Hiscox Latino Employee Network interviews up-and-coming Venezuelan Artist
The Hiscox Latino Employee Network (HLEN) recently hosted a live Zoom interview with up-and-coming artist, Leandro Comrie. The event was held to celebrate the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month (October 15th) and to hear the unique story of this Venezuelan painter.
Leandro was born in Brooklyn, NY but grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. In his paintings, Leandro reflects on ideas such as social injustice, cultural identity, love, and desire.
HLEN member Dianne Paliouras led an in-depth interview with him where he shared what influences his paintings, how the pandemic has impacted his art, and what it’s like balancing being an artist and business person. Here are some of the highlights.
Early influences and inspiration
Leandro told us that the support of his family left an early impression on his art. “My parents were key to my decision to become an artist,” Leandro explained. His aunt was also an artist with a studio “where I used to go and see her work. That made it easier for me to have self-confidence when it came to deciding that I wanted to become an artist.”
For Leandro, painting is part of his daily routine and he produces an amazing amount of work. “I can’t go a day without creating. It’s unnatural to me.”
In terms of his current collection, “It’s about my experience in Venezuela and my Venezuelan identity; what it was like to grow up there and how the politics have changed over the years.
“It was based on folktales and children’s songs and my own experiences growing up there.”
Creating art during the lockdown
Leandro’s painting “Te Quiero,” was created during the lockdown. This particular painting is “based on the fact that we could not see anyone. I explored the sensation of being together and being surrounded by people in close proximity.
“It’s a festive painting, celebrating life. But sometimes there are elements that are a bit darker; the masks and the shrouded faces … it’s a metaphor for things that don’t go well in our lives, yet we continue living it and there’s still beauty around.”
Addressing how Latino artist are portrayed in the media
Essential to Hispanic Heritage Month is shining a light on Latino communities and their accomplishments. In terms of the art world, however, there is a lack of attention around Latino artists. According to Leandro, “When I was studying, I was missing Latino-American art history. There was really nothing showcasing Latino artists. It’s a shame because we have a very rich culture and we have an amazing story of art and creativity all throughout Latin America.
“So it’s a shame that, if you go to college, Latino artists and other artists are missing out on this.”
On being an artist and a business person
Few artists are lucky enough to be able to make a living off of their art, but for the ones who are, they face a dilemma: How to balance creativity with the business of selling one’s art.
“You have this artistic side of you that just wants to paint,” Leandro told us. “And then there’s the other side that’s more pragmatic – that needs to promote your work, write proposals, and reach out to galleries. But it’s necessary – it’s part of your career. So you switch from your artist mind to your business mind. My technique is just to sit down and do it.
“There are always tools. I take creative writing, resume writing, how to write an artist statement. So there are always resources.”
For more information about Leandro Comrie and his artwork, visit his website.
Hiscox celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month in a variety of ways this year. Check out our blog How we’re celebrating Hispanic communities beyond Hispanic Heritage Month (Spanish version) to learn more.