Artists Art Issues Exhibitions About Us Search

featured artist
Williams Carmona

interview transcript

Date of Interview: Jan 15, 2001
Location: USA
Topic: An interview with the artist at Art Miami 2001
Interviewer: Cynthia MacMullin

LatinArt:  Williams, you were born in Cuba and studied art at the Instituto de Arte Superior with the political satirist and printmaker, Roberto Fabelo. You then left Cuba and traveled to New York City and Mexico City where you met Leonora Carrington. All these experiences have influenced your art. What elements of these experiences appear in your art, and what do you hope the viewer or public will see in your canvases?

Williams Carmona :  My art is a kind of metamorphosis. It is a daily metamorphosis dealing with the realization of my daily evolution - it is very Kafka-esque and poetic in one way. I want people to weave a story around what I am saying. What I have done up until this point is to confront people with their destiny in their present (life) and to make them feel that art exists. I make images that say something and that mean something.

LatinArt:  Do you see yourself and your art changing as the years go by?

Williams Carmona :  It is very important to me that people know I am not opposed to my art changing, that is, in four or five years (from now), I am not opposed to my art evolving into something abstract or expressionistic. It will always have poetry, theater, lyricism, and sarcasm. It will always have what I was and what I have been, what I am and what I will be. That is what this art will have.

The fact is that my art confronts many universal issues and topics; various occurrences that exist in modernism. I first studied the history of art in school, and now I am making my own history. I’m not interested in people categorizing (boxing) me into saying that I'm a surrealist artist or a hyper-realist, or what ever I am. I have always said that through art I have always seen the irony of what it means to be. I have baptized (my art) with an infamous name, the name is "tropical surrealism." I consider that through my art I try not to ridicule, but sometimes I make fun and use ridicule. My art is more like burlesque, Dante-esques, more satirical. Sometimes (it’s) stupid, and I use the personalities that have been petrified (preserved) on the canvases of great masters such as Velasquez, El Greco, Goya, and many, many other artists. I retake their spirit and bring these spirits who painted in the past into contemporary times, into today, into my work so they can say something (new), so they can be confronted with this reality. I want to realize, if it is possible, for them to say as much or more as they did in their own time. That’s why I can use this nun from Velasquez (as she has nothing to do with Velasquez). However, here she alludes to a different message, a different time. In her time, she was painted because she was an important nun, but I bring her here into today.

LatinArt:  You have always appropriated images and icons from the great masters. Has this ever been controversial?

Williams Carmona :  I do this because I have a universal patent as an artist to appropriate certain codes or images that have already been established in order to say what I want to say - to tell people to see what I see and what I think. I have every right in the world to do this, and I expect them to shoot me down eternally for it. I hope that they kill me with these things (opinions). I will always stay the same person and will never change. The people who see my art will either feel that I am turning them over to the Inquisition, or they will take (from the art) what they want from it. But in reality, this is what stays behind (in memory, in history) - the work.

As someone once said, "Farther down the path we will see each other again."

back to artists