Jota Leal: About Face (March 12 – May 28, 2016)

(East Gallery) Born in a humble little town in eastern Venezuela in the mid-eighties Jota Leal began drawing and painting at a very young age and never studied fine art.

Jota Leal and Dali

Jota Leal and Dali

He attempted to sit in class as a child of six but ran away after being forced to paint plastic fruit and empty bottles. Even at that age, Jota (pron: Hota) knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to paint people. He wanted to paint their faces.

Having been surrounded by engineers and those with ‘real’ jobs, Leal went on to study electrical engineering and graduated with honors. No one in his family knows how he accomplished this, as he was so obsessed with drawing and painting. It didn’t take long for his circuits to become lines, numbers to become colors, and brushes replaced the sweep of physics theories.

Now Jota paints all the time. He blames his obsession on his parents. “They made me believe it was something I was good at. I have not stopped painting since.” In 2001 Jota traveled to Spain and immersed himself in the history and technique of art. Upon returning to his hometown in Venezuela, he was awarded Caricaturist of the Year in 2003. His art follows the grand tradition of the great portrait painters of the past, as well as the more recent caricature masters. Jota’s oeuvre is a part with the likes of Honore’ Daumier and Otto Dix. His sense of humor shows the delicate whimsy of a Max Beerbohn or Al Hirschfeld, but with a more fully rendered painting style.

Jota’s style results in a synergy of remarkable painting skill and a probing sense of the subject’s soul, and often tweaked with a remarkable sense of humor. Leal works with pencil on paper, acrylic on board, and acrylic on canvas to achieve his amazing images. He paints the inner soul of his subjects, and manifests this as their outer persona. He is an interpreter of the subconscious, translating with his pencils and brushes. His amazing portraits of Johnny Depp, Jimi Hendrix, John Malkovitch, Al Pacino as Scarface, Babe Ruth, and others are classics of their kind. Jota exhibits his works in the United States and Asia.

Guest Curators:
James R. Cowan of Morpheus Fine Art
Alisa Grodsky

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