Interview Cristian León
Cristian Leon is a painter from Cuenca, and he sure shows it in the way he talks; relaxed and non-pretentious. This is also reflected in his work, it also captures his roots and how proud he feels of them.
From a cultural perspective, Cuenca is one of the richest cities in Latin America. Through its streets we find the elderly and children in uniforms, natives and foreigners that live in this beautiful city. They all walk freely. They walk between colors and textures that you see in the market, in its colonial architecture, in its decorated walls with murals, that instead of being an act of vandalism they are an artistic expression that tells a story.', 'Some of the murals we find in the city belong to Cristian, and now they belong to Cuenca. One of the them shows Cristian’s past as well as the city's past. In his art we see his grandfather working with copper, a material that during colonial times was very important for Cuenca’s economy.
It's a privilege walking around with Cristian. First he takes us to one of his favorite places, the food market. A variety of scents, textures, colors and faces fill the highly visited place. Cristian is not satisfied with just smelling and observing. He has to try different fruits and talk to people to get inspiration for future sketches.
After we go to his studio. Works in progress as well as finished ones decorate the walls as well as the floor. One of the ones hanging is “Los Gallitos de la Calle Larga”, a very special painting to him because it reflects the booming bar scene and night life. Cigarette butts decorate and enrich his work.
Sometimes finishing his work takes more than planned. 'if a painting takes more than my lifetime, I'll have it ready a week later.' This makes a lot of sense and shows how serious he takes his job.
It's not easy living off art. He's been a professional artist since he was 18, when he made his first sale. He's still impressed that people would pay for something so personal, says Cristian with modesty.
He has a BA in Marketing and has worked at an Ad Agency briefly, this experience he describes as meeting the monster and running away.His studies and experience have helped him promote his art. Although he doesn’t mention it, he is a leader of the cultural movement and arts of the city. For him, underground events are of more importance and richer in a cultural level.
When we ask him his opinion regarding Cuenca, he speaks with sincerity. The foreign influence has enriched the art scene. They are his main customers, and that's why we can see Cristian's art in each bar and coffee shop we visit. We see his paintings hanging in some while in others we see letters drawn with his own hands on menus.
Even though he loves his city, he is starting to grow so much artistically that he contemplates the idea of leaving. The next step for Cristian would be to show his work overseas. He talks about France, Madrid, Europe; and dreams of Thailand and traveling around Asia. We can't imagine the experiences that will come out of these places.
The conversation with Cristian continues and starts to elevate. He starts talking about conspiracy theories, traveling, protests, local legends, and..... one edition isn't enough to cover all of it. Joking around we propose to cover a story together taking an expedition to La Cueva de los Tallos. There we could film him doing murals inspired in Father Crespi, an Italian priest, anthropologist, and archeologist, also one of the first to research the area. Even though it might sound crazy, it makes a lot of sense to Cristian.