Self-taught abstract artist German Bustamante was born in Chile, but he was raised and educated in the UK. Abstraction has allowed him to express his own spiritual vision of life represented by symbolic imagery that deals with ethereal planes, astral flights, primeval feelings, mental and emotional journeys, and other intangible human issues.
He is a Circle Foundation for the Arts Affiliate Artist in Lyon, France, and his work has been purchased by private collectors and realtors both in Hong Kong and in Chile. His work was also published in the 18 issues of Spotlight Magazine. He was exhibited at the Expo Metro Opera Station in Paris in 2020.
“Each painting is a journey for me. A journey into my inner self. It’s an emotional and absorbing process that talks about my spiritual and metaphysical concepts of who we really are and why we chose to come and live in this dual-density plane.”
How would you describe what you do? And how did you discover that this is your purpose?
German: I’m a self-taught abstract artist and my work is like a metaphor that contains more than one meaning. I’ve been using symbolic imagery to deal with that, to show other landscapes full of circles, curvilinear elements, and panels, but everything is changing and evolving, so it won’t be like that all the time. I feel I’m really alive when I’m painting. I enjoy the whole process even when I don’t feel satisfied with the result because I know it can be corrected and improved. My purpose is to constantly grow as an artist and to explore new ways to express this metaphor on the canvas.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
German: Each painting is a journey for me. A journey into my inner self. It’s an emotional and absorbing process that talks about my spiritual and metaphysical concepts of who we really are and why we chose to come and live in this dual-density plane. Abstraction has allowed me to express all this in a rather metaphorical way. I feel free to explore and there are so many things to discover.
I love oil paint for its flexibility, depth of color, and slow process to dry. And the smell. Oh, the smell of oil paint and turpentine….I’ve used soft gesso, structure gel, mineral powder and sugar for texture. Colors are also very important. I use earth tones a lot. Cadmiums, alizarin, viridians, cobalt, ultramarine, and phthalic.
What is the message you are trying to give with your art?
German: The message I’m trying to give is that we are all voyagers in this dual-density world. Ancient cultures knew it very well. We are here to explore and learn from our own existence and lifetimes. However, our physical human form is just borrowed and functional; it doesn’t belong to us. It never did. Our true essence has no shape at all. We were born eons ago, in another place and density, in a world before Earth. Shapes are metaphors. Optical illusions.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have a specific routine or process?
German: Yes, I have a routine. I usually paint 4 or 5 hours a day, either in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on the day and the activities I do. Sometimes my process is just intuitive. I start with something but it disappears completely by the end of the painting; sometimes I just sketch out my compositions and the idea is much clearer from the beginning.
You were born in Chile but raised and educated in UK. Does your family background influence your life and work as an artist and if yes, how?
German: Yes, definitely. My aunt and I were very close to each other when I was a kid. She was a music teacher and she was the first person in my family who encouraged me to go and try music. She taught me to play both the piano and the guitar when I was 10 years old. On the other hand, my uncle and my grandfather loved charcoal drawing as a hobby. It was like magic to me. I fell in love with the shadows, highlights, and gradations of tone, so I started drawing as a personal challenge. I also had the chance to visit many art galleries and museums, not only in the UK, but in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Spain.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
German: I wanted to be an astronaut or a paleontologist. I’ve always loved space and the idea of having a planet inhabited by huge reptiles was just amazing.
How has your art evolved over the years?
German: I was an avid reader when I was a teen so I started painting fantasy landscapes in acrylic. My artistic inspiration was mainly based on the books I read at that time. Little by little I turned into oil in figurative style and I also pencil drew portraiture, mainly female. My first selling was an equine collection of 12 pieces I painted in oil. It was quite an exciting moment indeed. It feels really nice when people love what you do and want to have that part of you in their home. Then, in 2015 I started working more and more in the abstract style. I’m still developing my own style, though. And I would like to refine it as much as possible. I know everything will change and evolve. It’s already changing and I like it. I think that’s the beauty of art. The never-ending challenge of re-defining yourself.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
German: There are many painters and artists I admire and I feel deeply touched and moved by their work. Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, Modigliani, Soutine, Ensor, Fernando Velazquez, Lissa Bockrath, Samantha Keely Smith, Jason Martin, Eelco Mann, Luis Royo, Shirazeh Houshiary, Michael Whelan, Odd Nerdrum, Siegfried Zademack, Max Ernst, Elsa WeiB, William Turner, John Constable, HR Giger, Breughel, Goya, Daumier and Dore, artists of the fantastique. The list is very eclectic and there’s no resemblance to my work. Their influence is, however, in their passion; their search and their journeys; their discipline, and sensitivity.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
German: Every time a person comes to see my work or every time I get some comments from other artists those are memorable moments to me. People’s affection is magic and hearing their impressions and points of view is very enriching. Another very special moment is when I sell a piece.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
German: You can find my work available for sale on 8 different internet galleries at the moment. You can visit my website or contact me on twitter or just send me an e-mail. I always reply to my e-mails and tweets. I like to get in touch with people. Now, if you are in my city and you would like to come and see my work, just send me an e-mail and we’ll arrange an appointment.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
German: This Covid-19 situation has affected all of us in one way or another, but fortunately after a change of dates, my work will be finally exhibited at Expo Metro 3rd edition, Opera metro station, 2-8 June 2020 in Paris, France. And I hope I will be able to take part in another exhibition at SwissArtExpo 2.0 in SBB Event Hall at Zurich Main Station, Switzerland in August 2020. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
German: As I’m constantly growing as a human being I would like my painting to grow and reach places I can’t even imagine yet. I’m learning and I want to keep doing so. I’ve been moved and inspired by many artists and painters. I think that’s very powerful and I would like to move people too. To inspire others through my work, to connect with people on a deep level. Inspiring comes from being inspired. That’s my purpose.
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