Fernando Llosa: The Reality of an Undivided Life
by Matthew King
You may instantly recognize the rather unique images in this post as we’ve featured the work of artist —Fernando Llosa before on this site. I find this painting style rather interesting and the images are very striking or metallic! All of his work points, in one way or another, to the reality of an undivided life. These paintings on glass show particularly well the human form emerging from, existing within and falling back into the unitary ground of being.
If you are attracted to these paintings as much as I am, then by all means please visit his website [after you read this article] as there are lots of these paintings within the five galleries of the section called Sumi Ink Paintings on Glass.
Notes on the Artwork
MATTHEW: Tell us about how you made these incredible paintings please.
FERNANDO: “Let me first give you some idea of the process that leads to these prints. First, a rough sketch of the human form or a landscape is made by painting with water on 6 x 8” or 8 x 10” glass plate. Then, this hardly visible and very basic form is tinted with highly and differentially diluted acrylic pigment or sumi ink. Subsequently, a heat gun (an industrial strength hair dryer) is used to raise the temperature of this mixture and to gently push it around. Brushes and other tools are also utilized throughout the process. This way of painting creates a very thin emulsion of paint that is, to a great extent, the actual record of tinted fluids rolling across the flat, nonabsorbent surface of the glass.”
Ecce Homo IX
“The plates that survive inspection are cleaned, protected with an acrylic fixative (the painted surface is extremely fragile) and then either used as large format negatives to create silver gelatin photographic (black and white) enlargements, (or 1 to 1 contact prints made by exposing photographic paper placed directly under the glass plate serving as negative); or, most commonly, they are scanned at a very high-resolution, further processed in the computer and then printed, either as color photographs or as inkjet prints (the ink emulsion in is read as rich and varied chocolaty, sepia or golden tones in the scanning process).”
MK: What about the final result then?
FERNANDO: “The very basic nature of the elements and processes from which these simultaneously complex and primitive images emerge, helps convey the fundamental physical and psychological similarity of all human beings. There is no form in the inherent transparency of water—no-thing—and there is no form in ink—total darkness, no-thing as well. The form of living beings emerge as wind and heat thoughtlessly animate the flowing dance of nothing with nothing.”
“At a more intimate level, this awareness of our common source in the most basic processes of nature that the paintings convey, challenges the irrational proclivity to exaggerate our presumed existential uniqueness and to flaunt our social status and our intellectual or even “spiritual” pedigree. And to radically question the generally overwrought value we each attribute to our particular experience, knowledge, belief and idealized self projection, is to open oneself to the shattering but vivifying realization that the deepest ground of human existence lies not in self-centered consciousness, but in the unthinkable mystery of life as a whole.”
“Beyond the obvious limitations of our perceptual and cognitive capacity, and beneath the superficial differences of our separate, claustrophobic, and inherently antagonistic psychological and tribal identities, there is indeed an undivided and, therefore unthinkable, ground in which mental suffering as a result of conflicted and conflictive separation does not exist.”
Fernando Llosa was born in Arequipa, Peru. Right after high school and at the tender age of 16, he was shipped off to pursue university studies in the United States with a full scholarship granted by Loyola University in Chicago. Having earned a BA in Sociology with minors in Philosophy and Theology, he did post-graduate work in Communications at the University of Louvain, this time sponsored by the Belgian government.
In 1969 he returned to South America married to an American he had met in Louvain. During the next 20 years he helped her raise three kids, while working in the design and implementation of projects for the social and economic development of very poor urban and rural communities. Despite his family obligations and an extremely heavy workload, during this time he also managed to formally exhibit photography, drawing or painting at least once every year.
Towards the end of this period Fernando and his family lived in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he worked for an international organization implementing projects in fifteen different Latin American countries. The geopolitics affecting Latin America had changed drastically during the decade of the 80′s, and a violent wave of right-wing repression was gradually making impossible the type of human rights and social and economic development work he was doing. Field workers in whose training he had participated and whose salaries he had helped fund, were being brutally persecuted and sometimes tortured and killed. Simultaneously, and in no small measure due to the unrelenting pressures of his job and the constant travel it required, his marriage and health started to fall apart.
Finally, in 1990, he quit his job and migrated to the U.S. and, after two years of personal reconstruction in New York City and the Catskills, he took permanent residence in the beautiful Fingers Lake region of New York state. He has spent the last 20 years in this area writing and making and exhibiting art, most of them in company of Kim Schrag (with whom he shares a lot more than an interest in art).
The Real Scoop
I am you with a different name and a superficially different story, and I begin to relate with you by rejecting the distance that an overly tight identification with subjective biographical recollections would impose on our potential friendship.
In other words, I question the cultural and psychological separation that an exaggerated sense of personal identity would create between us. Instead of emphasizing the superficialities that would make each one of us feel psychologically and culturally unique, and therefore, separate, I would like to draw our attention to the immensely more important similarities that makes us, not just alike, but ultimately one and the same.
“A flowing dance of nothing… with nothing“
Our bodies seem quite similar, and we both share with everyone else the same existential dependency on the Earth’s biosphere and its cosmic matrix. We can both expect to live exactly the same biological life cycle including an equally unavoidable death. We share language, the general and the specifics of human culture and, most of all, we share the entire experience of the species recorded deep in our brains and going all the way back to our animal origins . And yet, our particular biographical and tribal conditioning is so strong that it manages to obscure all that we hold in common while giving enormous importance to what creates distance between us.
If you read my little personal story above, chances are that you now have a clear sense of what makes us different. And this sense of difference has probably determined as well a mechanical reaction of like or dislike; interest or lack of interest. But if you and I could dialogue face to face, I am sure that given enough time and determination we would find out that we are both quite familiar with pleasure and joy; as familiar as we are with the ambitions, fears and hatreds that lie on the other side. We would find out that we both have inflicted and suffered hurt in surprisingly equal measure, and that we share the same fear of accident, loss, failure, the ravages of old age, and an all too democratic death. Then, having established our fundamental similarity and, therefore, having transcended both our particular identities and, with that, our alienation from one another we would have no other choice than, together, turn our eyes and open our hearts to the unthinkable and lively mystery that bears all beings and all things without distinction and with unfathomable love.