José Lara Menéndez (he/they) was born and raised in Tiohtiá:ke/Montreal in a first-generation Guatemalan and Salvadoran household.  Menéndez is a painter but also a multidisciplinary artist – they see their visual language as their main practice and the medium of painting as their ideal tool. They expand their painting in unconventional ways through projecting animations on to their canvases. Through their practice, they have explored how their cultural, trans and queer identities impacted them. They’ve found a visual language that is heavily influenced by their early interests in comics, video games, and DeviantArt. Now that their work merges all these elements, they create surrealist figurative paintings that reflect their thoughts on their identities. Outside of their studies and painting practice, they also do digital illustration work. In 2017, they graduated from Dawson College in Visual Arts. As of now, Menéndez is pursuing their BFA in Drawing and Painting at Concordia University. 

An On-going Body of Work:

Through this semester, I dedicated my focus into pushing my painting practice into a new realm of exploration. I continued experimenting and discovering how I wish to use projections to activate my paintings. I’ve worked on several separate paintings. As I continue to make more paintings, I’ve begun to gain a clearer understanding of what my body of work looks like and what purpose it has. 

Excerpt from my artist statement:

“A sense of urgency looms over my artistic intent. Time as a construct, yet a physical and observable phenomenon, affects my own perception of the self. In my work, my figures defy cis-heteronormative expectations. However, through time going faster and/or slower given the short-term and long-term states of being and capitalist structural expectations affecting our livelihood, a higher power is at play in our well-being. My imaginative and figurative scenes regurgitate these thoughts while focusing on the general sense of mystery.”

As I work out these ideas, I’ve found an interest in incorporating more references of relevant influences as I’m digging deeper how the concept of time affects me and my work. Usually, I create imaginative figurative scenes with exaggerated and accentuated facial expressions. Through these scenes, I explore experiences of fluster, confusion and anxiety. As shown in the work I’ve created this semester, I’ve found a way of activating my paintings just as I envisioned it through my painting Zoom Doom. I’m interested in the ways that adding this layer of moving light brings my paintings to life and how it adds a feeling of eeriness. Each painting presented is unique in their descriptions and statements but overall are bound together through some anxieties. After this class, I wish to continue exploring this method of presenting my paintings and I will activate the paintings presented here that I haven’t been projecting onto yet.

  • Waiting For Nothing, oil on canvas, 12x14, 2021