Artist, the kites of thinking, philosophers, dreamers, they are the bright gold in the grey. They see the world as a beautiful array of colors and shapes. The world is a canvas, leaving just enough space for everyone to paint their own story, artists with their own lives in the white of the world. As they run their colorful strokes over into the lives of many others.
The composition of the painting is curious. Eyes are darting from place to place unable to decide what the focus piece should be. It’s like a novel condensed onto a single page. His pencil swirls with every flick in his wrist, satisfying streaks of graphite coloring adorn the pale paper. His hand moves instinctively to the right spot building a new picture, often one that people haven’t seen before.
David Restrepo moves like an artist. With his eyes taking in more detail than the average person, his limbs dancing even as he walked. His movement comes like a river, often gentle, yet with a flow that appears to have a sense of where it is going.
Marcela Ramos Castillo, a sculpture instructor at Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts has said, “David has a gift for merging naturalistic, representational elements with imaginative, fantastical ones, which renders unique worlds in his drawings. David is also a notably thoughtful student who applies philosophical meanings to his art. These concepts range from human concepts of love, desire, death, and exploring the unknown.”
David Restrepo’s talents have made him the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Gold Key as well as various regional Gold and Silver Keys.
Restrepo’s painting dominates walls. Every color is bold and painted with such precise lines. Art is a history of the human soul. It is dreams emerging from a part of ourselves and the people around us.
“Every culture eventually came across a time where they needed to express and share their culture and beliefs,” said Restrepo. “Every community has the need to create. I’ve come to see a lot of people overlook the need for artist and art in the community. We shouldn’t give up our need to create and share our history, to share our community, just like every other cultural community.”
In this interview between Nile Fortner and David Restrepo, Restrepo discusses the Boca art scene, his artistic background, his art program for locals, and more.
“The community needs to get back into making art with a higher purpose not just art for art’s sake,” – David Restrepo
NF: What’s your artistic background and why do you feel the need to make art?
DR: From elementary school, I started sketching and my teachers took notice. I even studied at Dreyfoos School of the Arts. In eighth grade, I entered into the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards and won a gold medal for my photography. I got to visit New York because of that award and my photography was featured at the Parsons School of Design gallery which is a college I recently got into. That year I sculpted a pot with a face called ‘Ugly Jug’. It was ugly to look at, but people loved it. From then, I’ve done sculpting and digital art.
NF: What’s the biggest difference between local and mainstream art and artist?
DR: Mainstream art has become more of what they are selling. That’s why you see all these paintings for millions of dollars. With local art, I’m seeing more people trying to popularize themselves with the city. We’re seeing a lot of pop shows and events that really focus on giving art for the community. They label us as artists and not just vendors and merchants. They’re starting to see us as a creative benefit rather than a business. I love local shows like that, that stuff is sick, man.
One of Restrepo’s most popular works of art is his portrait of Neptune. Restrepo’s painting of a statue of Neptune shows the masculine God of freshwater and the sea crying. “This Neptune portrait resembles when I changed schools and I went through Hurricane Matthew,” said Restrepo.
“I was stuck in my house for three weeks,” said Restrepo. “I felt like a statue and a little lifeless. I felt sadness and the sculpture symbolizes feeling lifeless like a statue yet feeling something real, a real emotion.”
NF: So is the Neptune piece still your favorite and something that speaks with you?
DR: It was, but it’s changed. So many people like that one and bought prints, shirts of it, stickers, and I’m always going to be proud of it. One of my most recent ones is a full body drawing of a woman named DESIRE.
DESIRE is a woman with curves of softness, chestnut colored hair drapes over her glasses, and her skin resembles golden browns like smooth caramel.
“DESIRE is the piece I made for my recent acceptance into Parsons School of Design as well as MICA and Pratt,” said Restrepo. DESIRE is made from charcoal with a range of pastels and watercolor pencils. “It’s a new medium for me and I like how it shows desire is unique to one’s eye, said Restrepo. “My desire, my voice is unique to me, just like with my opportunities.”
“I was fearful of my future and I would sketch for weeks,” – David Restrepo
NF: Are there any other real-life situations that inspired you or one of your artistic pieces?
DR: Every single piece has a story of upbringing. There has to have been an event that had to have happened for me to create this. When I was younger, being in a relationship, getting kicked out of an art school, it was all because I hung around the wrong people. They influenced me to do things I didn’t want to do. I made one of them jealous and they planted drugs in my locker. Yeah, it was crazy.
Not a lot of my new friends know that, to be honest. But I’d rather be more expressive of that now that I have a chance to show people who cares what those types of people have to say? When I got kicked out, I thought it would be a feeling of forever. I was fearful of my future and I would sketch for weeks in my new school. Until I started talking to new people and people started talking to me. That new environment that felt tough really showed me how young artist come together to support. It turned out I didn’t have to just create from tragedy. I’ve grown in and out of school and I’ve grown with my art, and a lot of new people. Nothing’s too tough for me anymore.
NF: Can artistic life get lonely and what do you do to counteract it?
DR: Hell no! (Laughs) I’ve found people with the same passion and being an artist has opened me to meeting all kinds of new people throughout so many places. I do need to be a little isolated when doing some work. But seeing people and that reaction makes me feel connected.
One way Restrepo has connected himself with other creative types is by starting Artist Awareness. Restrepo is also the founder of the club Artist Awareness. As founder, Restrepo hopes to help other students to develop professional and networking skills that will aid them in pursuing art as a career. “It strikes me that it’s in David’s instincts to help others achieve after achieving some of his own artistic success,” said Castillo.
DR (CONT’D): Being an artist and Artist Awareness has opened avenues that I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for this. Just to get someone to help you think outside the box can be fun. Recently, I was with another friend and we came across a toilet seat at a thrift store and we thought, “Why not try to turn it into something special?” A portrait of someone with a toilet seat frame for a message.
NF: Do you believe Boca lacks in Arts & Culture when compared to Miami or Fort Lauderdale for instance, and why do you believe that is?
DR: Just from passing through and doing shows like at The Flamingo House, we see a lot of upper-class people looking at art. It’s only the upper-class that has a wide eye to see all the variety of art. You don’t have to be dressed fancy, drinking wine, and eating cheese to only see art.
When you’re in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm, art is everywhere. From museums to on the streets, it’s open for everyone’s viewing. Miami, for instance, pours a lot of money to represent art and culture, which brings in tourism. While Boca lacks that tourism because we aren’t representing the art, we are not representing all the cultures, we are not representing all the voices we have here.
Everyone should be able to come here and enjoy not just the art, but everyone regardless of class. The community needs to get back into making art with a higher purpose and meaning. Not just art for art’s sake.
NF: So you believe Boca is limiting who can and can’t see art?
DR: Not so much limiting, but not making it accessible as I know it can be, especially for young people. It’s that younger crowd that has been very outspoken and supportive of wanting more art. They want that following because of representation and they love it. I love seeing these people in Boca, I love seeing the creative eye and those creative people making others hyped about art. But I know deep down Boca is ready to except art and get that following.
NF: What type of advice would you give to artists who are trying to build their careers, especially in Boca?
DR: Don’t be afraid to start out simple and small. Think of your work as a form of evolution. I would really love to see every piece we make be an evolution of our craft and community.
To see more of David Restrepo’s artwork and inquiries on events and merchandise, you may follow him on Instagram @tri.lo.gy. You may also find him on Snapchat at david.colombian and you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (561) 701 – 0574
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