Surrounded by his energetic paintings of fish, Alexander Carreñ;o is at home. “Fishing is a hobby,” he says. “I love the activity. To be on the water, it is my element. When I paint fish I feel that it is painting my soul.”
Mr. Carreñ;o’s art will be on display in a solo show at the Tashmoo Spring Pumping Station on Friday and Saturday, August 10 and 11.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1962, Mr. Carreñ;o started painting at age six. When he was 16 he won first prize in the Annual Art Contest of the Federación Estudiantil de Ensenaza Media (FEEM). He received a scholarship to study product design and graduated from the Kunsthochschule Burg Giebichenstein in Germany.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Carreñ;o worked as a graphic designer in Berlin. He moved to the Dominican Republic in 1995, and finally to Martha’s Vineyard in 2009. Each stop along the way has influenced his style and development.
Built in 1875, the handsome brick building where he will have his solo exhibit was recently renovated for use as an event space. It was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2008, and is now used for a variety of functions, including art shows.
“I like the place because it is very old and is on the water,” Mr. Carreñ;o says. “My work (there)… is about the journey of my life.”
In many of his paintings, vibrant colors are sharply delineated by palette knife lines. This uncommon technique has become the artist’s trademark.
In one painting, a lobster shell is given the texture of a lobster trap. “You produce problems for yourself, and you have to define a way by yourself to get out of them,” Mr. Carreñ;o says. “You are in your own cage, and it’s not so easy to get out of what you are, especially when you are in a different environment or country.”
This weekend’s show gives Mr. Carreñ;o, who also exhibits at the Artisans Festivals in West Tisbury, a chance to show a larger range of his work. Many of his paintings seem to critique social structure, poking creatively at class and identity. He is hesitant, however, to impose his own interpretations. “I want to bring people to think, to discover the message in the painting,” Mr. Carreñ;o says. “The art speaks for itself. Otherwise, I’d be a writer.”
Alexander Carreñ;o Solo Show, opening reception Friday, Aug. 10, 5 to 8 pm. Also open Saturday, August 11, 11 am to 6 pm. Tashmoo Spring Pumping Station, off State Road, Vineyard Haven. For more information, call Jeanne DelGiudice at 401-575-8435.