pulling back his composition to include a larger depth of field. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and will be on view from November 11th through January 15th with an opening reception on Thursday, November 11th from 6-8pm.
Mimicking the many layers of the tropics, from the detritus floor to forest canopy, Padilla’s perspectives are carefully composed. The foreground is immediately saturated with overgrown vegetation, giving way only to hint at a pensive distance. His highly stylized depictions of flora and fauna straddle the line between beauty and chaos, examining the relationship between the untamed wilderness and systematic hierarchy of the jungle.
Padilla’s work examines our relationship with nature and the harmonious elements it has to offer. His lush, magnified landscapes are mysterious and enticing, imbuing a sense of curiosity about our surroundings. Referencing aspects of Georgia O’Keefe and Henri Rousseau, the scenes are meditations on the origins of life and interest in the unknown. Acting as an escape from urban life, Padilla’s works embrace a stillness and calm that can only be found within nature.
Anthony Padilla is an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His recent work explores the complexity and chaotic elements found in nature. His work has been featured in various publications including Artmaze Magazine and Booooooom. He has created numerous public art murals around New York City and Texas. He was the recipient of the 2021 City Artists Corps Grant”.
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
When I do a large jungle scene I like to draw out a couple ideas on a sketch pad then choose which one I like and use that as a reference to apply to the canvas. I always leave some space to add to it so that’s it’s a combination of intent and improvising.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Graphic, playful, surreal.
All of the works I’m showing at Dinner are themed around the jungle and the natural world. I wanted to make inviting nature scenes that have a bold colors and dense lush vegetation.
In the exhibition’s press release it is mentioned that “beauty meets chaos in nature, examining the relationship between the untamed wilderness and systematic hierarchy of the jungle”. Your painterly pattern seems to incite a complex and sometimes surreal journey into the wildness of the natural world. What kind of references or sources do you have as a young man living in a big city like New York that make you focus on natural landscapes?
I grew up in east Texas which isn’t exactly the jungle but there were many forests and the local woods to explore around. The overall experience is the same but the trees and wildlife are different. I recently went to Costa Rica which really gave me a glimpse into jungle life, it’s much more dense and alive than the places I visited living in Texas but the feeling I get from both locations is very similar. Being surrounded by untamed unchecked nature is a humbling experience and very valuable to have as a reference.
Taking into account the importance of nature in your work, do you feel your painting stories indirectly can be a contemporary critique against man’s irresponsible behavior regarding nature’s beauty and protection?
Yes all of my work is meant to highlight the uniquely beautiful world we have the privilege to call home. I wouldn’t call myself an environmental activist but I do hope that my work can bring attention to our good fortune to be on planet earth and we should do whatever it takes to preserve this world and the rich diversity of life it has to offer.
It looks evident that you are very keen on a visually playful and vivid imagery. Is it like a current painting series that you try to concentrate on this period or different kind of styles and motifs interest you as well?
Currently I’m using the elements of nature to make playful images in a very joking manner I don’t want my work to be too serious it’s more about making beautiful colorful images that sometimes have an underlying meaning.
Do specific artworks have been created by random experiments in your studio or do you always come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning?
I would say that a majority of the time I have an idea already in my head that I want to create but sometimes I’ll make a background first and just wait for something to come to mind.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
There are a few that I always seem to come back to, Georgia O’keeffe, Henri Rousseau, Wassily Kandinsky is another but lately I’ve really enjoyed the work from Tomas Sanchez Agnes Pelton.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
Right now I’m in east Williamsburg on the third floor of an old industrial building with high ceilings and two very large windows sitting at my desk underneath a very lush fiddle head tree.
What do your mum and dad think about your art?
They’ve always been very supportive of what I’m doing and enjoy my work, they want big pieces to hang at their house but because they live so far away it’s kind of hard to get it there. If money wasn’t a factor I would have a rotating gallery at their house.
Which are your plans for the near future?