Carlos Dávila Rinaldi is one of 10 artists in our Origins & Ancestries Genesis Drop. He produces artworks that vacillate between abstraction and figuration, with subject matter incorporating popular culture and social commentary on events facing Puerto Rico. Compositions express his politically charged messages through powerful brushstrokes and rich, vibrant colors.
The artist states: “My abstract work stems from earlier figurative paintings…which over the years evolved into visual handwriting creating extremely busy canvases full of color and strong graphic mark… I am a serious believer that the artist is in constant interaction and reaction with his environment. I paint about the experience.”
A native of Puerto Rico, Dávila Rinaldi was born in San Juan. After attending the Art Students League in that same city, he moved to New York and enrolled in the GLCA Artist Apprenticeship Program in 1979, with postmodern artists Robert Stackhouse and Louis Lieberman. In 1980, Dávila Rinaldi graduated from DePauw University in Indiana, earning a Bachelor of Arts. His works have been shown in public and private collections, namely the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, the Ponce Museum, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico. Dávila Rinaldi has participated in international art fairs like SCOPE and PhotoMiami.
Below s an in-depth interview we conducted to share so much more about his work, passions, and processes within the scope of his work!
What is your creative medium and why did you choose it?
I use all mediums… The bulk are paintings done in acrylic. Before my children were born I painted in oil, afterwards to avoid the toxic element and the proximity of children in the studio I switched. After years many people confuse the result with oils.
How did you come to work in this medium? Tell us the story of your artist journey.
As mentioned before the toxic element with my children moved me into acrylic. Years later and with lots of experimentation with mediums Ive found a series of different methods to make acrylic act more like oil. Adding texture and viscosity to the paint helping it maintain the brushstroke dimensionality.
What does your work aim to say? Is there an overarching theme or a story you’re trying to convey?
The work is a projection of myself… my energy, thoughts, concerns, feelings. I want to provoke, inspire, challenge awaken.
Does your work comment on cultural or political issues? If so, how?
Most of the figurative work stems from social and political issues found in Puerto Rico today. The stories tied to each piece are usually kicked of by an actual event and the fallout that comes after. The abstract work my have some inclinations of the frustrations these situations can cause but its not evident nor identifiable in the abstract result.
What drives you to make art in the first place?
Coming from an artistically inclined family was the beginning, but at age 4 my family moved to Japan where my father had been assigned during his career in the Air Force. The whole scene was fertile ground for my interest in art and creativity. The exposure to art at such a young age set off my need to constantly be creating. I have always doodled and drawn since I can remember… it was my way of recording things I was interested in.
How have you developed your art career so far? Do you have any tricks or hacks to share with the wider creative community?
Being an artist is not easy. Half of the artist along the way have simply dropped out. its a career of persistence… never giving up. I was able to make ends meet by using my talents in the world of advertising and marketing while maintaining the art side active. Art Direction, Illustration, Creative Direction and Design were part of my arsenal that helped me build an infrastructure to support my art. From the get go I was set on having somewhat of a double career. Ad work by day painting by night.
Where are you from and how does that impact on your work?
I am from Puerto Rico… born in San Juan, but spent years living abroad during my father’s service with the Air Force. The cultural part of being Puerto Rican is deeply rooted in all of us. I think it comes out even more when you live off the island. My work will always have a mark that ties with the culture… whether it be in title or in the subject matter there are always traits that can be picked up.
Who or what are the biggest influences on your creative practice?
Self-discipline, Judo, and my father.
Where do you find your inspiration?
All lived, all seen, and all felt.
Does art help you in other areas of your life? If so, how?
It gives me peace. True peace.
Which trends in the world or events in your life have influenced your work?
I have always followed trends, evaluating along the way and seeing how they can fit in or can be adopted into my work without losing my essence. As mentioned before my art revolves around my journey through life and how I interpret all that happens around me. All of my work is born there.
Do you think NFTs hold promise for artists who come from the Caribbean region like you or the art world overall?
What I find fascinating is the reach and accessibility it gives the art. I think art from the Caribbean has been overlooked, though recent years have sparked some interest, it remains being an island in general. This is a big opportunity to make some noise.
Have you cultivated a base of supporters and collectors? If yes, can you share your strategy and hold your secrets?
Throughout the years I have accumulated quite a few collectors and supporters. There was a time where their contacts were in black books or rolodexes… today mostly electronic contacts. Social media has helped me target real prospects that usually react to content that tickles their fancy. A lot of sales are starting on social media. Sometimes its all through internet usually lower priced works. A $15,000 painting is usually going to be seen physically.
We are so excited to have Carlos as part of the 10 artists for the Origins & Ancestries Genesis Drop this spring!