In the world of local art and culture, it’s always good news when an internationally-renowned mixed media artist opens a gallery.
Hence the smiles in Wynwood with the Fer Sucre Pop Gallery at 2609 N. Miami Ave. This space adds a fresh touch of color to the neighborhood.
Inside 950 square feet are vibrant and multicolored creations made by the Venezuelan neo pop artist, Fernando Sucre. His work is characterized by superheroes, musicians such as the Beatles and Rolling Stones and bar scenes featuring curvy women and sleep-deprived hunks.
What’s most authentic about Sucre’s works of art is that they’re everything except boring. His characters display happiness and overall good vibes and it’s immediately palpable when you enter the gallery. As of late, Sucre has been practicing yoga and that has been reflected in his work as characters from Indian mythology such as Ganesh and Shiva have started to pop up throughout his paintings.
“Perhaps there are people who don’t understand my art because it has a flair for the naughty, for humor and satire … but for me my works are like my children,” Sucre said. “Maybe today they’re not appreciated but in the future they might be.”
Paintings in different formats and sizes — square, rectangular and even round — line the white walls, while his collection of utilitarian art objects such as beach bags, wine bags, cups, huge cushions, aprons and skateboards line the shelves. And although there were no shoes on display during a recent visit, Fer Sucre’s distinctive designs are worn on the feet of many women.
“It’s a place where you can buy an original work of art signed by the artist for $25,” Sucre said in reference to the variety of utilitarian art objects, in addition to other pieces valued at thousands of dollars.
Sucre, who was born in Caracas, is an engineer by profession. He studied in Daytona Beach at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. But upon his return to Venezuela, decided to explore his creative side and enrolled in the National School of Art and Design.
He also studied at the Newmann Institute of Design, the Federico Bandt Institute in Caracas and the School of Visual Arts at the University of Miami. Thanks largely in part to his portrayal of great American pop culture icons such as Andy Warhol, executed with his Latin American interpretation, his work has attracted the attention of the public at large.
However, Sucre was always an artist at heart. When he was a child, he painted characters from television series aimed at children, like Superman, Ultraman and Spider-Man, among others. He says that because he was such a hyperactive child, his parents made him watch TV with a notepad and pencil and gave him the challenge of drawing one of the characters before the show was over.
Sucre likes to paint what’s trending. Perhaps that’s something he’s held on to from the side of his mind that thinks like an engineer. He’s in constant search of novelty but still loves Marvel Comics superheroes.
He also is fascinated by technological gadgets and it’s not uncommon to see iPhones, iPads and similar devices show up in his paintings.
Despite the flirty and fun side of Sucre’s art, he takes his work seriously.
“What’s serious about it to me is that I’m going to leave a legacy when I leave this planet,” he said. “I think I’m giving people a lot of happiness … but also something to talk about.”
Sucre enjoys playing with formats and that’s why he strays from what’s expected. He paints on canvases that are triangular, ovals, column-shaped or “round as if they were round skylights found on a boat and this way I break away from the usual.”
His wife Alexandra Leighton, who helps him and supports him in everything he does, is also his muse. She’s runs the gallery while he dedicates his time to doing what he does best: giving a physical shape to all that creative energy that boils from inside him and overflows onto the canvas with the stroke of a brush.
Sucre’s energy is so rampant that he doesn’t work on only one painting at time. He works on several and simultaneously works on other objects. He explains that it’s because the plastic acrylic paint he uses, requires him to wait before it dries to apply another layer of color. Because of this, painting just one eye, for example, may take up to three days.
Sucre plans to use the gallery space as an educational area and would like to teach painting classes for children this summer. He also paints commissioned portraits,of entire families, or of pets who are spoiled by their owners.
Sucre’s famous characters, superheroes, bar and party scenes have spread throughout the United States’ and Venezuela’s art and culture circles, which is no surprise because these two countries are both considered home by the artist. His works are also present in nonprofit organizations such as the Children’s Museum in Caracas, the Daniela Chappard Foundation and the Foundation of Cystic Fibrosis, just to name a few.
Sucre’s personality keeps him from being idle.
“I’m always thinking of something I want to paint, what’s trending or what’s happening, and of course I never forget my happy bar and party scenes,” he said. “But I like to experiment with different techniques, colors and new painting materials, such as luminescent, iridescent or fluorescent.”