Lush – An Interview With Anthony Padilla

Anthony Padilla – Rainbow Rock, 2021 – Oil on canvas – 24 x 36 in (61 x 91.4 cm) – Courtesy of the artist and Dinner Gallery

On Thursday, November 11, 2021, artist Anthony Padilla will debut his new solo exhibition, titled “Lush,” at Dinner Gallery in New York City. “Lush” features six new paintings from Padilla and will serve as an extension of his popular Natures series.

The paintings in this new exhibition are designed to mimic the depths of a tropical forest, exploring each layer from top to bottom.

Padilla is known for his highly stylized work, and in this particular set of paintings, he features many different depictions of the plant and wildlife found in the rainforest. This artwork causes viewers to look inward, explore their own relationship with nature, and get curious about what their surrounding environment has to offer.

Anthony Padilla – A Distant Rumble, 2021 – Oil on canvas – 72 x 60 in (182.9 x 152.4 cm) – Courtesy of the artist and Dinner Gallery
Anthony Padilla – Clouds Over a Valley, 2021 – Oil on canvas – 60 x 48 in (152.4 x 121.9 cm) – Courtesy of the artist and Dinner Gallery

In the description of the exhibition published by Dinner Gallery, Padilla’s stunning landscape scenes are described as “meditations” on life’s origins and the unknown. They serve as an escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life and, instead, encourage viewers to embrace calm and stillness.

Anthony Padilla – Orange Hanging Fruit, 2020 – Oil on canvas – 60 x 48 in (152.4 x 121.9 cm) – Courtesy of the artist and Dinner Gallery
Anthony Padilla – Good Morning, 2021 – Oil on canvas – 60 x 48 in (152.4 x 121.9 cm) – Courtesy of the artist and Dinner Gallery

“Lush” may be Anthony Padilla’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, but it is certainly not his first foray into the New York art scene. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is responsible for creating many murals throughout the city (as well as in his native state, Texas).

Padilla also received the 2021 City Artists Corps Grant earlier this year. This $5,000 grant was offered to New York City-based artists who were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and was meant to help them sustain their work and engage the public during this difficult time.

Clearly, Padilla has made good use of the funds he received and will now have a chance to show the world what he’s been working on.

“Lush” will run from November 11, 2021, to January 15, 2022. The opening reception for the exhibition will take place on November 11 from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Those who want to learn more about Padilla and his work before attending the show can do so here.

Interview With the Artist

Anthony Padilla portrait – Courtesy of the artist

With your latest art project, “Lush,” you turn your viewers’ attention to the jungle. What is the message you are trying to get across in this exhibition?

I enjoy painting scenes from nature and especially the jungle because of the diversity and variety it offers. We must all acknowledge that we live in a very special place. As far as we know, our world is one of a kind, we should cherish our privilege to live in such a place, and I hope my paintings can honor our world appropriately.

Have you ever experienced the jungle firsthand?

I recently visited Costa Rica, and it was unbelievable, untethered beauty in every direction. It was an overwhelming experience. I hope to revisit Costa Rica as soon as I can. With my paintings, I’m trying to capture a glimpse of what I can recall from past experiences but what I’m not able to reproduce are the sounds, smells, and feelings from actually being there. I’d like to create a totally immersive show one day.

What are the pros and cons of living in New York City as an artist?

Living in NYC is a challenge all the time, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. The art seen in New York is unmatched from anywhere else I’ve experienced. There always seems to be a gallery opening or show to visit, and the museums all have amazing exhibits or collections. Being able to surround yourself with a strong artistic community and having world-class work available to see in person at any moment is a precious commodity. Also, the number of talented artists here helps to push me to constantly create and challenge myself to never stop evolving my work. The cons in a city like NYC are definitely the prices to live and work here, the living spaces are small, and if you want to find a workspace, you’ll have to be ready to have an open mind. My first studio space was above a garbage truck cleaning station, but luckily my studio mate makes candles, so he kept the place smelling good. I’m not sure if this is a con, but because of the amount of talent in this city, it’s harder to stand out and make a name for yourself, but in my opinion, that’s helpful to carve out your own path.

What parallels can somebody see between the jungle and the urban landscape of New York City?

Orderly chaos is the best way I’d describe it. In New York, there seems to be a rhythm or flow to the city that I’d compare to a jazz album. The city is constantly moving and changing, which is something I really appreciate, it never gets stale, and I feel like I’m experiencing a new place every time I go out. I don’t know much about the jungle, but I see many comparisons from my limited experience. The jungle from afar looks like a constant, unchanging environment, but once you get closer, you see new trees sprouting, old trees dying, you can hear branches falling making way for new life to grow, and the sounds from the wildlife seem to never stop.

You are a Dallas-born artist working in Brooklyn. How did your background influence your art?

Texas isn’t exactly the jungle, but east Texas does have its fair share of forests and greenery. Growing up in east Texas, I was playing in the woods as often as I could. I’m pretty sure I got a rash from poison ivy for ten summers in a row. Living there, being around nature, and exploring the forests and woods left a lasting impression in my mind that will always have an influence on my work.

You have created numerous public art murals around Texas and New York. What is your favorite so far?

I like the most recent works I’ve made at 4DWN in Dallas. It’s a nonprofit skateboard park close to Fair Park. I’ve been able to create a few murals there already and have plans to keep adding on over the next year or so.

Name an artist or everyday person who is your main reference.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Tomás Sánchez.

If you could describe the overall style of your work, what would that description be?

Playful and precise.

How could one describe Anthony Padilla as a person?

Willing to accept a challenge.

Where can we find you when you are not at your painting studio?

I like to explore around the city either on foot, biking, or riding my skateboard. Checking out museums and galleries, as well as people watching at Washington Square Park, are definitely some of my favorite activities during my free time.