Collections through the years by celebrated local pop and multi-media artist, sculptor and urban realist Miguel Paredes.
Culture In A Bag
In his Culture In A Bag series, Miguel Paredes remakes Japanese candy bags and creates a hybrid form of packaging made from a number of different cultural nutrients. Paredes mixes photographs of Kangol caps, various color Adidas sneakers and other recognizable brands with his own painted replicas of Japanese candy bags. The result is an original set of mixed media images that twist the impact of the commercial marketplace into an absurdly realizable result. With each Culture in a Bag painting being more than three feet wide and five feet high, Paredes stretches our imaginations with an oversized line of goods but retains an element of authenticity through his skilled hand. This is lifestyle branding at its sweetest, hippest, and most attitude infused extreme. The Paredes vending machine must be monumental to dispense these bags of style. There is a fortune of cash and commentary to be mined from this idea of selling different colored markers, stencils and tags for urban graffiti artists, hip hop musical disks, cherry flavored Phillie blunts in plastic bags. The push pull influence Pop Western culture and Japanese fashionistas have on each other is a 21st century reality. Although Paredes believes in the edge such competition and linkage offers, it is impossible for him not to make us wonder about the unbridled shock the youth of today confront.
Elements Of An Artist
In the Elements Of An Artist series, Paredes deconstructs his pieces and highlights the elements which are reoccurring themes in his work. The basic elements of an artist include line, shape, form, space, texture, value and color. Artists manipulate these elements, mix them with principles of design and compose a work of art. In Paredes’ world his basic themes and visual elements include detailed florals, colorful graffiti, playful anime and his most important element, his children. In Elements Of An Artist, Paredes takes these elements and makes them the focal point of each piece, allowing them to shine on their own. Throughout this series the use of his digitally hand-drawn, anime bird characters translate to the canvas via rich oil paints. His florals jump from the backgrounds and become their own entity, showcasing their own true basic elements of beauty. The Elements Of An Artist series allows the building blocks of Paredes’ signature style to become the focal point. Elements of art enable us to communicate our thoughts and discoveries using their common language, and in this series Paredes speaks volumes, transmitted by his style and execution.
“LA Stories…. Molly is not a Hipster,” is a combination of interpretations of 1970’s animated characters like Rocky & Bullwinkle, Felix the Cat, Rawhide Kid, Denis the Menace, Superman and more. The collection, which includes sketches, oil on canvas and mixed media, shows the influence that sex, drugs, nightlife, celebrity and under culture has on those living the LA lifestyle.
Los Ninos 2009-2012
With Los Niños Miguel Paredes has taken what he calls “the best he has ever created in his life”, his children, and made them the subjects for his revealing drama about the timeless hopes of all parents and the resolve needed to face the unknown battles of the future. The children in these paintings are larger than life, heroic and provocative. In the context of such sobering realities as contemporary urban life and global conflict these innocents seem as vulnerable as the artist who has shared them with the world. The faces in Los Niños are brushed with an unsettling maturity and a seductive tension. The perilous shadows of transformers charge the familiar with a heightened symbolism. A decaying culture is at work on an entire generation of young people and the rights of passage are uncertain and dangerous. In order to tackle this new world, Paredes arms his children with “jammies”, cap guns, tricycles, graffiti masks, milk cartons and a large slice of “whas-up” attitude. There is a highly sophisticated set of instincts at work in Los Niños and every piece of Paredes’ narrative is pieced together by every detail with nothing left to chance. The entire experience of these paintings is shockingly honest, risky, and flies in the face of three decades of neo pop and post-modern ideas that no image is truer or deeper than the next. Hopeful, energetic and miraculous, the children of Los Niños dream of a better world and the aspirations Paredes has for them are as thrilling as existence itself.
Murals and Public Arts
Miguel Paredes has always found ways to surround his world with art, therefore it was only a matter of time before public works and larger than life installations became another developed form of expression for the artist. Examples of his works include giant light boxes that illuminate the streets at night and detailed multidimensional murals that completely surround the viewer such as Brownstone Lounge. The 14 X 21 foot interior mural installation invites guests to literally become part of the artwork as they are able to stand inside of it or lounge on its the front steps. The work features Paredes’ iconic New York brownstone buildings, including an interpretation of the artist’s childhood home; a Manhattan apartment building located at 144 W. 73rd St. In February 2011. A month later, Paredes donated a mosaic mural entitled “The New Yorker/Senator” to the Miami Design Preservation League’s Art Deco Welcome Center located in the heart of South Beach. The artist became the first Miami-Dade resident to ever receive two simultaneous proclamations from the City of Miami Beach and Village of Pinecrest honoring his support of historic preservation, devotion to the city and positive impact on the community. In an effort to continue his commitment to the community and dedication to charitable public art works, Paredes was joined by Mayor Cindy Lerner to unveil two separate charitable art projects at Pinecrest Elementary in October of 2011: an expansive, permanent 24-foot, tile mosaic and a custom-painted dog sculpture, which is part of the SmARTy Dog for SmART Schools program, commissioned to raise money for electronic “Smart Boards” to be installed in classrooms.
New York Stories 2007 - 2010
Miguel Paredes grew up in the Upper West side of Manhattan’s 73rd Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus, where the tar and concrete urban playgrounds of Central Park, Lincoln Center, the Bronx and the lower east side were home to vibrant hip-hop and break dance revolutions. Although the times were exciting creatively, crime in New York City in the 1980s was also at an all time high. Homelessness became a serious problem as the crack epidemic started to deteriorate communities across the city. Paredes’ ability to recreate his observations and memories through art and to capture the tumultuous mood of this time period is evident in his New York Stories series. A piece entitled “Gray’s Papaya” depicts this Manhattan landmark next to Paredes’ rendition of a historic graffiti wall by renowned Pop artist, Keith Haring. The homeless protagonist is featured in gray, symbolizing death, darkness and isolation from the once vibrant city which is represented in deep, fiery reds. Another poignant figure in Paredes life was a childhood friend who is featured in the larger than life piece, “Ghost Writer.” The in-depth narrative of the piece is symbolically reflected throughout the work. A samurai slays a demon on one side, while Paredes’ signature birds welcome the “Ghost Writer” on his new journey through life. The series vividly reflects scenes from Paredes’ life and times in New York, including the friends and characters whose stories are immortalized by each piece.
With his invention of the Pulgha™ and its concurrent world of Birds, Geishas, and puckish and child-like tricksters, Miguel Paredes has found a viscerally fresh method of crossing over from oil painting to the creation of hand drawn works of art. His admiration of Japanese Anime is apparent, but in his imaginative hands he reappropriates this language with his Latin and urban sense of digital mysticism and narration. Pulga means flea in Spanish, but there is nothing small or irritating here. Instead, the Pulgha™ and Birds are creative emissaries, seeding innovation, luring younger generations of anonymous housebound gamers and online exiles out in to a public world of human interaction and community. In an epoch of technical reproducibility Paredes is a multi-dimensional traveler, leading the charge for a global pop culture renaissance that is as much about preventing the destruction of rain forests as it is an elaborate fiction in itself. Commenting on the multiple expressions of “self” and identity in today’s global landscape, Paredes draws the viewer’s attention to a cacophony of adorable enchantments, skittle colored birds radiating out of red elephants and other ageless, adorable creations that never seem to stop coming. As he builds bridges between our predilection for secret digital fantasies and real world action, Miguel Paredes is humanizing life with a new kind of storytelling.
The Salseros series of paintings by Miguel Paredes, weave memories of both the artist’s childhood and the childhoods of his parent’s generation, as he pays homage to Latin Salsa giants like Celia Cruz, Willy Colon and Sammy Figueroa, to name a few. The artist is both an observer to the timelessness of Salsa and an integral part in its revival. His approach is completely inclusive and both those familiar and conversant with Salsa, as well as the uninitiated, are drawn in. With his fluid and vigorous strokes of paint, Paredes captures the vibrancy, color and the energy of the people, streets, homes, and barrios where this music was/is always present. Paredes is enthralled by the search for subject through the search of time. His explorations are not fixed. they sweep together the entire flavor and understanding the artist has discovered in the span from one end of his lifetime to the other. Salseros is the epitome of this kind of landscape and process. Vine and floral patterns add a dream like quality to the work; while abstractions of color blend and fade so naturally that you feel the music. Paredes makes it all work here: thick, weighty, airy and light. The surface treatment of pigments suspended in fluid, the decorative tropical gardens and even the occasional ghetto grittiness are inspired touches that only a painter of this skill could handle. There are no impediments to Paredes evoking and accentuating the complete Salseros ethos. If this is his romantic vision of Paradise, then one can and must go home again.
Cast in a quality designer fiberglass resin and measuring nearly four feet off the floor, Miguel Paredes released a limited edition set of sculptures based on his Los Niños oil paintings. These sculptures are a passionate celebration of the artist’s ambition to master new mediums, transfer experience from one modality to another, and the visually beautiful influence his children continue to have on his art. The sculpture In the “Name of America,” like the painting of the same name, has Paredes’ son leaning back with Molotov cocktail in hand, ready to engage in an apparent defense of either his territory or the new Nike sneakers on his feet. In “Miss Universe 2020,” Paredes’ daughter, barefoot and in pajamas, sits astride a tricycle two sizes too young for her. She is a beauty queen from the future, when today’s obsession with youth has gone so far that six year olds are the beacons of seduction. The sculptures are finished in either a fully painted, air brushed version or in enamel sprayed all yellow, pink, green or red editions. Paredes makes use of this high-gloss pop ethos to grab our attention and extend the impact of his color as a catalyst for seeing different details, shapes and curves. But Paredes is too smart to be enclosed by the pop desire to create instant meaning and dispense with real narrative. His sculptures are a startling contradiction between their child-like humility and the bright, bold and upbeat exterior of the material. Their inherent opposition of values forces you to search for meaning. Paredes uses the three-dimensional form of his previously painted image to heighten each child’s action and the desire to interact with the performance of this human activity is unsettling.
Miguel Paredes is one of the small groups of painters who have mastered the art of drawing directly onto a digital tablet while successfully exploiting the spontaneity and excitement of this evolving artistic tool. Paredes’ hand-drawn digital paintings keep pace with the elusive, ever-changing present; the speed and immediacy allowing him to imagine more and do more. Technology, as Paredes knows, is not neutral, it affects the art of it’s era and creates new thinking zones, new possibilities. Paredes is a pioneer, auditioning the future for a new generation of visual interpreters. In his Urban Dreams series, the artist explores parallel spectrums of color and tone and modifies the urban landscape, combining photographic realism with the rich graphic elements of floating vines, flowers and leaves. Paredes animates New York’s brownstones by darkening the darkest corners, layering one vanishing point across the other and squeezing streets and alleys into exaggerated vertical tunnels. Over the distorted buildings, Paredes added his colorful signature floral creations and other vibrant elements from nature to balance out the extremes and bring his own form of balance to the piece. He turns the untamed nature of the urban setting in which he works and thinks into a playful pop pastoral which becomes both an authentic source of internal expression and an unique threshold for collective dreaming. The overall result is much more a sweet reverie than it is a nightmare and the nation-less urban blocks of his childhood turn from places of neglect into dreams of unfettered possibility.