Tony Ortega

My artwork reflects the human experience through individual slices of life of the community, family, and other sectors of urban and rural society. The collective is the primary focus in all my work. Individuals in my artwork are faceless because they are important only to the extent that they help define the group-the community interacting and participating in its many rituals, social settings, and group functions.

As an expressionist, I use distortion and exaggeration for emotional effect. I apply vivid and dynamic color, overlapping transparent color with opaque color. I combine flat space with cubical space. My work interweaves the western concepts of perspective, light/shadow, and overlapping of shapes with indigenous folk art design of simplified geometric shape, brilliant pastel colors, and inviting temperature creating a harmonious composition. I merge abstraction, simplification, and realism. I juxtapose and superimpose unlikely images of realism, icons, symbols and fantasy from history and the contemporary world to foster opportunities for the bending of meaning and the warping of time and place.

My artwork of common everyday life incorporates elements of magical realism; it confronts reality and attempts to untangle it, to understand the mystery of life and human events. My work, above all, is an attitude toward reality expressed through popular and cultured forms in elaborate style. Paramount is not the creation of imaginary beings or worlds, but rather the discovery of the mysterious relationship between human beings and their circumstances. I do not try to replicate the surrounding reality. Instead, I seize and illuminate the mystery behind things. I attempt to depict not objective reality, but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in me. Magical realism mashes up, transgresses, reforms and transforms ideas into my magical vision without losing sight of social, political, historical and aesthetic qualities.

Through my work, I offer a multifaceted fiction that incorporates the traditions, history and culture of Latinos. In the postmodern age, my visual language speaks to the issue of international migration, focuses on shifting demographics, draws from pop culture and seeks to present truth at a more local, personal level.