Entering Randy Pijoan's studio in Amalia, the viewer encounters unexpected subjects in the paintings hung on the walls of this converted convenience store: cityscapes and nightscapes dominate, though …
Entering Randy Pijoan's studio in Amalia, the viewer encounters unexpected subjects in the paintings hung on the walls of this converted convenience store: cityscapes and nightscapes dominate, though Southwestern landscapes and unusual portraits also capture the eye.
There is something different about the paintings of Pijoan, different in a way which subtly rattles our conventional expectations.
The dramatic inspires Pijoan. "There's drama even in the shadows,' he said. "So where there's a lack of drama, it helps push the crescendo of drama, mezzo forte or mezzo piano." He quotes Arlo Guthrie, "'You can't have a light without a dark to put it in.'"
A Colorado native, Pijoan spent time with his grandfather in the Española and Albuquerque areas, and it was his grandfather who introduced him to painting. Pijoan comes from a family with an unusual artistic background. His great-grandfather, José Pijoan, of Barcelona, Spain, wrote several volumes on the history of art. The flag of Catalonia hangs in Pijoan's studio.
Pijoan's artistic career has blended the practical (he had to make a living with his talents) with a touch of the avant-garde, creating an artistic movement, the Phrasist Art Movement. "That's the bird's-eye view, a voyeuristic point of view of design. So, it's about really being honest about what we see, instead of the perfect pose. I started doing not portraits of people necessarily, but portraits of the events, of the moment." Around 2004, Pijoan and three other artists put together the show "Distill," in Denver, demonstrating the Phrasist perspective.
Pijoan credits his "really good art teachers" for his start, but he has seized every opportunity presented to him, both artistically and financially. When he was a young painter who found he could not afford to frame his work, he took a job in a framing shop, using thrown away material to frame his paintings.
His artistic interests were not limited, however, to painting. Dramatic lighting and film attracted Pijoan. He worked on various projects in cinema from 1993 until 2003, including the initial episodes of "South Park."
Yet, it was while living in Chicago that he became fascinated with nightscapes. Pijoan considers his greatest achievement has been bringing nightscapes into the artistic mainstream. Recognition of this work with articles in Southwest Art Magazine, Watercolor Magazine and Artists Magazine propelled Pijoan's career.
Concerned about the health of his mother, Pijoan returned to Colorado, planning to spend six months of the year in the city, Chicago, and six months in Jaroso, Colorado.
In 2003, however, a genetic disorder struck Pijoan with unexpected force. "It was pretty much curtains for me," he said. After returning from his "death experience," Pijoan was inspired to take a new direction, eventually founding a nonprofit, Ventero Open Press, designed to help young people in the San Luis Valley express themselves artistically. Unfortunately, more health issues for Pijoan forced the closure of the nonprofit.
"I've slowed way down," Pijoan said, following his stroke. "I used to have four or five paintings going at once." Now it is one at a time, unless his new collaboration with Sam Del Russi is figured in. Pijoan handed some of his unfinished paintings to Del Russi to complete. Del Russi, he said, "does these very detailed, metaphysical paintings." Pijoan, who describes himself as a "quasi contemporary realist," differs greatly in his approach from Del Russi. "But he loves my work as I, his, especially the nightscapes. He'll put a galaxy in behind it." Pijoan hopes a gallery space can be found for their collaborative paintings. While this collaboration represents Pijoan's unusual approach to art, looking at his night- or cityscapes reveal his spirit.
Consider, for example, the nocturnal scene at the usually busy El Parasol establishment in Española. The single car in the parking lot on a summer evening shows a time and a scene which doubtless exists, but which is rarely noticed. The woman's outstretched arm suggests the hurry she feels. With Pijoan's work, the viewer feels privy to events to which he or she is not connected.
It is Pijoan's surprising focus on the mundane, the marks in the snow of a cursory shoveling effort on the sidewalk in his "Bent Street Nocturne," which startle the viewer and command a second look. Does Bent Street really look so lonely with only one old truck on it at night?
In Pijoan's Phrasist, bird's-eye view paintings, a larger perspective is offered, a single happening in a crowded city street, a forgotten view meticulously captured. The paintings of Randy Pijoan show relentlessly what is actually seen, not the posed, still-life versions so often depicted.
His paintings may be viewed at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe or by contacting the artist at (719) 937-1788, firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting randypijoan.com.
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