Federico Infante is a Chilean painter that PUNTO SULL’ARTE discovered in New York in 2014.
In 2015 he made his debut in the European contemporary art market thanks to PUNTO SULL’ARTE art gallery. Our Gallery presented his works at the 12th edition of ArtVerona art fair and, the following year, he held his first solo exhibition in Europe “We can see the wind”. The show was acclaimed by art critics, recommended by Sky Art Channel and it marked the beginning of a strong collaboration with PUNTO SULL’ARTE.
Federico Infante was born in Santiago, Chile, and after living for some years in NYC, he currently lives and works in Virginia (USA).
Despite his young age, Infante immediately stood out in the US contemporary art market. He studied at Finis Terrae University in Santiago and later in “the Big Apple”, where he graduated in the spring of 2013 with a MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His studies in the United States were possible not only for the painter’s strong talent, which soon became a recognizable signature in the contemporary art scene, but also for the awards that, over the years, he has won and that have allowed him to continue his studies abroad; he received the Juan Downey grant (2004), the Conicyt scholarship (2009) and the Uanlane Foundation scholarship (2012).
After his first successful solo and group exhibitions in Chile, 2014 marked the official debut for the Chilean painter in the United States, with his first solo show in New York: “The Space Between”, at the prestigious Bertrand Delacroix Art Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.
Infante’s success in the US was rapid: only a year later, in 2015, he was a semi-finalist for the NYFA Basil H. Alkazzi Award for Excellence. It is therefore not surprising that his artworks are now part of private collections all over the world, from the United States, to Europe, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
The roots of Infante’s creativity, which is the base of his works, must be traced back to the painter’s childhood, and to the support he received from his family and especially his mother.
«I remember that when I was a child I spent hours – sometimes the whole day – drawing. I used to look at images of art books, books that taught drawing, with the aim of learning how to create the right perspective and learning the anatomy of the human figure. Drawing was my world. I remember the sense of fun and absolute satisfaction when the result looked better than what I expected, even better than the original. I remember long inner conversations, with myself, on the images and figures that I would one day be able to paint.»
«My mother played a key role in my artistic development when I was a child. She was always very excited when I showed her a finished drawing. She was the one who encouraged me to attend an art school and has always supported me and helped me to find my own path, to evolve in my work.»
Inspired by the Chilean landscape and, now from the everyday life in the United States, Infante creates paintings that depict wonderful and dreamlike universes.
In his paintings we can find echoes of the European romantic tradition, a realist spirit and almost surrealist touches, without forgetting the lesson of the American Action Painting. We often fall in love with an artwork precisely because of its ability to make us “dream”, because it let us be completely carried away by our thoughts. Federico Infante’s work aims above all at this: to make the observer breathe, thanks to a universal language, a dreamy atmosphere where the mind can wander.
“Soliloquy”. Double solo show – curated by Alessandra Redaelli – where Federico Infante’s artworks were exhibited together with the sculptures of the Swedish artist Johannes Nielsen at PUNTO SULL’ARTE, in 2018.
A word that is not just a title: it’s a manifesto.
How could you describe better Infante’s painting and, at the end, the task of the viewer?
For each of his works, he relies on a personal process of creative intuition, a method, which he describes as follows:
«I start with an expressionist gesture, the one of covering the canvas with different coats of painting, and then scratching them away. And I repeat this procedure several times. I’m not used to plan images in advance. What I try to do is to be as vigilant and detached as possible with respect to the result: only in this way I am able to express that part of me that is not dependent on logical processes».
The beginning of the rational process is when the artists paint one coat of color after another: he digs into painting to decode what his subconscious has expressed in order to make it tangible, scratching away the color by following his instinct, digging up pictorial matter as you dig marble, to get out what is hidden below.
And as soon as points of reference appear from the color, like known shadows and hinted silhouettes, there Infante focus them, letting appear the protagonists of the work, be they a woman, a flower, ancient sheep, a bird, or the wind itself.
The artist removes one coat after another, just in the same way as when we try to focus on a dream that we have just made. «Then I paint the figurative elements of this atmosphere. Often a person standing alone, or an architecture coming out from darkness or an open sky that implies the presence of an invisible figure. In this way each painting shows me its unique identity.»
He himself lives and gives back the paradox of being emptied and filled at the same time and «despite the fact that it is a deeply individual dynamic, the tension and ambiguity of the circumstances that often arise mean that this experience can be in some way shared with those who will look at the painting.»
“I don’t want my painting to be a personal story: what I want is to tell universal emotions”
Federico Infante’s works invite the viewer to self-introspection, in search of his inner and spiritual self, which the superficiality and frenzy of everyday life often dull and overwrite.
If in Infante’s artworks we can find the reassuring spirit of traditional figurative painting (the romantic lesson of Friedrich’s “Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” can’t help to come to mind) it is nevertheless precisely in the dreamlike spaces of the canvas that the new and contemporary touch of the Chilean painter can be found, spaces that he realizes by abandoning himself to instinct. The dichotomy between the uncertainty of the settings and the precise definition of the protagonist is one of the core charms in Infante’s painting, so vague but at the same time full of contemporary emotional tension.
Federico Infante’s characters seem to be looking for someone or something they have lost in the fog and clouds. The viewer does not know who or what they are looking for, since he first has to find in the canvas what he has lost.
His subjects therefore, although being isolated in the dreamlike space and time of the canvas, are not “alone”, lost, but if anything immersed, part of a physical and metaphysical landscape where they are not wanderers but protagonists.
The world and nature that surround the subject, in Infante’s artworks, come alive and move with it and do not remain just in the background. These backgrounds are full of possible meanings and matter, peeled with patient art by the painter and ready to welcome the free associations that are created by the viewer’s gaze.
«I try to avoid self-portraits as well as portray young men otherwise people would immediately think it’s me, although obviously every painting is a small part of me. Every image I paint, both male and female, is meant to evoke great energy. I know that in each of them there is also a piece of Federico Infante, but I am also sure that paintings will exist alone without me, without my existence, and when I am no longer be here they will become pieces of my soul that contains a universal message.»
The characters that populate Federico Infante’s works seem to be mirages among dusty clouds. They have elusive faces and looks that never cross the observer’s eyes: the more we try to grasp their profiles with our eyes, the more they escape. Are they reserved people, are they shy? Are they spirits? Do they want to tell us that, before we can meet them, we need to get to know ourselves?
The core of Federico Infante’s art is also this, to make us imagine possible destinations and always push us to travel.
Infante’s artistic research certainly does not limit at a pictorial method strengthen by exercise. Although he has refined and made unique his creative process, the Chilean artist does not stop researching new means of expression or tools to explore his inexhaustible inner creativity. He has not made only paintings.
In 2015, Federico Infante was selected by “The Folio Society publishing house” for the first illustrated edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. The result was the book Lo. Lee. Ta, with eight original artworks by the Chilean artist, who took up the challenge with enthusiasm: «I hope that the images will be able to evoke the atmosphere I perceived while reading the novel, and some of the sensitivity and introspection Nabokov gives to his characters.»
«In my job I use my creative process to find stories that are hidden and waiting to get out of my imagination. For this project I therefore needed to find a different origin and use the story of Lolita as a source of introspection, to find the images.»
Lo. Lee. Ta, project made in partnership with The Folio Society publishing house
Last fall, in partnership with the Lamb Center For Arts & Healing, Infante took part in the Hopewell Billboard Project: seven artists emotionally or materially linked to the city of Hopewell were invited to present their own interpretation of the community, in a fascinating exhibition of widespread public art.
Infante created the artwork “Hope”, an acrylic on canvas then re-proposed in the main format of the project, the billboard: a commercial medium transformed into a flywheel of contemporary art for everyone.
The artist does not limit to acrylic colors and canvases: he does not hide his willingness to experiment also in the field of digital painting and videomaking, always looking not only for personal means of expression but, above all, for a constant and mutual dialogue with his audience.
«It might seem like I have an idea of what I want, but 90% of the time I just try different textures and colors until something catches my eye. Sometimes having the freedom to make mistakes can help you find the answers you’re looking for.»
Infante makes art with the eye of the mind. His works are both deeply personal and widely accessible thanks to their nature characterized by deep humanity. This dichotomy does not translate into closed works but into an art open to possibilities. Every «exercise» is the beginning of something.