Juan Fernando Bastos (Caracas, 1958) is a portrait artist whose transit through Venezuela, Bolivia, Washington, Baltimore and finally Los Angeles has nourished a one of a kind aesthetic in visual representation. His work has reached different latitudes and represents the success of transcultural phenomena. He’s considered one of the most in-demand portrait artists in the world.
- Juan considers some of his most important works the portrait of Gore Vidal – novelist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter and provocateur whose career has spanned six decades. He was the half-brother of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Juan formed a close relationship with Vidal during the writer’s final years living in the Hollywood Hills.
- Bastos also has portrayed such diverse personalities like the Baroness De Lassus in the Chateau de Valmirande (France) – a castle that contains more than 3 of his works, and the President of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and his wife Ximena Iturralde (Bastos’ mother’s cousin).
- Juan worked with Patricia Morison, a 101-year-old actress, who starred on Broadway in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate in 1948, and created her portrait when she was 99.
- Considering his subjects to be timeless, Bastos represents his sitters with the typical Latino American melancholy that overrules any chronological exactness.
- “Being a painter is like playing God in a subtle way; to be a magician, to create the illusion of life on a two-dimensional surface”. Bastos mediates the debate between photographic immediacy and pictorial representation, arguing that he can capture the soul of his subjects in a personal and unique way. “The turning point was when I saw my own portraits when I was a kid. I started drawing my relatives, and even though the results weren’t good, I captured something extra from the beginning.”
- Bastos believes that his aesthetics are nourished by the contrast between Venezuela’s tropical colors and warmth, and Bolivia’s aridity and coldness. “I am Latino American, I’m influenced by indigenous culture and catholic structure; the drama of Bolivia’s colors and the identity of my Venezuelan youth.”
- “I grew up to discover that my roots are not one-sided, my family is bicultural and I became a different kind of young boy. I played the piano; I went to the movies 6 days a week and I was interested in everything that was happening in the world. I read Hesse and Mann when I was in Bolivia, but I only read Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera when I moved to Washington” and that’s how the eclecticism of the Latino American diaspora is made.” Juan shared.
RECENT LOS ANGELES EXHIBITION OF JUAN BASTO’S PAINTINGS
- Juan has done hundreds of portraits over the past 40 years of his artistic career, which has made one of the top portrait artists in the world.