The “Track Light” series serves to briefly introduce a number of individuals involved
with the One World Artist Gallery (OWAG) from their various places around the globe.
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In this post, I talk with Spanish illustrator and painter Jesuso Ortiz.
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John: So where are you from and where do you call home these days, Jesuso?
Jesuso: I was born in the province of Córdoba, in the south of Spain… although I have been living in Málaga for almost twenty years now. I came to Málaga originally to study, and after finishing my university degree I stayed here for work. The weather and the people here are wonderful!
John: How did you first get into drawing or painting? What were your earliest influences?
Jesuso: I’ve always been interested in art. Since I was very young I liked to draw, and when I was fourteen years old I entered an art school in my hometown. My first artistic influences as a teenager were Monet and the Impressionists. What I liked about them was their use of color and the shape of the brushstrokes. I found their style very delicate and at the same time very free. A bit later my tastes changed, and I was quite inspired by the work of Andy Warhol when I found him.
John: Yeah, I think in your paintings (which I’ll ask you about later) those influences are reflected a bit. Matisse comes to mind for me.
Jesuso: Honestly, over the years I’ve been inspired by many contemporary artists. Nature also inspires me a lot. I think the world hides beauty in every corner; you just have to be awake to find it.
John: The first illustrations of yours I saw were the ink drawings on top of photographs of flowers or food or other small objects. How did you begin this series? Where did the idea of working this way come from?
Jesuso: The idea of mixing illustration with photography arose spontaneously. One day I just came up with the idea of a picture and a drawing together, and when I posted it, it became very popular among my Instagram followers. So I kept experimenting on that line.
John: They’re very delicate and playful pieces. And you sell these illustrations online?
Jesuso: Yes, on my website.
John: But your painting on the DrawBag is quite different from this. Recently you started sharing more paintings done in this style. Can you tell me more about that style of yours?
Jesuso: Yes, the painting I did on the DrawBag is totally different from the illustration we just spoke of. Actually, I only recently returned to painting in this way, and I thought it would work much better for this project.
I started out as a painter and not as an illustrator. And in my painting, I would experiment with flat and strong colors and the restraint of geometric shapes. The result was quite appealing. I recently created a new Instagram account for my paintings in this style, and I also have an upcoming exhibition.
John: I noticed a bit of writing by Alejandro Jodorowsky on your website’s homepage. I think he’s gained some wider appeal in recent years due to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which is about his pre-production work on what would have been an earlier film of the famous sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert. Has Jodorowsky been an influence to you as well?
Jesuso: Yes, Jodorowsky is an artist who I deeply admire. I’ve learned a lot listening to him and watching his movies. I like the message of awareness he sends to the world and the ways he transmits that. He uses his art to teach that problems are not outside of us… they are inside everyone. It’s the way in which you look at the world that determines what happens in your life. It’s not a good idea to blame others for everything negative that happens to us– it’s better to look at oneself and to change this.
John: Do you think that’s a message people are really receptive to these days?
Jesuso: Yes. I think that people are much more open to waking up. Many have already discovered that wealth and material well-being is very good, but it’s not enough to bring real peace to one’s life. When one starts to question many things they have previously believed to be true, it is through this that they can gain new awareness.