Arroyave, a second year medical student at Florida International University, has been developing his unique style for many years. Born in Miami in 1989, he grew up in Pinecrest and attended Palmetto Senior High. After high school he attended the University of Central Florida where he received a bachelor’s degree in health sciences.
Although never receiving any formal artistic training, Arroyave has been drawing and painting since early childhood, and has exhibited his paintings throughout Florida. His work has been described as “terrifying, but gorgeous” and depicts subjects ranging from semiabstract landscapes to complex beings full of character, emotion and vigor.
“My background as a medical student has a huge impact on the themes of my artwork, which include the human body, death and isolation,” said Arroyave. “Working in hospitals, I am frequently exposed to the extremes of human existence. It is an interesting challenge to attempt to portray this range of emotions and situations simultaneously on one canvas.”
An Internet blogger recently reviewed Arroyave’s work.
“Remember those times in high school when you’d be so bored in chemistry that you would doodle away in your notebook?” the blogger wrote. “Aaron Arroyave has a tendency to do that, but through painting and on canvas. His highly imaginative, highly saturated pieces contain strange creatures and wild patterns. It’s almost as if he creates another reality to escape from ordinary life.”
Everett Laidlaw, a sales specialist at the Pace Gallery in New York said Arroyave’s work reminds him of some of the great impressionists of the art world.
“A thoughtful handling of every texture combined with a rich, saturated and hot palette make for a vibrant display of artistic performance reminiscent of Matisse and Gauguin, but with an exotic and modern twist,” said Laidlaw. “The subjects of Arroyave’s paintings are wide ranging, with a semi-abstract style and interaction.
The range of textures is tremendous, somehow unnerving the audience to a point of wondrous contemplation of what world these subjects occupy.”
Arroyave, with his unique point of view and rich textural surfaces, draws inspiration from post impressionist painters such as Van Gogh. The textures in his work are actually a result of layering and it ultimately creates an ongoing train of thought, with the most recent work overtaking the former. The use of intense colors with dark imagery also creates a compelling juxtaposition.
“I want to make something that’s fun to look at, and being provocative is incidental,” Arroyave said. “Under all my paintings are about 20 other paintings until I finally have something that keeps me entertained.”
Another element that influences Arroyave’s work is music. His older paintings match the loud and abrasive sound of The Pixies while his more recent work is reminiscent of Ariel Pink’s album Haunted Graffiti. His sketchbook is filled with fun cartoons that quietly pay homage to the White Stripes, with red and white peppermint swirls. His current paintings have become less figural and more fantasy oriented. He portrays a different reality that’s dreamlike in color in a mix of vivid color combinations and trippy repetitive textures.
“My artwork has evolved throughout my life,” Arroyave said. “As a child I never shared my drawings and paintings for fear of being misunderstood. As I progressed, I learned that enchanting scenes helped camouflage underlying charged emotions. I paint with one goal in mind — that each person feel an excitement about experiencing something beautiful and previously inconceivable. I want to fill others with wonder and create something captivating.
My intent is for the viewer to experience conflicting feelings between their conscious and sub-conscious mind. I want to tap into a person’s imagination and exhume all ranges of emotions.
“By using colors, I camouflage ideas that viewers may otherwise find uncomfortable. Sometimes these ideas are obvious to the viewer, and other times they are only silently communicated though tension in color.
So much time is devoted to each individual piece because I find the details to be just as important as the overall painting.”