It is really difficult to encapsulate into words the joy one feels when trying to describe Cuban artist, Alexi Torres’ work and philosophy. Alexi is simply a beautiful human being that has attained such a state of awareness that it gushes through his work. He’s found that every single thing we are, see and aspire to be, is connected. We control our destinies and we create who we want to be by who we already are. His philosophy is both simple and demanding because it forces us to think about time wasted on silly things when the big picture (literally) is right before our eyes. Alexi’s paintings are breathtakingly meticulous and his work schedule is one of a man possessed with pure passion for what he does. You can spend hours just analyzing and trying to decipher one corner of one of his intricate stitch-like brush strokes in one of his paintings, but when you are done with your examination, the conclusion is still the same – ‘everything is connected and don’t overthink think it’. It was a pleasure and an honor to interact with such a sage. Thanks Alexi!
“Everything is woven and knitted together—past/present/future and people/politics/environment/religion and this is best …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I was born in Bermejas, a small town in the Matanzas Province, 1 ½ hours east of Havana, Cuba. My mother died of cancer when I was nine, and so for several years this was a rough time for me. We were also very poor.
What is your earliest art memory?
After my mom died, I must have been 10, and my dad bought a large landscape painting. I remember when I got home from school; I was mesmerized by the beauty of that painting. I remember wanting to have that ability; but, I had always loved doodling, sketching, and drawing – but at that time I wanted to develop my painting skills.
In Cuba, the school systems decide which track a child is interested in and they specialize their middle school years in a particular field (science, art, literature, music…). Lucky for me, a father of one of my friends wanted to prepare his son for the art school tests so he was able to help me. A total of three of us from my small school went on to study at the Matanzas Art School in our province (7th, 8th, 9th grade).
I have two other childhood memories. As young boy, I remember collecting caterpillars in a shoe box and waiting until a butterfly would crawl out, dry its wings and fly! I was fascinated with that miracle of transformation. Every time the rain came, the river would flood and pass through the streets of my town; I would wade from one side of the small village for half a mile to the other side. I enjoyed this. This doesn’t happen in Bermejas these days; they fixed the flooding problem and widened the river.
In the 9th grade, I had to take a huge exam that all art students in Cuba at this stage were required to take. We had to show our body of work. I wanted to go to Havana to study at The National School of Arts – the best in the country. There were only 15 spots available, and I received the second slot. For the first time, at the age of 14, I knew that I could achieve my goals.
How do you describe your form of art and how did you develop your art style?
I have always wanted to express my paintings by depicting objects made up of other objects. (for example paintings of bars and locks made up from small pills 2000-2001). After I emigrated to Atlanta, GA, where I now live since October 2003, my views of the world changed. My knowledge expanded and my concerns were more than just worrying about Cuba and Communism. I began focusing on world circumstances and wanted to show people how we are all interconnected as one on a physical and spiritual level, and with nature. Therefore, I started using the basket-weaving/knitted style to depict this interconnectedness. Everything is woven and knitted together—past/present/future and people/politics/environment/religion and this is best shown by studying my flag series (collage of iconic images embedded and woven into various flags.
I enjoy painting on the moon phase as a way to breathe more life into my work as well a way to pay tribute to my ancestors of the past. I start and finish each painting on the waning moon (more or less a three day period each month). It sounds tedious, but I work on several paintings at a time and I am able to make this timing work well. I typically paint 6 days a week, and 50-65 hours a week.
I think that I am unique in that I am a workaholic. I paint with passion and I also enjoy coming up with new ideas. I am also a business person and don’t mind the business aspect of an art career.
What philosophy do you live by and what is your ultimate aspiration?
It is easy to see my philosophy as it is in all of my paintings. We are all interconnected and are one. The world is intricate, complex, and beautiful. We are in control of our future and can manifest our destiny. For this reason, I am so grateful to be living in the United States. My ultimate aspiration is to continue doing as I am doing – painting in my studio, having freedom, enjoying my family and friends, expressing myself in my art, showing in museums and galleries around the world, and continuing to learn new things and to be amazed at the beauty and wonders in the world.
Which artist/s do you look up to the most?
I admire the artists of Russian Realism because of their amazing technique. I also love Chuck Close because of the complexity and large size of his paintings. I also appreciate Maruizo Cattelan because he is very sharp and edgy in his works. He is a great sculptor. I love all of the Cuban contemporary artists as well.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
Jose Marti would certainly be the man that I would enjoy spending time with. He is a Cuban national hero. He had the leadership, wisdom, and integrity of Lincoln and Washington.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
I love t shirts with positive/spiritual messages. I enjoy comfortable clothes, even if they are formal, they should still be fun to wear and not annoying. I never wear ties, but I love the Beatles boot style. I tend to wear black, gray, or navy with either no designs or simple designs. I don’t wear jewelry. I think that each man must feel good in what he wears and feel as though it represents him. There is not one encompassing specific style for every man and it is great for people to express themselves creatively, even in a formal, dressy, business or evening situation.
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming projects?
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