Gerardo Castro

Gerardo Castro Paintings

 

Statement

My paintings come from eyes and a heart that have been thoroughly saturated by a life spent searching for a place both ephemeral and eternal...eyes that have been dazzled and enchanted by Power and forces from an ancient place of deep resonant character...by entrancing light, by arresting faces, while addressing the issues of transformation and the blending of the Spirit and the physical world. Change, chance and intuition are at the heart of my creative process.

This “Illuminated Shadows” series has two main sources of inspiration: supernatural forces influenced by Afro-Cuban religions; primarily the Santeria religion and Palo Mayombe usually referred to simply as "Palo”.

Like Santeria, Palo blends African shamanic religion with elements of Spiritism, magic, and Catholicism. Santeria is a set of related religious systems, brought to Cuba during the slave trade, which uses Catholic saints as a mask to hide traditional Yoruba beliefs. Faced with pressure to give up their religion, the slaves merely adapted it to Catholicism as it was practiced in Cuba.  Each of the Yoruba gods was equated to one of the many Catholic saints creating a so-called syncretized religion, meaning that two differing belief systems were brought into harmony with each other. The powers and energies of these earth forces, or deities, known as Orishas provide the inspiration and foundation of my work.

The Shadow plays a major factor, not only in the composition and structure of the painting but also symbolically. In it resides all of the essences, options, and choices of our being, in other words, within the Shadow is contained all of the unused aspects, or potentials, of our personal evolution. In the juxtaposition between the painted male figure and dark beaded Shadow I use ideograms found in Palo religion as inspiration for the counter-field of the painted figure. The embroidered symbols, deposited into the Shadow serve as a catalyst for manifestations: ideograms to call down the spirit to motivate forces into action. These symbols authenticate the presence of an ancestral identity. The symbols are spiritualized drawings that connect the signatures of the entities and forces with symbols that represent a given change in the world that practitioners want the spiritual force to accomplish.

Immersed in reflections of folklore and magic; I believe art must be more than technique it must have a Soul or Spirit that can be sensed by the viewer.


Gerardo Castro received his MFA from Pratt Institute in 1996 and has been exhibiting his work nationally and internationally. He has lectured on the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria and Palo Mayombe. His art is influenced by both belief systems.

His work has been exhibited at Jadite Gallery, NY, Folsom Gallery, San Francisco, Biblioteca Nacional, Havana Cuba, Wilmer Jennings Gallery-Kenkeleba, NY, La Casona Cultural Center, Humacao, P.R. and Taller Boricua, NY. His work is currently part of the “We Are You Project- Traveling Exhibition” utilizing the arts to examine Latino identity, creativity, immigration and current survival issues confronting Ibero-Americans both nationally and internationally in the 21st Century. He is mentioned in the Encyclopedia LATINA: History, Culture, and Society in the United, as one of the top emerging artist in the Latino genre.

Castro draws on the cultural threads of his heritage: Afro-Cuban religions and symbols, spiritual beliefs, Christian iconography and powerful narratives. He is currently working on a new series “Illuminated Shadows’ based on the Spiritual forces, of Afro-Caribbean religious beliefs that embody our shadows.

In Summer- Fall 2013 he will be exhibiting in Oakland CA, Ponce, Puerto Rico and at the United Nations, N.Y. An exhibit of his work is being planned, for 2014, in Havana Cuba.

Castro lives in Newburgh NY and teaches in the Fine Arts Department; New Jersey City University.

His painting, Oshun’s Reflection, was featured in the Summer Blues group exhibition at Theo Ganz Studio (July 14 - September 2, 2012).