Javier Flores will be in the Print Studio at the Denver Art Museum demonstrating multi-layer, reductive woodcut printmaking February 2-3.
As an artist, Flores chooses to associate with the idea of lenguaje vulgar, or vulgar language, a reference to cussing in Spanish. The connection of imagery to language is a symbolic reference to the visual lexicon he continues to expand to explore his disability (he was paralyzed in a shooting at age 19), among other issues. The implication of swearing or cussing to art is a therapeutic tool that allows Flores to express frustration and persevere.
Flores pursues a variety of mediums to best translate the biographical narrative approach to image and form making. His work explores identity, culture, ecology, masculinity (non-toxic), politics, temporality, loss, and, ultimately, triumphs.
Allyson Kotarsky: What will your demo at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?
Javier Flores: My demo will consist of me carving out the final layer or key line for a multi-color reductive woodcut. So if visitors stick around long enough I will be able to show them a final product.
AK: Can you tell us about the repeated symbolism in your work? What inspires the images you use?
JF: In general, the symbolism I use consists of an iconography that is esoteric, but there are enough common signifiers that it becomes a contemporary visual language that viewers can decode. Mixed in occasionally are weapons, not to glorify violence or even condone it but to demonstrate defiance in the face of despair and an unwillingness to surrender. My symbolism is inspired by alchemy, freemasonry, tattoo flash imagery, and indigenous cultural images, to name a few.
AK: You use a variety of printmaking techniques. How do you choose which one to work with when you start a new piece?
JF: The printmaking technique I use is dependent upon the larger narrative, it is important to let the message determine the medium(s). I believe in the accessibility of printmaking; it is a very democratic medium that allows for more opportunities to disperse the message. Or simply it is the look that I want to achieve with that specific image.
AK: You've done quite a bit of work around Denver that focuses on street art. How do your prints translate/connect to your larger-scale street artwork?
JF: Street art or graffiti is a huge influence on my work. As a teenager I was heavily involved in the scene and am still drawn to the bold prismatic colors associated with it, in addition to the multiple outlines used to create contrast between light and dark.
Photos courtesy of Javier Flores. Eternidad, 2017. Reductive woodcut on panel.