Juan Hinojosa is a multi-media artist who creates elaborate and highly detailed one-off pieces that address a spectrum of questions tied to the Culture of Capitalism, with nuanced humor and shrew.
The glamorization of wealth and power via fashion magazines and television can cast a spell on just about anyone. Growing up in a low-income family, the desire to have more then you could afford became a constant struggle. This led to my obsession with high-end goods, superheroes, and geometrical symmetry. As I go around the city collecting discard items related to these influences I repurpose them as a tool to draw with. Drawing with found materials has changed the way I look at my own trash and the trash around me. By recycling the random items I have found over the years I am creating faux symmetrical collages and installations. Since none of these found items are ever duplicated or altered, the goal of geometrical symmetry put to the test. As I mix high-end products with low-end goods I am mashing up two polar opposites that do not normally go together. I, like most Americans, am conflicted with consumerism and these works are a result of my own bad habits, desires, and greed.
Tell us about your current exhibition at the RS
The exhibition at The Roger Smith Hotel is going to be a favorite of mine. After speaking to the lovely Danika Druttman, we decided that an installation would be best suited for the space. I looked at what I did in my past installations, I wanted to use new materials, subtract some elements, and replace them with others. I know that sounds vague, but I don’t know how else to explain it. Guess the viewer will have to step into it to fully understand what I mean.
What was your creative process for these pieces?
Like with any piece I make (collage or installation), music for me, has its role in the process of creating. I have a wide selection of music that inspires me. I like to put my Spotify on and sit in my studio, enjoying myself as I spend hours on the floor, cutting, collaging, or contemplating on the shape and direction of my work. Every piece of art starts with a single image and it all grows from there.
Your inspirations take you everywhere. While in your travels, do you gather materials that you later incorporate in your pieces?
Yes! I can’t help myself. Found materials play a huge role in my work. I visited Europe thanks to a generous artist grant which I used to visit five cities in about a 2 months time. As I walked around Berlin, Zurich, Geneva, Evian, and Basel I’d often stop and look around for things that would later become part of a series. By the end of the trip I had collected so much stuff that my luggage was far too heavy causing one of the wheels brake off. I did not think I would return with as much materials as I did. Honestly, I just couldn’t leave it all behind.
How long does it take you to come up with a concept, or do you find yourself taking a blank canvas and building on it until you feel it’s complete? At what point do you feel it’s complete?
The lapse of time between start and finish can vary. I like to believe magic happens and everything just falls into place. Other times are less magical and more … delicate. It’s difficult to put a time frame on these things. With that said, the feeling of a piece being completed is more instinctual than anything else. I currently have a diptych hanging on my studio wall that I’ve been working on nearly 2 years now. Not sure what direction I’m going with it, but I’m enjoying the shape and life its taking.
Do you create a mood in your studio before you start creating?
I never really thought about the mood. I guess I’d call it a mix of silence and color. I seldom allow anyone else in my space when I’m working. I barely answer the phone or look at emails. I’m usually alone – on the floor with music filling the emptiness in the air and my red scissors in hand. I think knowing I have a full time job on Monday morning really pushes me to be creative on the weekends.
What artists inspire you?
I love this question for two reasons. 1. I love other artists, and 2. I love making lists.
(In no particular order)
1. Tim Hawkinson
2. Jeffrey Gibson
3. Nice Collective
4. Nick Cave
5. Kate Clark
7. Tom Sachs
8. Baz Luhrmann
9. Krysten Ritter
10. Tatiana Maslany
There are so many more I could mention but I’ll be here all day.
Where are your artistic endeavors taking you next? Are you experimenting with anything new?
I’m the Artist-in-Residence at Materials for the Arts, which is a fantastic organization here in New York. They offer artist studio space, materials, and a solo exhibition in December. Personally, I think it’s a match made in heaven. I can’t wait to start. I’m working on that solo exhibition until Dec. In 2016 I’ll be part of a group show at Union College in upstate NY, curated by the amazing Julie Lohnes, Curator of Art collections and Exhibitions for the art program. Julie and I met a few years ago while we were both at the Vermont Studio Center, and have maintained a friendship ever since.
Get social with Juan Hinojosa at www.juanhinojosa.com