Artist Gerardo Labarca presents compelling mixed media portraits that convey inner thoughts and emotions. Visit his website to see more of his work.
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved painting people.
Each moment of the day was a moment to paint. Whether I was in math class or biology, my head was always in creativity mode. Without knowing it, my path was being drawn, leading towards what would one day become my professional career in the arts. However, this path was unconventional due to my life journey, which included immigrating from Venezuela to Canada.
I was only twenty-one years old in 1999 when I had to begin solely supporting myself. I started working as a dishwasher in a restaurant in the beautiful city of Montreal.
While immersing myself in this strange new culture, I slowly climbed the industry ladder. Thanks to a passionate and hardworking temperament, eventually I was running my own gourmet restaurants. In this field I achieved the highest recognition possible, both locally and nationally. It’s hard to sum up the experience and events that lead to me returning to my original passion.
As time passed, I saw my dream of painting drift further and further away. Since I was already so absorbed in the fine dining industry, I had to make a difficult choice—do I go all in on a career in painting, knowing full well there is a stark difference between painting as a hobby and painting professionally?
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In my last restaurant, I had displayed one of my own paintings—a large portrait of a woman draped in red cloth. This painting drew the attention of my patrons. Some even asked if it was for sale. At that moment, I knew this endeavor was worth pursuing.
One evening, I decided to bring the painting home. I rolled a fresh layer of immaculate white paint over it. On top of this, I painted the face of Charlie Chaplin and hung it in my living room. Every evening I looked at it, wondering what I could add to it to make it really special.
Then one day the magic happened. I began adding more colours, as well as more and more details—clippings, stencils, textures, metallic paint, gold leaf and more. My creative process was at its peak. Months later, I shared my work on social media and received a lot of “likes” and positive comments. I even had offers to purchase the work. This filled me with joy and happiness.
Since then, I have not stopped painting. I left the restaurant industry to devote myself fully to my art. I have so far had the pleasure of participating in three exhibitions, each more rewarding than the last. Now I can say that I am living one hundred percent off my passion to paint.
I moved to the countryside with my love and my pets and have installed my studio in the garage of my house. There I paint my portraits, using the subjects’ eyes to transmit emotions and convey my inner thoughts and feelings through their piercing gazes.
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