Miami artist Patricia De Leon Alfonso was awarded Best of Show 2D at last weekend’s 10 Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show at the Miromar Outlet Mall. For the Caracas-born painter, it’s a vision come true.
Visions drive De Leon Alfonso’s art and her life. It all started when she was but eight. She was out riding her bike by herself on an overcast day when a solitary shaft of sunlight pierced the cloud cover, illuminating the distant landscape stretching out in front of her. “At that moment, I felt purely connected to the world, and sitting on my bicycle at the age of eight, I embraced a life in which intuition leads and living symbols abound.”
Fast forward to present day, and that girl has morphed into an artist whose imagery finds its way to her wood panels through visions that pierce her everyday world much like the sun’s slanting rays cut through the cloudy skies some two and a half decades ago.
“My recent work,” Patricia reveals, “is more fleshy and less detailed so that it coincides more closely with the vision and dreamlike sensibility I’m trying to convey.”
If her imagery has an ancient feel, that’s partially because she works in the millennia-old medium of encaustic, in which she mixes pigments and resins into beeswax. “Working methodically on wood panel, I build up hundreds of layers of color and texture using molten wax,” she explained to two fair goers who were pulled into her booth by the arresting paintings and prints hanging on the gallery-style walls. “In between each brush stroke I use heat to bind each layer to the one set down before it.”
The word encaustic comes from the Greek word enkaustikos, which means “to heat” or “to burn.” It is a technique that dates back to 100 B.C. and the portraiture popular at that time in Greco-Roman Egypt.
“Once the wax is cooled, I inscribe the surface with marks, textures, and symbols that unify the strata of the wax,” Patricia told her visitors as she pointed to a painting titled Alchemist, which Hot Works LLC organizer Patty Narozny chose as the poster art for the 10th Bi-Annual Estero Art Show. But that was not the only reason the judges chose De Leon Alfonso as Best in Show 2D. Works like Perception, Presence and Available each possess the Wow Factor that both judges and collectors covet when viewing an artist’s work.
“In my work, the figure is at the center of a magical and symbolic universe,” says Patricia. “The medium of encaustic provides a place for this union of form and content: the wax surface is the skin, the skin bears the marks of a story. It is within this interplay of image, abrasion, luminosity and texture that I create an opportunity to find something, a space for things to fall into place.”
De Leon Alfonso almost bypassed a career as a painter. “When I was an art student at Western Washington [University], the only rooms I never walked into were the painting studios,” Patricia laughs. After graduating with a BFA in Photography and Fiber, she spent more than five years grinding metal and welding. It seems that Patricia has always enjoyed been an intractable attraction to laborious processes and obsessive mark-making. Fortunately for us all, she discovered the discipline of encaustic painting, a medium rife with possibilities for a visionary like her.
While the 10th Bi-Annual Estero Fine Art Show is now in the books, organizer Hot Works, LLC returns to Miromar Outlet Mall in the winter for the 11th Bi-Annual show on the weekend of January 5 and 6, 2013. So mark your calendars. For more information, please visit http://www.hotworks.org/esterofineartshow/ or telephone 941-755-3088.