Gilberto Antonio Tarin
20" x 24"
Gilberto Antonio Tarin
Piece purchased in early 1980’s from Gallery in Dallas, Texas.
Gilberto Tarin says there are three things you need to know about him to understand his work — he studied to be a priest, he is a student of art history and he served in Vietnam.
He’s also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, although he didn’t learn that until many years after Vietnam.
“The events of 9/11 really brought everything back for me,” Tarin said. “Since then, I’ve been focused on dealing with the cost of war. And to me, there are no good sides in a war — both sides are bad and everyone suffers.”
He’s mainly known for his small, colorful, neo-baroque paintings of frolicking cherubs, who appear to be watching over their often-troubled human charges. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Tarin’s paintings sell as fast as he can make them through Richard Conn’s Nueva Street Gallery in La Villita.
But for his first large exhibit since a 1998 exhibit at the San Antonio Art League Museum, Tarin is showing some works he never intends to sell. And he’s departed from his popular painting style to show a series of four larger-than-life dynamic drawings that feature a cherub about the size of a 6-year-old boy perched precariously on the shoulders of a man who seems to be wrestling with his pesky guardian, or maybe it’s his conscience.
“I like doing the drawings even more than doing the paintings,” Tarin said. “It gives me a chance to play and experiment. When I went to art school, I wanted to be a medical illustrator so I have spent a lot of time studying the human body. But I don’t use live models; it all comes out of my head.”
Tarin’s human figures often seem to be trying to untangle themselves from the puppet strings of fate — although their free will doesn’t seem to be much of a blessing. Dream images merge with supernatural figures in his paintings that often appear to be mini-morality plays. References to war are subtle but unsettling, such as an orange strip that represents an approaching medivac helicopter in one of his works that’s not for sale.
Umbrellas appear as symbols of protection, although his figures sometimes wear dunce caps, perhaps a comment on their ignorance of their spiritual lives. While many collectors buy Tarin’s work for its beautiful colors and whimsy, his images are not nearly as carefree as they appear.