The Goya Series by Dave Ortiz

March 1st, 2016

THE GOYA SERIES - By Dave Ortiz, 2015

In 2015 Dave Ortiz has created a new body of work entirely dedicated to the silkscreen printing process evoked and enabled by his residency at the Gowanus Print Lab in Brooklyn. The process of silk screen printing is by many considered as the artisanal approach to printing requiring manual intervention by the artist in the context of a medium of mass production. This manual intervention is what attracts Ortiz to the medium of silkscreen print - it provides the perfect translation of his artistic challenge to leverage and express his individual and highly personal experience within the context of a mass produced environment. Ortiz adds to each individual print a lot of free hand adjustments, manipulation and sometimes paint.

The Goya Brand evokes memories for nearly every Puerto Rican. Every Hispanic American. What started as a playful exploration of Boricua heritage in the face of white American pop art, has become a very personal project for the artist in the review and analysis of his own life, cultural heritage, and the challenges of family (dys)function.

In this work Ortiz also explores the values of Hispanic heritage and culture as defined by his family, community and by corporate branding via the emotional and sentimental ties formed around family meals and food related memories of his childhood.

“The Goya Series” prints of mundane everyday items are on the most superficial level a cheeky tribute to Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell soup can, but this alone would be one dimensional and not all that original… Other artists have worked around the “can”.

For Ortiz the two main topics of exploration in “The Goya Series” are:

  1. Ortiz’s own history of crossing lines of expectation both within his family standing out as the black bean amongst red beans as the odd kid who was a dreamer, loved to paint and was different than the others, and as Boricua from East New York leaving the ghetto yet always staying the other in his group of friends being called “Chocolate Bar” or “B-Dave”.

  2. And on another level this work series points at the other American realty- the non white one - of a corporate brand framing and becoming an intrinsic part of family memories by feeding and bringing up generations of Hispanic Americans for decades.

The Goya print series is part of a larger project and interactive installation “Bodega Ortiz” The installation features a Bodega on the Lower Eastside of New York - one of the core cultural infrastructures of Boricua life in NYC.

“Bodega Ortiz” is built by the artist and his team, operated by Ortiz’s parents Andres and Providencia Ortiz, and visited by family members - uncles, aunts, nieces, cousins and friends who are stopping by to hang out and chat, play Domino, remember and share their stories of their “Bodega Memories”.

The project is presented for financing and sponsorship.


Growing up in East New York in the 70s and 80s Ortiz was swept up in the graffiti zeitgeist but eventually decided to turn to fine art and painting. He graduated from the Fine Arts School at FIT in New York City. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the US and internationally. Dave Ortiz work is in many private collections.

Influenced by his Hispanic heritage, the classical sculpture and Impressionistic works he viewed growing up in New York City museums, Ortiz found himself developing a visual shorthand that unites the opposed worlds of street art and fine art. His figurative work is equally influenced by Matisse as cartoon imagery–where the attention-grabbing colors and heavy outlining typically associated to graffiti writing is combined with references to Greek antiquity in the missing limbs or broken bodies of his characters. The mix of mediums crosses boundaries as well, with the artist employing traditional acrylic painting alongside spray paint and paint markers often associated with quick tagging in street art. The new addition of printing techniques to his visual means of expression has opened new doors and opportunities.

Ortiz can be described as a colorist and his work classified between figurative and abstract art, with a vibrant and spontaneous energy influenced by his everyday experience that pervades both surface and conscious meaning. Dave Ortiz lives and works in the East Village, NYC.

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