For Carlos Estrada-Vega the process of cutting, sanding, drilling, magnetizing and coating thousands upon thousands of tiny wooden cubes with a combination of pigment, wax and limestone dust is only an act of preparation: an exercise to aid him in developing the discipline and focus required for his work. The actual act of painting begins as he combines those blocks into a grand composition through a practice of meditation and observation. Though each tiny component is considered a complete painting—a complete experience in and of itself—combined they inform one another, showing a trend of experiences whose diversity deepens and enriches the impact of the whole. Working against the urge to calculate and control the direction of the painting, the artist seeks to channel impulses and instinctual gestures that arise as he works, creating pieces that are as fresh as they are deeply honest.
The exhibition Building a Painting, which features several large-scale works the artist created for his solo exhibition Africa at the Museo Casa Chihuahua in Chihuahua, Mexico, is not merely a new body of work, but the marker of a new era of work for the artist. The shift into making larger paintings with dramatically smaller elements begins an evolution that emphasizes the artist's metaphysical intentions—the attention, the discipline, the engaged meditation—as expressed by the physical effort applied in creating the paintings.
The series presented in Building a Painting is a meditation on the African continent as the cradle of humanity, and the transitions, struggles and metamorphosis it is currently undergoing as it builds and rebuilds itself. The work's graphic, bold colors are at once effusive in their vibrancy and loaded in their significance, eliciting an emotional response without ever being overt. The artist explains that the work is "an ode to the beauty of the land that saw us emerge and molded us for a couple million years before she finished forming us into what we are today. That is why I wanted to celebrate Africa as our Mother.”