Raised in Los Angeles in a family of immigrants, Julio Reyes says that one of his biggest inspirations is the human ability to overcome adversity. His family’s journey to the US and their tumultuous quest for citizenship has always been a guiding light in his work. “I have always been moved by the human capacity to love, dream, and persevere, with great courage and sincerity, in spite of what can often be, a vast and unsympathetic Nature,” wrote Reyes in an email to Hi-Fructose. Because of the struggles he has personally faced, Reyes says he has cultivated a keen sense of empathy that he seeks to convey in his oil paintings, which often feature solitary figures in moments of contemplation.
Reyes’s paintings look like snapshots from different narratives, though the artist leaves their plots ambiguous. There’s always something happening in his subjects’ facial expressions that prompts a slow, careful viewing of his work. That’s part of Reyes’s goal — to slow down time, make us connect and pay attention. He’s disheartened by our isolation from one another in our increasingly digitized society and he aims to use his work to create that sense of human connection.
“Our old familiar forms of culture and human interaction are now scattered to the wind; crushed in the ever-evolving relentless grind of technology and modern media,” Reyes observed. “We see the world through countless filters, and are increasingly isolated from ourselves and from one another… My content comes from my connection to my subjects — be it through my memories of them, direct observations of them, and/or what they stir in my imagination.”