Salomón Huerta “Kiss,”
Art Growth

Salomón Huerta Transcends Challenging Beginnings to Become a World-Class Artist

BraverGuide is about living boldly, bravely and courageously and Salomón certainly exemplifies these traits.

Salomon Huerta
Salomón Huerta
(Photo by: Pablo Aguilar)

Salomón Huerta Interview, DECEMBER, 2020

I’m talking with my friend Solomón Huerta who is an accomplished, talented and inspiring artist; his courageous path to become an artist inspired me to interview him.

Salomón, I really appreciate you making the time today, I thought I’d jump right in and share your background:

Originally from Tijuana, Mexico, Solomón grew up in the Boyle Heights Projects of East Los Angeles.  Solomón received a full scholarship to attend the Arts Center College of Design and completed his MFA at UCLA. Salomón gained critical acclaim for his minimalist portraits of the backs of people’s heads and color saturated depictions of domestic urban architecture. Salomón’s works are included in public collections of major museums around the world and collected by top collectors.

Cabeza / Back of Head
Salomón Huerta
Cabeza / Back of Head, oil on canvas, 12″ x 11 3/4″, 1999
Salomon Huerta, Untitled (Sienna House)
Salomón Huerta
Untitled (Sienna House) Color aquatint with drypoint, 34” × 33”, 2001

I thought we’d start by going through some of your work to give those who may not be familiar, an idea of your style and work. As well I want to show those who are familiar with your work what you’re working on now!

Salomón:
Thanks, Ron. Yes, the back of the heads; the original take was to create a portrait without seeing the face and I wanted to challenge myself, like, can I create a portrait without something that I’m familiar with, and that’s what we see in the face of portraits.

Salomon Huerta, Head
Salomón Huerta
Untitled (Head #8), oil on canvas, 12″ x 11 3/4″, 2001

With the flowers it was the same thing. I didn’t want to be just known as the figurative painter, I wanted to create something more than that and I did these flowers that would accompany a painting of a fighter, and the title of these flowers is Disaster.

Salomón Huerta, Disaster
Salomón Huerta
Disaster, oil on panel, 16” x 12”, 2019

I love Rodin, I love the roundness and physicality of his work and I wanted to capture that in the painting the way it was painted, very rough and sloppy but with something very gentle that would accompany the way it was painted.

Salomon Huerta
Salomón Huerta
“Kiss after Rodin,” oil on canvas, 36” x 23”, 2019

[With] the houses, I wanted to create a house that would accompany the back of the heads. I took like regular houses around L.A. and kind of upgraded them and put cypress trees or a pool in the front yard, which you will never see that, but I wanted to create something unbelievable and kind of surreal.

Salomon Huerta, House with pool,
Salomon Huerta
House with pool, oil on canvas, 24” x 35”, 2019

Salomón:
(looking at Gun with Mezcal) From the age of 9 to 16 my dad would have me bring him food to his room and I would always bring him a glass of milk glass or water or bread or like toast or a banana. I would place it near the loaded gun that was on the night table, he had it ready because we lived in a really bad neighborhood. I didn’t make much of it because I got used to that gun since the age of five but later I realized how crazy that was, you know to have a loaded gun ready… at night, throughout the day. I decided to make these paintings of that. I never brought him a skull of course, but this is a continuation of what i’m doing now. I wanted to see what I can do, how would the gun look with the skull or with the shot of tequila or other stuff from my upbringing.

Salomón Huerta Gun with skull
Salomón Huerta
Gun with skull, oil on canvas, 14″ x 16”, 2020
Salomón Huerta, Gun with mezcal,
Salomón Huerta
Gun with mezcal, oil on canvas, 14″ x1 6”, 2020

(looking at El Santo) And, I love the Mexican wrestlers. I would like to see what I can do by manipulating them but this is where i’m at right now. Like the stages of just painting them really fast to see what will come out. I’m trying to take it further than what I’m doing now, but it’s a process and I’ve been working on this since 2007, and this is where I’m at now with them.

Salomón Huerta, El Santo
Salomón Huerta
El Santo, oil on canvas, 10″ x 8”, 2019

Salomón:
This is a house from the housing projects, I wanted to make it a little more attractive so I have the cypress tree and this this pool, that’s not really a pool, and these hedge but I wanted to make it more appeal in from something that was more kind of oppressive.

Salomon Huerta, Pool
Salomón Huerta|
Pool, oil on canvas, 24″ x 20”, 2014

Ron:
I see. I’d like to see it next to a David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, They’re sort of polar opposites in a poetic way.

Salomón:
Yes. I was inspired by David Hockney and Edward Hopper. I was looking at what they were doing and I wanted to do like my version of that, you know, but of course with my upbringing, my take on it.

Ron:
Right. It’s great.

Salomón:
Thanks. (looking at Kiss) And, another version of The Kiss from Rodin, same thing you know, it’s painted very sloppy, really fast. I like the rough physicality to the painting but with the gentle image.

Salomón Huerta, Kiss
Salomón Huerta
Kiss, oil on canvas, 16” x 11”, 2019

(referencing Unmaked) Another wrestler. I paint them within two hours because a lot of happy accidents happen rather than if I would have taken my time. I see the possibility of creating something different than if I would have taken my time.

Salomón  Huerta, Unmasked
Salomón Huerta
Unmasked, oil on panel, “ 10” x 8”, 2020

Ron:
You choose challenging subjects, if you choose simple subjects you don’t treat them simply. I think your work challenges the viewer too, is that intentional?


Salomón:
Yes. I’m trying to create images that if people, that is, if more than one person is looking at the work they all can have their own take on it. Being raised in the housing projects, simple things, like things that should be simple, would end up being very complicated. So, I wanted to create things that I can obscure or change the take on how people would normally see it. The tension naturally comes from my upbringing. In terms of how they’re composed or how they’re painted, that just naturally comes out and I also call it the weight of the painting, I want the painting to have more weight, like more presence.

Ron:
Great. Around the time you were in the Whitney Biennial an interviewer mentioned that you had a meticulous painting technique at the time they were brightly colored paintings with very tight lines.

I think that more recently your work has less saturated colors and less defined lines, can share the evolution of your the past 20 years?

Salomón:
Well, in the beginning I was painting with the what the process of using this medium called Liquin which allows the paintings to dry really fast. But, after after 15 years of painting that way, I got sick with the toxic material. So then I had to learn how to paint all over again without using that toxic material. This allowed me to just paint stuff in one shot and by painting stuff in one shot, a whole new way of looking at the image came out, a whole new way, a whole new brush stroke. In order to paint the paintings in one setting, came the process of painting that way.

Ron:
Great. Thank you. You had mentioned that you work with a homeopathic doctor that gets you gets helps you to get issues to bubble up so you can create or create better. Do you want to share a little bit more about that?

Salomón:
Yes, I have a homeopath. Her name is Deborah Gangel and she helps me to release blocks when I’m painting. So, if I’m doing a painting that stimulates me the wrong way, and it takes me back to a moment that I haven’t dealt with, I work with her talk about what was going on and what I’m feeling with this painting. She gives me a remedy a homeopathic remedy that releases the emotion and then allows me to be present and to create the work in a natural process.

Ron:
Some of your work, I think, touches on dominance, racism classism violence. I understand that harkens back to some of the ways you were raised is there other intention behind that?

Salomón:
Those things naturally come out. My girlfriend always says, why do you choose subject matters that take you down a dark alley? I said to her, look, I I’m not trying to go there; I’m not trying to be depressed. I’m choosing images that may be depressing from the beginning but I bring them to the light by changing the way they’re painted. The new composition and color creates a new reality to them and to allow people to enjoy them and to see a story that’s that maybe was depressing in the beginning but now is more uplifting.

Ron:
Wow, so therapeutic. I heard maybe you’ll work on larger canvases?

Salomón:
Yes i want i want to explore going larger. I normally do large paintings for an exhibition only because they can store it in case if it doesn’t sell. (laughs) I don’t have the storage space for a large painting but I want to explore that because I think it opens up a lot of possibilities to the work.

Ron: You know you can store them at my house! (laughter)
What are some of your goals or dreams for the future or what do you want to conquer?

Salomón:
Well you know I would love to travel and explore images that are not related to the figure and maybe some kind of like landscape or maybe something abstract, if possible.

Ron:
Fun question – if you could have lunch with a mentor or anybody (alive or dead) who would you choose?

Salomón:
I love the work of Rudolph Stingo. I follow his work; I think the guy’s a total genius, a living master. I would love to pick his brain and see what he what inspires him and what makes him, like, where does the work come from?

Ron:
Great, is there anything else you’d like to share?

Salomón:
Yes, people people can follow me on Instagram or Facebook sometimes I post stories, you know, that are really entertaining and on on instagram I’m working on being a little more active but you can see what I’m currently working on.

Ron:
Great, I really appreciate your time today, I know you’re busy and I’m looking forward to seeing your paintings continue to evolve!

Salomón:
Thanks, Ron. Thanks for featuring me on BraverGuide!


Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Please subscribe.

Visit other Personal Growth articles on BraverGuide.

Contact BraverGuide if you are interested in an interview. Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

*