Interview with Alexi Torres

Alexi Torres, photo by Michael J Moore

Alexi Torres, photo by Michael J Moore

Alexi Torres, an artist from Cuba, is known for his stunning oil paintings which are depicted in such way that they appeared as knitted and woven. His paintings are full of mystery, imagination, and elements of surprise, which emphasize the interconnectedness between human and nature.

He creates a distinctive signature, intricately weaving together organic and symbolic elements to create monumental works which challenge the viewer to see beneath the surface into the archetypal qualities of his subjects.  He seeks to initiate an urgent dialogue on the effects of human thought and behavior on the ever-changing environment.

Torres taps into universal collective memory and stimulates the imagination with playful themes and ironic juxtapositions relevant to the contemporary experience. His series range from portraits of ordinary people, cultural, military, and political icons to a diverse sampling of symbols from popular culture. These images are then reimagined and reconstructed employing his unique multi-layer painting technique. Inspired by the agrarian lifestyle of his friends and family, Torres plants an idea for each new work and harvests it at completion according to the lunar patterns followed by his ancestors in his native Cuba. To record this ritual, each painting is begun and finished on a waning moon and recorded with his signature on the canvas.


Hi Alexi, today you selected for Music On Walls five of your artworks inspired by music.  Can you tell MoW why you chose to create artworks inspired by music? 

The five artworks presented today are from two different series: “Portraits“ and “Spiritual Security.”

“Spiritual Security” is a series of fifteen artworks reflecting policemen, fire fighters and Army soldiers, all in different, peaceful positions, and many of them represented as rock stars or a band’s front man. This is a way of representing security with spiritual actions, using music as an effective way of being secure in an unsecured society. For example, by having a figure playing the M16 - not discarding it - you can project peace and not being vulnerable to whomever wants to harm you. Security is given through the awareness of being in the now, of really feeling the music. I use music as a feeling, a sexy movement of the body, meaningful lyrics. When we do this we are not judging or not fighting against what we disagree. Music keeps us together in an unstable world. I think this series is always going to be relevant. It appears that military conflicts will be part of our life for a very long time, as they have been happening since recorded history.

Timothy Tew said the following about the series: “For many of us, spiritual enlightenment is a noble ideal but something to be pursued after most, if not all, of our physical needs have been met and we have plenty of time to give ourselves to the pursuit peace and wholesale thoughts of our fellow beings.  In other words, physical security must be assured before we engage in positive mental bromides.  However, ‘Spiritual Security’ turns this idea on its head and suggests that these are not bromides but truth, and enforcing the law, defending liberty and protecting property, should begin with enlightenment.”

“Portraits” – “Jerry Garcia” and “Mick Jagger II”: This series of portraits is about the creator more than the creation, about the musician more than the music. I represent the complexity of the artist and the interconnectedness with everything else and everyone else. I primarily paint visual artists and musicians, people that add peace and union to the human experience through their art. With the basket weaving technique, I show the relation of everything that has been done, adding their personal contributions to our collective experience. We are all the result of great minds who came before; every thread is indispensable to create the whole image. I am a great music fan and always find inspiration from and respect for musicians - rock musicians mostly.  

Is there a song that inspired the artworks presented today? 

There is not a specific song that inspired these artworks but instead, music in general as a manifestation of art, as a feeling, is the inspiration.

What is your favorite piece between the ones presented today?

“Spiritual Security – Rocking”

Are there any other specific words you’d like to say about the artworks presented today?

Ephemerality and fragility are two very important qualities in my work.  Life is both of these things; we need to love each moment as sacred, with gratefulness and awareness that nothing lasts forever and every moment is all that there is. The basket weaving made of organic material projects that reality.

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

I think at this point it is impossible to live without music!  It is a perfect way to transmit emotions and connect with your thoughts.

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

Yes, about the feelings that come out of playing and enjoying music.

Can you tell Mow more about your techniques and how long does it takes you to make an artwork?

My technique involves using a signature basket weaving style to create the paintings. Each one takes about 20 layers to intricately weave the image with brushes of various sizes and textures. It takes a few months to complete each artwork. I use this woven effect to further underscore human interconnectedness and the interdependence between man and nature. This method is intended to symbolize not only how much stronger we are when we are connected, but also how vulnerable we become when separated from one another.

In an attempt to be in harmony with the rhythms of nature as I construct each image, every painting is started and completed on a waning moon over a series of months. I am mindful to remain aware of and utilize the many universal laws of nature as part of the process of creating my works. I like to think about how all of us are affected by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun, and other planets in our solar system. Our ancestors intuitively lived by this knowledge, planting their crops in natural cycles to achieve optimum results. As an artist I use a similar process by “planting” an idea and “harvesting” it through the moon’s cycles. There is a specific moment in time when each painting is complete, carrying with it all the energy and intention of being part of the larger universe, beyond what we can see or feel, focusing on the deeper spiritual essence that is our true nature. 

Do you listen to music when you’re working?

Music is always playing at the studio - it is the first thing we do as soon as we enter the studio. Loud music. My wife Julie Torres and daughter Kali Torres are artists as well and we share the same large studio, so we listen to each other’s music preferences all the time.

What is the song you liked the most lately?

Right now I will say “California Stars” by Billy Bragg & Wilco, lyrics by Woody Guthrie. I was just introduced to it.

What was the last gig you went to?

The last gig I went to was Red Hot Chile Peppers.  In a few weeks, I’ll see Metallica and my all time idol, Roger Waters.

Are you a musician yourself?

No, I’m not a musician. I thought of it when I was younger.  Now, I love dancing. 

How would you see yourself as a musician?

If I was a musician, I think I’d like to play the guitar in a band.