Mauricio Paz Viola is a self- taught artist born in Uruguay who now resides in Pacific Grove, CA. With individual and group shows around the world, Paz Viola’s work has found it’s way into magazines, art books and doctoral studies programs. Since 2008, his work has focused on abstract expressionism. Life continues to inspire Paz Viola to create and to capture alternative dimensions via his artistic expression.
Your work has a mystical quality to it. Is there a spiritual or religious practice you are influenced by?
Perhaps. I have always been interested in mystical things. I haven’t practiced any religion for a few years, but I have been involved with many. My entire family are Protestants: my father was a pastor of an apostolic church, and I had a very Christian upbringing. However, I developed a personal interest in religion because I experienced many supernatural or mystic things, such as seeing beings from other dimensions or worlds, beings like elves, fairies, beings of different shapes, spheres, UFOS.
On quite a few occasions I experienced space warps, like a time-space contortion. This happens when I spend too much time focusing on one work of art. The overexertion of my mind makes me see things. I capture many of these experiences in my work, especially in my latest series “Cosmic Filigrees”, or “Cosmic Cubism”. You will be able to see that the series features repetitions of lines, spheres, dots, and cubes alluding to other worlds, planets and stars.
I have been seeking my spiritual path since my teenage years. I was involved in the Gnostic movement, Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way, Hare Krishna, and most recently, Naqshbandi Sufism.
In a way, I think all these experiences have shaped my life. I have always been fascinated by religions, theology, anthropology, philosophy and the arts.
The only objective I have in my art is to interpret imaginary worlds that I believe exist somewhere, or universes and worlds in other dimensions and times. I try to capture and portray these places with their atmosphere, landscape, beings, colors, etc.
There is a fractal quality to your work. What’s your background in that?
There is a clear fractal element in my work. I think plastic artists can interpret in subconscious, yet clearer way that resorting to fractal or aesthetic art. Fractalism and aestheticism exist in nature and the universe, and you can see some reference to that in almost all of my pieces, especially in my abstract series “Nothing in the Void”. The Fibonacci sequence is alluded to in the series “Sublime Trees.”
There are many movements that repeat throughout my works. The repetition itself is unconscious – I don’t decide on doing it. A good example of this would be Pollock: despite his movements being random, his subconsciousness leads him to create magnificent fractal paintings.
One of things you can do to better understand the fractal element in my work is to take a fragment of any of my pieces and place it inside another painting of mine. You will see that the fragment can multiply and form the same work. The movement and shapes are almost always identical; what is different are the sizes and the colors. Another way to do this is to look at mine paintings from any direction – the result is always harmonious, just like examples of fractal art in nature.
Do you meditate?
Not at all, but it’s on my to-do list.
How does your geography and having lived in South America affect your art?
Everything plays a role: where you were born, your hometown, your family, being the fourth child… everything in the artist’s life makes its way into the artworks. I was born in Uruguay, on the shore of La Plata River, and many things influenced my artistic production; music, candombe, tango, the local art, my friends, women, poetry, freedom, dreams, frustrations, oblivion, death, the carnival. We have the longest carnival in the world, which is a love child of European and African influences, diversity, colors, lights. Everything plays a role.
I was born in February, premature, barely breathing, during the longest carnival season in the world. I believe it had a huge impact on my life. I have been living in Chile since I was 22. I stayed there for another 8 years and saw my work change again. I worked on nearly all of my series there. I took liberties, my style matured, other limitations surfaced. The environment also had an impact on my work. I created more than eight series of artworks while living in Chile, where my style grew more professional.
I arrived in Pacific Grove, California not long ago to accompany my wife and we will be living here for a few years. I am sure that my style will change again thanks to geography, culture and my surroundings.
What is your process when creating?
I generally let chance do its thing. I don’t make sketches. One series usually lasts no more than 2 to 3 weeks and usually consists of no more than 30 paintings. I switch between series when I work.
When I paint, I would get up in the morning, put on some classical or Baroque music, which are my favorite. I have to have music as I can´t stand the silence. Then I just create. In South America I sipped mate, but I have switched to coffee now that I am in the United States. My most productive time is between 2 and 5pm, but I usually start around 10am and finish around 6pm. Then I wrap up, reflect on the works created, and spend quality time with my beautiful wife, my muse…
Mauricio Paz Viola
By Allison Scuderi & Ronit Pinto