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Jota Leal is a master portrait painter, who adds a surreal or whimsical twist to his amazing work. He was born in a humble little town in eastern Venezuela, thirty-four years ago. He began drawing and painting at a very young age, and never studied fine art in school. He attempted to sit in class as a child of… Read More
Jota Leal is a master portrait painter, who adds a surreal or whimsical twist to his amazing work. He was born in a humble little town in eastern Venezuela, thirty-four years ago. He began drawing and painting at a very young age, and never studied fine art in school. He attempted to sit in class as a child of six, but ran away after being forced to paint plastic fruit and empty bottles. Even at that age, Leal knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to paint people. More specifically, he wanted to paint their faces. Leal was the second of three brothers, each possessing their own unique talent. Their parents worked in the oil fields. One of Jota’s first memories is of drawing some lines for his amazed parents, as a baby. His subsequent birthday and Christmas gifts were all limited to pencils, crayons, and drawing materials. Having been surrounded by engineers and those with ‘real’ jobs, Jota went on to study electrical engineering and graduated with honors. No one in his family knows how he accomplished this, as he was so obsessed with drawing and painting. It didn’t take long for his circuits to become lines, numbers to become colors, and brushes to replace the sweep of physics theories.

Early on, Jota found influences and inspirations from the great masters. Rembrandt taught him the value of light and dark, Velasquez work bespoke of composition, Francis Bacon imparted the value of distortion, Van Gogh a sense of color, and Sheele, the sense of movement in the subject.

In 2001 Leal traveled to Spain and lived there, immersing himself in the history and technique of art. Oddly, it was on that trip that Jota became aware that so much of what he liked to paint, people in some form of metamorphosis or reveal, was being done very well in his native Latin America. Artists like Lorendano, Carlos Nine, and Hermenegildo Sabat all added to the mix of influences that has culminated in the current works of this most remarkable painter. Jota received the prestigious Caricaturist of the Year Award for 2003, and has since exhibited in Europe, America, and South America.

Jota’s style results in a synergy of remarkable painting skills and a probing sense of the subject’s soul, often tweaked with a remarkable sense of humor. Jota works with pencil on paper, acrylic on board, and acrylic on canvas to achieve his amazing images. His paintings take many days of intensive planning and study, before a brush ever touches paint for the first time. He immerses himself in the imagery and sounds of his subjects, whether that centers on watching films, reading books, or listening to music. Jota focuses on painting the inner soul of his subjects, and manifests this as their outer persona. In a way, he paints his subjects from the inside out. He is an interpreter of the subconscious, translating with his pencils and brushes. His amazing portraits of Johnny Depp, Jimi Hendrix, John Malkovitch, The Beatles, Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe, and others are classics of their kind. His work exhibits an extremely rare mix of painterly realism, and the artist’s most personal touch of the surreal.

Now Jota paints all the time, and is at the peak of his profession. He blames his obsession on his parents. “They made me believe it was something I was good at. I have not stopped painting since.”

Jota is represented by James Cowan of Morpheus Fine Art in Las Vegas, NV. 702-233-3339. Read Less
Surreal Portraiture
www.jotaleal.com
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