Painting Passion: The Art and Persona of Painter Fabian Perez Are Products of an Unusual Environment

Article excerpt

"I never decided to become an artist, it was just a consequence. Talent is something you have and maybe you develop it if you recognize it. I paint because I enjoy it. My career today is the consequence of the events in my life," says artist Fabian Perez.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his mother was an elementary school teacher and his father, "a character of the nightlife." Perez was raised in the city of Campana, 50 miles outside the capital, where from an early age, he felt comfortable and at ease holding a paintbrush, and produced surprisingly mature portraits of family and friends.

Perez's mother, Edua, was artistic and imaginative. An expert in painting with Chinese inks, her talent was greatly appreciated by her son. "She lived her life with courage, passion and decision, without losing her immense tenderness," he says. His father, Antonio, was a man who was "different from the majority," he says. Although he was a strong, larger-than-life character who was well known both to the people and police as a person who operated his businesses after dark on the streets of the city, Perez remembers that his father always treated him with sweetness and tenderness.

"I inherited my ability to draw from my mother," says Perez. "I believe that the imaginative part of my art was inherited from my father. I dreamed of all the things that he promised me, and I lived them as if everything was there for me," he says.

His father's activities meant that young Fabian was exposed to an interesting cast of characters ... from handsome men who lived their lives on the edge, to women, as he himself puts it, "could seduce a man by simply lighting a cigarette." The sensuality and glamour of his art in later years reflected the influences, both good and bad, of his formative years. Perez was exposed to the "the ladies of the night" at his father's nightclubs, and today we see these women portrayed in many of his paintings. He captures a quiet pose, but sensuality and excitement are intimated in his subjects.

At the age of 16 he lost his mother, and at 19, his father followed. The bereft Perez searched for an anchor and stability. His search led him to the pursuit of martial arts, and through this search he met the second great influential figure of his life who became his karate master, Oscar Higa.

After a short time in Rio where he lived an almost nomadic life, Perez moved to Italy to join Higa, who was teaching and living there. He would use this time to perfect his martial arts training. It was in a small town outside Venice, Padova, famous for its hot springs and natural mud baths, that he began his career as an artist. While painting and teaching martial arts, he was unaware that his extensive training would play such a significant role in his artwork and life's path.

After seven years in Italy, Perez realized that it was time to move on. In Okinawa, Japan, he continued his painting and karate training, traveling to Tokyo for a period of time to paint and teach.

"The time I spent in Japan was an amazing period of inner growth," he says, "and I was inspired by the Shodo, a Japanese technique of painting. …