Ignacio Medrano-Carbo

After his expulsion from Miami Beach Senior High School, living as a beach bum through the 60’s, then winning a number of art school scholarships that condemned him to a life of ketchup sandwiches and “chi-chi” soirees, Ignacio Medrano-Carbó embarked upon a career in war-torn Central and South America. His career as a freelance cameraman for CBS News was cut short by Panamanian General Noriega’s henchmen-- as they badly injured him in an assault perpetrated against members of the international press in 1988. During his convalescence, he wrote then starred in his play, The Electric Hummingbird produced in 1990 by Teresa Maria Rojas in Miami for the Fifth International Hispanic Theater Festival and performed at the James L. Knight Center.  Since then he’s done a 145 day tour in the Middle East for NBC News in 2003 covering Israel and the West Bank but has always continued to paint.

He claims his influences as the following:
As a boy in Cuba he remembers his father’s impromptu literary humor, verbal dexterity and the stories he read to him about Native American Indians at bedtime. His mother’s physical beauty, poet’s heart, and worldly mind was to ……………………………….
After getting to the U.S. in 1960 her undying support for his work with the exception of his anti-clerical propensities. Growing up in Miami Beach, the list of influences also include New York Jewish and Italian tourists, the “beach boy” scene of the pool decks in the early to late Sixties, black radio DJ’s of that time,  local street culture and the many blue collar people he met while working the forty or fifty soul crushing odd jobs which he recalls mostly getting fired from before and after art school. Enter: Thelonious Monk, beatniks in general, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, Frank Zappa, Dali, The Last Poets, Cyrano de Bergerac, Man Ray, de Chirico, Daumier, Magritte, the Dadaists, Velazquez, Lenny Bruce, Lord Buckley, Baudelaire, Cecil Taylor, Van Gogh, Fellini, Eisenstein, Vermeer, Turner, Frans Hals, Rabelais, Marcel Duchamp, Keinholz, Manzoni, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Bukowski, Klimt, Munch, Hopper, Kafka, Nietzsche, Ryder, Hesse, Camus, Nabokov, Sergio Carbó, Jim Harrison, Ikkyu…in that order and his nods go on.   Discovering Marcel Duchamp in 1972, along with installation and performance artist mavericks like Manzoni, Keinholz, Joseph Beuys, and Christo, admittedly derailed Ignacio’s painting train.  This influence was evident in his controversial 1972 installation at the Miami Dade College North Campus Student Art Exhibition Port ‘a Tart, whose elements included a naked girl in a box sporting a chain and ball and a ”toy” vibrating atop a snare drum on a stand.  His unfinished project in 1974 of painting a 60’ X 60’ canvas with a Harley Davidson scrambler motorcycle preceded conceptual artist Aaron Young’s, Greeting Card at the Park Avenue Armory by thirty three years.  His comment,”…fly and catch Aaron!”

He received an AA degree from Miami Dade College  studying under Robert Thiele, Salvador La Rosa, Shirley Henderson, Richard Price,  Peter McWhorter from 1970-73.

Ignacio began painting again in 1989 after he experienced a writer’s block while writing his one-act play, The Electric Hummingbird. The act of painting itself he recounts, “purged the barriers.” He continued to produce paintings as well as works in photography. 

His scholarships for art include the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 1973-74.  A scholarship for photography at Rochester Institute of Technology (Eastman Kodak) in 74-75, received a full visual arts scholarship at the University of Miami to finish his BFA in 1977 after returning from a year studying sculpture and film in 1975-1976 at York University, Toronto, Canada.

A news story he shot with his soundman, Steve Lomonoco, while on assignment, this time for NBC in  the Middle-East in 2003, reported by Martin Fletcher, Bureau Chief  of the Tel-Aviv Bureau went on to win a Peabody Award. Since his hip replacement in 2006 , Ignacio has dedicated more and more time to his artwork, which brings us to this exhibition.

 Artist Statement: 

 After seeing pictures of my work a few months ago, a curator from Barcelona (an acquaintance of John Cleese), asked, “Do you paint in acrylics or oil?” I told him that I paint in self-defense. He raised a dismissive eyebrow recalling Dalí´s moustache in reverse and remained quiet, his silence suing for more, so I took him for a swim…
“Yes, self-defense as in to stop myself from being drowned in the general churn…”  But with few exceptions, the act of jumping into a new painting for me is far from being a sanctuary or refuge and more like volunteering for frontline duty in a war—reincarnating again and again in the middle of a battle of my own devise where I’m both general and foot soldier with nowhere to hide.  As the inimitable Ray Bradbury once put it, ”You have to jump off the cliff all the time and build you wings on the way down”.
It is no breakthrough noting that artistically speaking nothing happens in a safe zone except spiritual ossification and aesthetic obesity …. Sometimes I end up vandalizing my own work, thereby attacking the possibility of becoming, in Picasso’s words “[my] own connoisseur”.  That is where the real sinking or swimming starts as I tread between Scylla and Charybdis who entreat mockingly “Jump in, the water’s fine... “  
Representational or abstract?
Although many would argue otherwise, my paintings are quite “representational” and “figurative” except that they may not represent many viewers’ expectations of those terms.  Entropynk, for instance, could easily be the face of God even more so than the white bearded Titan that appears in most ecclesiastical and/or traditionally popular iconography which like the word “God” itself, reduces the irreducible for the sake of communication, but inevitably limits truth in the process. My paintings are no less representative than if you took a section of a Turner thunderstorm or blizzard or sunset and blew it up into a close up—minus Turner’s people, ships or animals which do not appear in my “landscapes” as standard “life-like” anatomical entities. But the paintings do represent --along with celebrating the sheer eros of just paint and texture-- the blood, bone and soul of existential conundrama.  
* Conundrama,after Jim Harrison
(Content contributed by Ignacio Medrano-Carbo 2008)