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article imageOp-Ed: Paintings with colors that no camera will catch is his hallmark Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Mar 4, 2012 in Entertainment
San Francisco - Versatile artist Xavier Castellanos is thrilled and grateful to be able to have his work showcased once again at the Alliance Francaise to a very appreciative audience. His "Mexican Landscape" series debuted on March 1, 2012.
As the French language and cultural center on Bush Street, Alliance Francaise is not far from San Francisco's civic center, symphony hall, opera house and ballet. It's location makes it convenient in the proximity to the art and cultural life of the City.
One example is the Lower Polk Art Walk, each month galleries open their doors on the first Thursday to encourage the community to take in some of the cultural life of one of the world's most popular cities. Alliance Francaise likes to introduce new exhibits at that time. And so a reception was held that Thursday evening to inaugurate the month-long exhibit of Castellano's work. There were over 30 pieces in all, some as furniture and in fabric but mostly paintings, placed along the walls starting at the lobby.
Dozens of people showed up to meet and greet the artist who graciously served a selection of wines while explaining his work. "I am not interested in doing a realistic style of painting, said Castellanos. "Photography does that, he said, I am interested in representing an 'atmosphere;' a sense of the place, a 'temperature' Castellano said.
All who walked through the exhibit that evening commented or noticed Castellano's use of bold colors. Some, like art critic and friend Danielle Wholl noted that "in Castellano's work we find a broad lexicon of representative and narrative imagery." Wholl also pointed out that Castellano's playful command of vivid colors within bold outlines is reminiscent of Expressionism and Fauvism," she said.
Events Coordinator, Nathalie Schreier, mentioned that Castellano's renditions are filled with cheerful, up-beat feelings and that, "details in his paintings are not without emotions," she said.
Friend and patron Jimmy Luppin said that the vivid color is the energy that Castellanos is trying to capture. "Some people might see such color intensity as 'psychedelic,' he said. Yet, "going to these places one can feel the energy there," said Lippin.
Aldo Picchi is owner of Palanco Gallery in the Hayes Valley area of the City. He has brought the art and culture of Mexico to his Palanco Gallery for over 20 years. While Castellano's current series collection of landscapes is not scheduled to be on display there, Palanco Gallery has featured a few of his works for sale over the years. "Xavier captures the spirit of Mexico in this work," he said. "There is a blending of the traditional folk-style which is very much part of Mexican culture with the use of bright colors," said Picchi. "And, yet there is also a touch of the sophisticated in his work," he said.
"We love his work, said Josephine Foucher, a staff member at Alliance Francaise. "Xavier will always have a home here, whenever he wants to schedule an exhibit," she said. Foucher was pleased that so many from The Lower Polk Art Walk were coming in the door. "We really encourage the artists we feature to try their best to schedule their exhibits with us to coincide with at least one First Thursday," she said as it helps give an artist more exposure to a wider audience.
Executive Director for Alliance Francaise Pascal Ledermann strives to welcome everyone and encourage them to visit. He too is very pleased with Castellanos' work as he said, "Xavier's work is something we look forward to displaying. "Because, it is so colorful and expressive," he said. Ledermann was aslo very pleased with the previous collection shown, back in October entitled "Urban Landscapes", so much so that he had the exhibit extended.
Castellano's has had the privilege of having two exhibits at Alliance Francaise in less than a year. "I am very honored," he said as he and Ledermann posed briefly for a photo for this article. Castellano seems most at home at Alliance Francaise as he conversed in both French and English with each of the visitors. There were times he also spoke Spanish and French simultaneously with a few of the patrons that stopped in. "Conversing in several languages at short-notice is not confusing for me," said Castellanos as he reminded this reporter that he is a world traveler having lived in many places.
"I attended high school in Mexico City," he said. Born in Switzerland Castellanos became accustomed to frequent travel and to the rich cultural mix of a cosmopolitan setting which offers a diversity of languages and expressions. He considers San Francisco his home now and hopes to continue in his artistic endeavors. So far, he has had over a dozen exhibits in San Francisco over the past decade.
And, while he treasures each one of those opportunities he is always looking for more as he considers art his life's work. Castellanos pointed to a set of three denim jackets in the collection. "I had made just one for myself but when people started asking, I began to make more," he said. Some of the designs are based upon what they had in mind. Yet, Castellanos added his own touches, especially with humor. "See the cruise ship, the passage is too small for such a large ship to pass through."
Schreier laughed as she then noticed the detail, "that's right that ship is too large to get through," she said. Schreier then pointed to the "Frida Kahlo" her favorite of the denim jackets, "see the detail on that one," she said. Castellanos included a real ear ring sewn onto the jacket for effect. "That one gets a lot of attention where ever I go," said Castellanos, so many people are fascinated by Frida Kahlo.
He then explained that when people ask him to make them a jacket, "I tell them, now the paint that I use is an acrylic that will only last about five years and it will crack a bit each time you wash it," he said. The work is more ephemeral and so he always explains that to each potential customer right away. "I know there are specialty fabric paint-markers that I can use. But using an acrylic paint has more vibrancy and can withstand a spin in the washing machine, yet it will fade eventually" he said.
Like the painted furniture in which he uses all of the flat surfaces for his work, Castellanos likes to make art for everyday uses. Fabric is one sort of canvas, wood another and so on, "It can be useful that way, not just a painting on the wall," he said.
For more information about "Mexican Landscapes" series and all the art work of Xavier Castellanos visit his web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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