A couple of years ago, my wife and I were on vacation with my family in a little town north of Puerto Vallarta called Bucerias. After a few days of walking the streets and enjoying beer, chips and guacamole for just about every meal, we decided to take a day trip into Puerto Vallarta. Top of my list was the art district, and Jamie and I stumbled across some nice work at Galleria Uno. One artist in particular caught our eye, and after some ambivalence about making a purchase, we decided to sleep on it. I thought about his paintings quite a bit over the next couple of days, and before we left Mexico we ended up back in the gallery buying the most expensive piece we had bought to date. We have never regretted the purchase and the piece hangs above our kitchen table where we can enjoy it everyday.
Sezio: So how old are you and where exactly do you live?
Alberto: I live surrounded by dogs, cats, chickens and fruit trees, it is somehow like a very big farm in the middle of Zapopan right besides Guadalajara. The place where I do my art work used to house poultry; I call it “speak easy”.
And I am 28.
conejos e islas flotantes
SZ: When did you start making art?
AFG: My dad is a painter of the modern movement in Mexico; ever since I was a little boy I would help him with his paintings, and tried to do my own. I have always been surrounded by arts.
In elementary school the teachers took advantage of my drawing abilities, they would have me all the time making drawings on the chalkboard, and illustrating the school news paper with drawings of the independence of Mexico. You have no idea of how many “Benito’s Juarez” I sketched.
landscape to the north
SZ: Can you give us a sense of what it's like being an artist in Mexico? Is there a pretty good art scene?
AFG: There’s the old school academy, which teaches the students how to paint, the exact proportions, like if there was a secret formula, and you know they teach techniques and things like that.
I’m a self-taught person. I identify myself more with the rebels that are more into experimenting. At the end you find many artists that came from the academy with an immaculate technique to paint, but without that personal mark, or identity...
Truth be told, some foreigners come to Mexico in the search of cliché handcrafts or artworks, such as a depiction of natives on paintings or jars. Some of them are blown away when they find out that Mexican artists are far from painting donkeys and ladies washing clothes in the river.
Right now I consider there is a pretty cool new wave of illustrators in Mexico and good arts in general.
that's how the empire was like
SZ: Who are some of the artists that you are into and/or that have inspired your work?
AFG: I really enjoy of the work of Antonio Tapies his work has marked me. I like also Remedios Baro a Mexican artist, and I feel very inspired by the new tendencies of illustration such as Camila Rose Garcia and David Shrigley. There’re many others that I can’t think of right now.
muro de los personajes
SZ: What are some of the themes that seem to run through your work? What's it all about?
AFG: I like to make drawings of very strident characters, words randomly written and unfinished figures. Somehow it seems like if my work was incomplete, everything that I do is very spontaneous. But sometimes I think of an idea of a thing that I would like to see on a painting, and I go and do it... I think obscure sense of humor would perfectly describe it.
SZ: Why do you make art?
AFG: Just to get rid of the things that are flowing on my head, I like to see it materialized. Things that give me strange feelings and sensations. Images that would cause me some kind of excitement if they were made by someone else.
SZ: Can you give us an idea of your artistic process? How do you start a piece, how does it develop, and how do you know when it's done?
AFG: It all starts when I come up with an idea, it usually happens at night. And all of a sudden I can see how the frame will look, and I know how it is going to end, the colors, the lights… everything... But I never know how to start it so I experiment. I just take the brush, and start searching as if I were an archeologist about to discover something that looks exactly how I dreamt it.
Forward and Interview by Eric Taggart. Translated by Alberto's girl friend. Visit Alberto's Flickr page here...