This post is part of our series on Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's Tulsa Art Studio Tour 2014. A self-guided tour, the Tulsa Art Studio Tour showcases the talent of artists who live and work in Tulsa.Today we are featuring Tour artist Jose Pantoja.
An Immigrant from Cuba, Jose Antonio Pantoja Hernandez's work focuses on his experience as a Cuban citizen working in protest of the government. With surrealist compositions and muted colors, his work expresses a need for freedom from oppressive systems. "Freedom is most important in my work," says Pantoja.
|Dictatorship by Jose Pantoja Oil on Canvas, 48x48"|
Born in Cuba in 1971, Pantoja received apprenticeships as a carpenter and woodworker using antiquated tools. As his interests turned to painting and sculpting, he sought visual inspiration from a small collection of art books that showcased mainly works from Goya and Rembrandt.
|Tour Artist Jose Antonio Pantoja Hernandez in his studio|
Pantoja started painting to protest the government. He painted a series to represent the dire situation of the people in Cuba. He chose to paint surrealistically because "speaking out loud would put you in jail in 1994," he says.
As he no longer lives in Cuba, his work moves from surrealism to expressionistic paintings of boats and landscapes. He is excited to share his work and studio space, but wants viewers to remember the reasons he started painting. "It's ironic that Fidel Castro made me create my art," he adds.