Known as Venezuela’s “painter of protests”, Oscar Olivares (born 1996) was catapulted into the limelight last year when his cartoon-like digital paintings began to be used as emblems and armour by demonstrators opposing the socialist government of Nicolás Maduro. His bold, bright and colourful art presents hopeful depictions of his country, from its mountains to sportsmen to flag to Marian devotions—and it is frequently made the target of abuse. But the confident young visual artist maintains, “I’d rather it be the shields that take a beating than my fellow Venezuelans.”
Oscar began his career in 2011 as a soccer cartoonist but in April 2017, lost one of his best friends during the protests. It was this event that inspired him to dedicate his art to greater purposes. He now paints the Venezuela that people want, and not just the problems that plague it today.
“When we are surrounded by so many things that do not work, we must remember that we can create something different,” says the artist. “In a context like Venezuela, where people live surrounded by darkness, I have sought to go beyond the darkness and show a light that is not in the political leaders but in the conscience, attitude and spirit of everyone, remembering that the human being is much more than the problems around him and that the fundamental root in the development of a country is in its citizens.”
He continues: “I like to use vibrant colours to express all the emotions of the moment. Every brushstroke has light, it is transformed in hope. In all my paintings the sun is an arepa, that is the most typical food of Venezuela, a food that is prepared with our hands and in the same way, I feel that light is also created by our hands.
“Every time I make a painting, it is not just for the present. I want people in the future to see it and know what happened in my country and in the world, but on top of that, I want them to see the potential that exists within the human being. Because to achieve freedom in the world we must first be free on the interior, being able to connect our mind and our heart.”
Oscar’s work has reached collectors in 22 countries and has been exhibited in much of Venezuela and in cities such as Miami, Bogota, Houston, Panama, Denver, Madrid, Pescara, Santo Domingo, Kuala Lumpur and important events such as the ArtExpo New York and Florida Supercon. He has received various awards such as the Ibero-American Award for Online Entrepreneurship 2015, and the Mara de Oro Prize 2017 as Prominent Venezuelan visual artist of international projection. He has lectured around 5 nations, sharing his experiences on the potential that enables human beings to reach their goals in the face of any adversity.
Images used with permission.