“for the artist, solitude is the only true home.”
Artist Antonio Pelayo, born in Glendale, California and raised most of his childhood in the Mexican countryside, has never had his own country. Moving from an American suburb to a tiny village has kept his world unstable; yet that very instability has made him an artist.
Antonio was born in 1973 in a comfortable, quiet suburb that was definitively American: nearby neighbors, movie theatres, malls, and English all around. At nine, his family sent him back to his father’s village in Mexico, where the environment radically changed: old broken down adobe churches instead of gallerias. Outside plumbing. And Spanish, all around. Teased and ostracized by other kids, and unable to communicate with the adults, Antonio looked elsewhere for, if not companionship, at least solace. He found it with a pencil and in the pews. He sneaked into the Catholic church and stared at the murals of martyrdom. He’d hide in the dark corners and sketch the artwork along the walls.
Antonio sought out the work of other Mexican artists, making them his mentors, his friends. Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Orozco, all revealed to Antonio the depth of Mexican art and its own movement from the church shadows into the modern world. He learned Spanish. He strove to master it, hoping to communicate with the folks of the village. Still, there was a gap; the language barrier between poor farmers and the middle class kept him from meeting people on an intimate level. Nevertheless, he now had three languages: English, Spanish, and his drawings.
Years later his family brought him back to Glendale, which he now saw through the lens of Mexico. It looked unreal; it did not look like home. Nothing looked like home anymore, not Mexico, not southern California. The one home he had was his art. And though his mastery of the pencil and paper began in the shadows of an old church in an old country, he developed his skill even more in America. Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, the surreal work of H.R. Giger, all mixed and blended with his Mexican childhood to make Antonio into a true American artist.
I’ve tried landscapes and fantasy scenes,” he says, “but it’s the portrait that fascinates me. That intimacy between the subject and the artist, the vulnerability that the subject must have to my interpretation—that is trust at its most divine."
Antonio Pelayo moved inward to find an intimacy that we all crave. With his own hand he drew himself into darkness and solitude and discovered his art. Now, ironically, that art goes public, and finds homes in not one or two worlds, but all.