Another Pilot Down: The Artwork of George Gonzalez

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Influences: Nine Inch Nails

If the work of Joel-Peter Witkin molded the often disturbing and twisted characters of my artwork and Frida Kahlo influenced me in expressing myself on a very personal level then it is the the music of Nine Inch Nails signifies the intensity, rage, and often chaotic atmosphere that I try to capture style of drawings.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this hard-rock band, the band Nine Inch Nails is mostly made up of singer-songwriter, Trent Reznor. He is the main writer and man behind most of the music. He plays all kinds of different instruments and in his albums it is mostly him by himself. However, from time to time he does occasionally have different artists and musicians come in to collaborate or play certain instruments in his records. But for the most part it is Reznor whom is the mastermind behind all the music in Nine Inch Nails.

Like Joel-Peter Witkin (and even Frida Khalo), Nine Inch Nails isn't for everyone. The music can often be described as being very loud and abrasive (like chain saws and television static.) Yet, all the same it is also as whimsical as birds singing in the early morning or just as melodic as a children's choir. More often then not, all this might even take place within the same four minutes of a song.

As much as his music screams that he wants to burn the whole world down, it also whispers “love me.” It's in that balance that I try to create in my own work. It's how I perceive my drawings or when I set out to work on a design. Underneath all the anger, rage, and distorted figures of my self-portraits, my personal drawings also show you the melody and sound of a beating heart. If there is underlining message in my work, then I want it to show you a boy hardened by being an outcast, but display the maturity of man who knows how to overcome and move on. That's the melody of my art and how the music of Nine Inch Nails plays into it all.

**Originally published in Spanish in the August 10th, 2013 issue of Antesala

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Influences: Joel-Peter Witkin

If Frida Kahol influences the very personal aspect that my artwork takes on, then it's the photography of Albuquerque, New Mexico's Joel-Peter Witkin who molds the dark, scary, and often disturbing figures that usually shows up in my works. I've often joked that my drawings and paintings have a tendency to “scare little kids,” and I'm certain that those whom have seen my art can more than the likely say the same thing. Well, in many ways it was the influence of Witkin's artwork who guided me in that direction.

For those who aren't familiar Witkin's photography, they often deal with themes of death, corpses, and various “outsiders.” His models are primary dwarfs, amputees, and individuals whom are physically deformed. Witkin often places them in a cryptic setting, while various skulls, religious crosses, weird masks, limbs, and other creepy things fill the background.

As I've mentioned a few times here in my column, being born with Marfan Syndrome often made me feel like an outcast and an outsider. The physical characteristics of people with Marfan's are usually skinny, tall, with long arms and thin fingers. Coupled with being in and out of hospitals, the condition always made me feel as if I didn't belong. So when I first saw Witkin's photography, it made me think of all these people with different types of disabilities and it captured a sense of beauty for me. Even though his work can be viewed as extremely disturbing there is a sense of calmness and an classic elegance to it. In fact, much of Joel-Peter Witkin's pieces are reminiscent of classical paintings and there is often a lot of religious imagery that doesn't insult but celebrates it. It just happens to be in his own twisted way.

Despite that he photographs people with physical disabilities, his work never exploits them. In fact, many if not all of his models have said he is one of the most respectful people ever. His work doesn't try demonize or shame them, instead it honors what society deems weird and odd. It embraces “the strange” and just as I do.

**Originally published in Spanish in the August 3rd, 2013 issue of Antesala

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Influences: Frida Kahlo

For those whom have seen my artwork in person or visited my website, you'd more than likely see a lot of different artists and influences buried deep within my drawings and paintings. I like to draw from all sorts of diverse things and in the end I try to really paint a piece of work that really says something about me and who I am.

With that being said, I think it is safe to say that my biggest influence are the works of Frida Kahlo. Even before I got to know what kind of artist she was, the similarities in what I was doing mimicked that of hers as well. For instance, Frida suffered lifelong health issues and while they were the result of a car accident that happened when she was a teenager, this was something that I knew too much about. Since I was born with Marfan Syndrome, much of my early years were spent alone, isolated, and I felt like an outcast from the rest of the students. Spending weeks in hospitals didn't help this isolation either. This was a feeling that Frida felt too and she expressed that depression in her paintings.

She's often quoted in saying, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” It's in that statement where I truly feel a deep and sorrowful connection with her. Like the majority of my drawings, my pieces are deep and personal reflections of myself. Frida did exactly that. Everything she painted was drawn from personal experiences, her numerous operations, and her unfortunate miscarriages. While her accident left her in a great deal of pain, she used her works to capture everything she felt and made masterpieces that would live on forever. Like in my own drawings, she often painted herself with all these abstract and very surreal imagery around her.

In conclusion, Frida Kahlo is an artist whom has shaped me greatly and I constantly continue to draw much inspiration from her. As I stare into her paintings, I see the inner turmoil and sadness she went through. But I also feel the relentless beating heart of a strong and powerful woman. I can only dream that one day someone will feel the same about my artwork.

**Originally published in Spanish in the July 27th, 2013 issue of Antesala