Feature: a portrait of the young man as an artist.

AuthorGalardi, Susan M.

Tin Ojeda's canvases burst with bold colors and big ideas

Tin Ojeda, an Argentinian-born artist of young age and slight build, is dwarfed by the enormity of his own ideas. Wearing an oversized shirt and paint-stained high tops, the soft-spoken 24 year old stopped pacing and motioning toward his work only long enough to hear the next question, to have the next opportunity to talk about the passion that took him from Buenos Aires to Florida to the East End.

Leaning against a makeshift desk cluttered with brushes, tubes and cans, fingertips slipped self-consciously into his pockets, Ojeda was surrounded by his own execution of those ideas: frame-to-frame paintings, up to nine feet high and in various stages of development, that covered every vertical surface of his Springs studio--including the windows. "I love natural light, but it's light or paint," he said, smiling broadly.

On those canvases were huge, bold images: black praying hands with the word "preys" below; a blue cresting wave hanging ominously over the image of an unknowing chicken; a taxidermy ram's head jutting out from a canvas framed with female nudes from 1950s pornography; and, not surprisingly for this verbally expressive and communicative artist, words. One canvas is dominated by Sanskrit characters that spell "kundalini," another by a Tibetan mantra. "I love words," said Ojeda. "They represent so much."

"Love" was a word used frequently by the artist as he spoke of what drives him to paint. Those passions include the human body, spirituality, iconography, cultures, colors and the works of Michaelangelo ("That's why I paint big," he explained).

Ojeda is never at a loss for inspiration to paint, as evidenced by both the size and number of works-in-progress--easily a half dozen at a time. He tends to work in groupings of two, three or four canvases, moving between them like a plate spinner at the circus, darting from stick to stick. As his output increases, so do the dimensions. Last winter, Ojeda had started working even larger--an 8 x 12 foot canvas that dwarfed his studio had to be taken outside. "I tie it up into a tree," he said. "But I have to have a helper to hang it so I work on it like, sometimes--when it's not too cold."

The only thing, in fact, that slows Ojeda's efforts is his medium of choice. "I do all my painting in oil," he said. "I do a lot of layers, work on a lot of paintings at once. Oil paint dries slower, and that gives me time to think."

A Humble...

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