Julian Peña is drawn towards Japanese art influences due to growing up in a Japanese home in a suburban town and his personally intimate experiences with anime and manga. His history of being a by-product of American cultural assimilation, ambiguous biracial identity, a member of the LGBTQA+ community, and a 1.5-generation resident feeds his art through visual storytelling. His utopian worlds are his response to the anxiety-inducing Post-Internet world we live in, filled with hyper-colored characters that invites the viewers to engage in escapism and fantasy along with the artist.
The artist demonstrates meticulous processes, with his use of color and prismatic palettes that borders on the obsessive. He has observed the use of contrasting colors and patterns in his Dominican side of his familial heritage, therefore influencing his love of color play. The surfaces of his paintings are riddled with different decorative textures ranging from reflective to iridescent. Gold leaf and mineral pigments, historically used in Japanese art, are some of the materials he uses to achieve rich surfaces. Peña also sands the canvas surface smooth to allow for the precision of sharp and graphic edges in his art, which is attained by screen-printing with graphic design techniques or by hand. He interprets the meaning of his works as the whimsical and bizarre, while other times serious and banal.
Photo taken by Carolyn Hitt @ Blue Cone Studios