As we approach the end of Latinx Heritage Month, we are proud to spotlight and celebrate the incredible creative contributions of the Latinx and Hispanic artists on Creatively all year long.
In a world where the digital threatens to replace the physical, it’s artists like Juliana Plexxo whom we count on to uphold and preserve the relevancy, the immediacy, and the emotional resonance of creative practices rooted in tradition. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Plexxo is a contemporary artist and muralist known for combining painting with the age-old technique of engraving, creating a style wholly her own.
Plexxo discovered her gift for painting as a young child, and has spent her life polishing her skills while pushing the boundaries of the medium. With an undeniable proclivity for reds, whites and blacks, inspiration for Plexxo’s color palettes can be traced back to her late father, a journalist who covered bullfighting with whom she attended many fights. Her work is defined by geometric shapes reminiscent of early 20th-century abstract expressionism that come together to form faces, eyes, and animals more frequently found in Latin folk art.
Plexxo studied at the University of Navarra and was selected among a small, elite group of emerging artists for a residency at the legendary Joan Barbará workshop, the famous studio in Barcelona where renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí mastered the art of engraving. Positioning herself at the intersection between past and present, implementing traditional practices to express contemporary content, one can confidently say that Plexxo has carved her niche as an artist.
You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.
What is the first creative project you remember?
I have had a few creative projects but the first creative project that I remember with great passion was when I began to learn the technique of engraving. Ever since I got involved, I told myself that my mission was to give back to the world this ancient artistic technique that was so glorious in periods such as the Renaissance. Life gave me the opportunity to be chosen by the Joan Barbará engraving workshop, the place where great masters such as Dalí, Picasso, Miró, and many more created their works. It is an honor that my pieces come from this place.
Describe your aesthetic in three words.
Mystical, past, future.
What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?
I was recently invited by the Misonny Art Festival in Costa Brava, Spain, to make a live mural with Australian artist Sarah Main. It was a challenge because it was a live performance for two days but it was very satisfactory. We are both women and, you know, normally you are used to seeing men doing murals but I really liked living the experience and connecting with the people who went to the art festival.
What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?
The project I learned the most from was painting the “Raices” (roots) mural in the indigenous region of Ecuador. It was an 8-meter mural in Hacienda Pinsaqui, a 1700s villa and the former residence of Simón Bolívar. I dedicated this project to the indigenous culture that continues to endure. I realized that many times in Latin culture we ourselves deny our ancestors, but this mural made me spend a week surrounded by the indigenous community. Many of them work on the villa and I realized that they are the purest and most noble people that I had ever known in my life. It was something that I cannot describe in words, something mystical and that is what my art is about, mysticism.
Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?
I’ve always asked myself this question—it’s like the chicken or the egg. The only thing that is clear to me is that all humans have creativity, and the difference between having more or less creativity is curiosity. The most creative and inventive people in the world are children; they are always questioning everything. Curiosity is the secret and fuel of creativity and I personally believe that curiosity is something that is formed over time, the interest in discovering something new every day. Curiosity always motivates us and that is acquired. A very good example is when your work motivates you, you want to know more and more every day, there is curiosity and behind comes creativity. But if your work does not motivate you, you are not interested in knowing more and creativity decreases notably. A scientist is a super creative person because he loves what he does, gets involved, has curiosity on the surface and continues to discover through creativity. It’s the same with the artist. An artist who makes his art with the soul will never lack creativity.
What’s the last dream you had?
This is something that I tend to write about lately. Dreams are very important for human beings, in my opinion. They act as a mirror and, as I have mentioned, I love everything that has some mysticity, and dreams are a good example. My last recurring dream is that I am in a parallel universe. I would even call it a Plexxo universe because graphically I come across many works that I have done over time.
One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?
I would love it if 100 years from now people could understand what the engraving technique is. That is my mission as a young artist now, to rescue the technique, and I would like them to know that Juliana Plexxo was a Latin woman artist proud of her roots.
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