Fetish of form

A painting series and concept by Sergio Lopez

"We Had An Understanding" 5.5x6.5 in. oil on linen mounted on matboard.

A fetish is a fixation to a particular object to an abnormal degree, or refers to an inanimate object worshipped for its magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit.

"If It's Enough" 6x8 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

How can we as oil painters explore our love of oil painting in a way that is interesting or relevant to people who don't necessarily know our art, or care about art that much in general?

This is the central problem I explore in Fetish of Form.

"Looking At" 4x4 inches. Oil on canvas mounted on mat board.

I aim to build a narrative to my work that is understated in direct meaning. An interest is built in work that can't be easily decoded in one viewing. Instead of trying to figure them out, I just let them be what they are.

All the best painters have an awe-inspiration in their work. They also have some quality of mystery in their work not only in the pictures themselves, but how they created that picture. In order for me to keep engaged with my own work, there are parts of the process that need to stay impenetrable. Being comfortable with that is an important part of the process itself.

"Think It Into Oblivion" 32x36 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

The more paintings I look at, the more I'm interested in the ones that leave a lot for the viewer to figure out. In these abstracted figures, I am purposely creating by what seems like a happy accident. But it's not really an accident. It's more like, an indirect method of painting directly.

I used to think that it was of utmost important to have full control of the medium. As I've gotten more and more confident not only in life but with oil paint, the visual mystery that results in letting go of some control becomes more interesting to me.

"Optical Consumption" 12x10 inches. oil on linen mounted on board.

I usually love a painting because of how it's painted, but I will give an extra mental-bias ‘boost’ to a painting where the subject is attractive to me.

"Palpitations" 5x7 inches. Oil on linen mounted on mat board.

What makes people like one painting more than another? Do certain paintings get more likes depending on the subject? Is this a tendency of my own?

"Out Of Situ" 10x12 inches. oil on linen mounted on board.

This art aims to have a dialogue with the internet about these ideas. Although Instagram is not built for this, the picture itself can be the centerpiece of the conversation.

In this body of work, the subject of the paintings critique the main avenue where the paintings are shared. I invite the question by painting imagery that is meant to trigger an emotion of “kawaii” (for lack of an English term) or “cool” at first read, and explore the murky imagery surrounding the straight-forward focal point.

The interplay of complex emotions battling for attention on the same piece is an apt metaphor for what we subject ourselves to willingly everyday via our social media accounts.

Animals on social media are universally loved as individuals, but viewing the accounts is seen as a vapid pastime. In this series I have adopted an “If you can't beat them, join them” mentality, a little bit. Animals in general will probably always get more likes on social media than abstracted figurative paintings, even if they represent naked women. What happens if you literally mash them together in the same painting? What sort of social commentary would that invite? I’m more interested in the negative reaction because that is where the friction lies. Will people see it as gimmicky?

That in itself is a point worth making, because what are we as a society doing on social media besides distracting ourselves with visual treats? Aside from the miniscule minority succeeding at activism on social media, we are attempting to entertain each other, via memes of some sort. So then can internet memes be transformed into high art? This then leads us into questioning the forum your share your art on, and what are you showing it to the public for?

"Inadequate Math" 12x10 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

As complex human beings, we can hold room in our heads to appreciate both pictures of art and cats on social media. What we all tell ourselves as artists is that we don’t let social media dictate the direction that our art takes. I think we're all smart enough to not completely fall into that trap, but the more important that social media becomes when you make art your business, the more you start to think about the impact of commercializing your work online. This series is a way of processing what that may possibly mean to us as artists today. What part of social media is actually valuable to us as independent artists? What happens if you do your best to embrace the parts of it you actually love and express it in your art rather than always bashing the negative parts of it?

"An Acceptable Amount Of Mockery" 10x12 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

I want to tackle the issue of social media in less of a cynical way than is the norm of mainstream thought. I’d like to embrace the part of social media that people can agree is a net positive, which for the most part is imagery of pets.

"Alienated Request" 24x18 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

We should be honest with ourselves about what we find that we're getting out of social media and not feel too much shame around it. We should not feel embarrassed about what we attracted to as artists, or the reasons that drive us to share our art with the world. As long as you can acknowledge it, embrace that part of it.

"Had It Bad" 5x7 inches. Oil on canvas board.

Can you kind of use the power of positivity to bring awareness to art to the general public? The layman is impressed by the skill of rendering, but we as artists learn the ease of doing that versus creating something completely original and putting your ideas into the world. That doesn't always translate to popular. So we may need to Trojan-Horse our way in via artistic low-hanging fruit.

"Missing Likes" 24x18 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

I love to paint kittens. Rather than feel shame around base desires, I’d rather analyze my own predilections and share what it may mean in relation to society. I can look at all the best art in the world all the time. But that doesn't mean I won't look at memes, cat pictures, and anything else that's totally just meant to be entertainment and distraction. My explorations endeavour to bridge the gap between the two seemingly opposed concepts.

I’m masking off certain parts because I want the animals not to completely be a part of the surface that I'm painting on top of. Once the tape comes off, there are visual glitches where the surface I'm painting on asserts itself into the piece I'm painting.

I like that interplay of the background and the subject. It's a great way to integrate the piece into it because everything about it is different than the rest of the picture. The lighting is different. The subject matter is different. I want to feel like it's not actually part of the piece itself, even though it literally is. I want the object to feel conceptually separate from the rest of the painting, so having the tape cut into the piece itself reinforces that.

"Dreamer's Disease" 48x72 inches. Oil on linen mounted on board.

I see the potential for what you accomplish by creating a history in the paint itself.

"Had It Bad" 5x7 inches. Oil on canvas board.

Us as artists, we almost have to invent problems for ourselves. It's that looking for a solution that your artistic voice comes out of. Limitations make you find creative solutions. And I believe the thought behind that creativity is what people respond to in art.

  • L: "Scarlet Hour" 8x5.5 inches. oil on linen mounted on mat board.

  • M: "Careful With The Twinkle" 5x7 inches. Oil on canvas board.

  • R: "Cerebral Boxing" 8x6 inches. OIl on linen mounted on board.