Interview with Juan Barletta


Juan Barletta (1974) was born and lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina; he studied fine art at Neuquén School of Arts. Juan’s works focus on consumerism and desire, his photo-realist paintings evoke an ambiguous duality of desire and beauty. Juan's images of often controversial iconic figures within popular culture question the ideals of synthetic beauty and its imagined reality. He alludes towards the falsity of images represented within the media and its distorted boundaries of what is real and artificial.



Hi Juan, today you have selected for MoW four of your artworks inspired by music. Can you tell MoW why you chose to create artwork inspired by music artists ? And the reason why you chose these singers and musicians for your artworks ?

I choose to paint musicians to approach them somehow. I admire them, respect them, I would like to be one of them. I think they have the ability to reach our emotions in a deeper way. Although we may never possess what we want, we have the physical evidence that we love that desire and to remember the stuff of which dreams are made of. I borrow the image of them to capture on canvas, a reminder of something that we can never get.

I created a portrait of David Bowie after the Opera Gallery in London has contacted me and invited me to participate with a select group of artists on an important tribute to Bowie, called "The Many Faces of David Bowie" made at their Britain seat.

Michael Jackson was the first musician who I had portrayed. His music accompanies my life. After his death I wanted to immortalize him on a big canvas. M Jackson, is one of those people who does not look as flesh and bones. His voice, his movements, rhythm, creativity and even his own image seemed to be from another planet, seemed to be made of another material than the rest of us.

Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry bring joy color, irony, humor, frivolity, sensuality, trends, originality that is why they took over the entertainment industry. They are icons of mainstream contemporary pop culture. Although I do not listen to their music, I respect them a lot because they both are great artists and are closely associated with the spirit that represents my work.

Do you have a favorite piece between the four? 

Definitely the Bowie´s painting. Not only because he is the artist that I admire the most, but because this artwork was about to be destroyed, I had the brushes remained literally stuck to the canvas and the material did not moved, moreover, the oil did not dry and I had very few days to send it to London. By chance I found out that the white oil  (with which I mixed most of the colors) was shabby and this altered the painting. Finally I could finish the artwork and it arrived on time and was elected as main work to lead the show in the window of the gallery. The impact was great. Besides having come out in various local and international magazines, the Bowie´s official site published this piece to advertise the tribute. It is also a book cover in Italy dedicated to the artist's biography.

Why is music important to you, in your life and in your art?

Music is important in my painting because it is important in my life. In my life because I live with it all the time, except when I sleep. I am a man with enough sensitivity and music has the power to transport me, empathize, or alter my mood.

Do you have plans on creating new artworks inspired by music/musicians ?

Yes, this year I set out for the first time, that I will carry my work to sculpture. Following David Bowie's recent death I want to pay tribute to him. On the other hand I just received an order for a digital work, guess who? yessss.. Bowie again!!! :D It will cover Billboard Argentina and also participate in a group show in Argentina. As for painting portraits of a musician certainly, but I do not have decided who yet.

Can you tell Mow more about your techniques? How long have you been painting? How did it start?

My paintings have a hand of acrylic and two of oil. Without trying to be hyper realistic, I try to be as careful as possible with the details and nuances of shadows, reflections and lights. I have been drawing for all my life. Like any child I used to draw everything. But unlike most children, drawing was all that I did. I was a bit of a hermit, I preferred to stay at home locked, drawing. I did not play much, but through my drawings, I was Superman, Spiderman or whatever my imagination suggested me through the graphite pencil. If my family took me to the circus, I would turn quickly to draw clowns, trapeze artists, lions, elephants, etc. I remember that I liked Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, and I have spent reams of paper portraying her again and again compulsively. Then, I discovered the color through painting and it opened a new universe that until today I still have been discovering.

 How long does it take you to make an artwork?

Times are quite related for several factors. The artwork begins when I have a (digital) sketch that convinces me and always I do get a work plan, that I never managed to accomplish. Right now I have very young children that demands me a lot, so I have little time to produce. Another factor that influence the production' s time is the canvas' s size, the larger and longer, requires more time. The number of items escorts the composition of my portraits, is crucial to take into account to the time it takes to produce my paintings.

Do you listen to music when your working ? If so, what is the kind of music you would listen to?

Music always accompanies me, when I'm painting is no exception. I am very broad for musical genres, and much depends on my mood in the selection. When I paint a musician, I paint with his music, this way I connect better with the portrait, I get closer to the essence of the artist, I can see features that are not in the reference image. Taking up the experience I had with the Bowies' painting,  in which one of the oils happened to be shabby and therefore, I had to remove virtually all the paint and start over and as time was short, I had no choice but to paint in the morning, noon and night, almost without interruption (obviously listening to his music). The positive was that thanks to this musical marathon I had time to listen to his entire discography and discover material that I haven't heard of him before and discover my favorite artist.

What is the song you liked the most lately? 

The song that I liked the most is "Sleep Away" by David Bowie 


What was the last gig you went to?

The last show that I went to was Roger Waters "The Wall".

Are you a musician yourself?

Unfortunately not :( I would have liked to be a good frontman or rockstar singer (Jagger type), but my singing It 's a disaster :)



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