JUAN FERNANDO BASTOS
Over the past 30 years, Los Angeles-based portrait artist, Juan F. Bastos, has executed several hundred portrait commissions on three continents. These oil paintings and pastel drawings hang in private homes, corporate offices, government buildings, embassies, libraries, churches, schools, and universities.
Bastos’ work is also represented in several public collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the City of Baltimore, the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, the Inter-American Development Bank (Washington, D.C.), the Marlborough School (Los Angeles), the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging, Good Samaritan Hospital (Los Angeles), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles), the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, Viterbi School of Engineering, Price School of Public Policy, and Gould School of Law, George Washington University, and Harvard University.
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1958, Mr. Bastos and his family returned to Bolivia, their homeland, eleven years later. Surrounded by relatives who were painters, Mr. Bastos grew up in an artistic environment. After studying fine arts and architecture at the University of San Andres in La Paz, he came to the United States where he enrolled at Georgetown University in 1979. He later obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Cum Laude, and a Masters of Painting from Towson State University.
Mr. Bastos has traveled extensively throughout Europe, South America, Central America, and the United States and, as a result, has exhibited widely. He has had one-man shows in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Lima, and La Paz. In addition, he has been included in group shows in New York, Paris, Madrid, Los Angeles, Essex, England, and a biennial in Cairo, Egypt. His works have been widely reviewed by the press. Mr. Bastos is often invited to give lectures and demonstrations at universities, colleges, and art institutions. He has also been featured in numerous television appearances throughout the Americas. Along with several other well-known artists, Mr. Bastos was highlighted in a 1999 New York Times, Sunday Style Section feature article about the reemergence of high-end portraiture. Mr. Bastos has lived in Los Angeles since 1996.
Art collectors who commissioned portraits by Juan include Philip Niarchos, Eugenio Lopez, and Pamela Joyner. Commissioning institutions include the University of Southern California, Good Samaritan Hospital, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, George Washington University, and Harvard University.
“The live pose is amazing. When people pose for me, I engage them in conversation. I enjoy talking to people; I approach them that way, so I can catch something special. Every portrait is a challenge. I have to create the illusion of life on a two dimensional surface. That’s where I get the kick, trying to capture something in the portrait. As a student, I loved doing that, and as my technique improves, so does my ability to capture that kind of life. That’s why I’ve kept obsessing. I’ve had sitters who are very guarded. I have to find a way to get them to open up. Because I tend to have a good deal of time with each sitter and to talk with them, I become something of a confidante; then I have to be discreet. It’s almost like therapy for some people.
When you are doing a portrait, you sort of put yourself in the position of an actor. You have to make a connection. In all of my portraits, there is something about me. So if a woman poses for me, there has to be a common denominator in my essence, my spirit. I grew up surrounded by strong women, my sisters, my mother, my grandmothers. When I do a portrait of a woman, I like to reinforce their strength. When I was a student drawing the figure, our teacher would tell us to first assume the pose ourselves. If the model’s arm was up in the air, we would put our arms up. We could feel the pressure, the stress of the pose–that was necessary in order to paint the picture. When you do a portrait, you put yourself in the sitter’s situation.”