Inspiration is the genesis of every great creation. This is clear in the work of Lexington-based painter Enrique Gonzalez — whose modern impressionistic style elevates and accentuates Blue Grass subjects like racehorses and bourbon, as well as landscapes both local and exotic — but it’s also an axiom he wants us all to keep in mind.
“I would encourage people to follow what makes them feel creative,” Gonzalez told TOPS. “Connect more to more art and look around and see art everywhere — even when you look down the street, see it creatively. Focus on and pay attention to what makes you happy. Be original, don’t try to copy someone else. Pay attention to what speaks to you and work on it every day.”
Gonzalez knows a thing or two about finding art anywhere and everywhere. He first discovered artistic inspiration in his hometown within Venezuela’s Amazon rainforest, where members of his large family all found ways to express themselves creatively.
“When I was a child, I knew I would paint and do art and music,” Gonzalez recalled. “In my house, I had five brothers and five sisters. Everyone played music and everyone did something artistic. Even my mother sings opera. I figured out that I wanted to be an artist.”
He went on to study art and music in a larger city there, then began painting in Puerto Rico, then came to Miami and then, finally, settled in Lexington. At first, the language barrier and cultural differences in the U.S. were a challenge, Gonzalez explained, but he has found remarkable success in applying his jungle-derived sense of nature, color and light to the subjects that inspire him here.
“When I came here, I focused on exactly what I saw, because it’s much different than in the jungle,” Gonzalez said. “I saw the birds of Kentucky, the horses of Kentucky, the trees... My style is different, I bring the jungle and vibrant colors to the horses and landscapes. I think people like the colors and texture I put together with the Kentucky things.”
Gonzalez’s series of equine paintings, which often capture horses mid-race, are perfect examples of how his unique style meshes with the subjects that inspire him today. The jockey uniforms and horse hoods merge with the impressions of the crowd behind them, the skies and natural surroundings teeming with life and color, the horses appearing to race among themselves at top speed.
But Gonzalez is so moved by his daily inspirations that painting alone is not his only outlet for expression. He’s also the lead singer of the tropical jazz band Big Maracas, which plays in local venues around Lexington. It’s yet another artform that lets him translate his appreciation for nature (and some more materialistic inspirations) into joy for other people.
“When I first came here, I focused on exactly what I saw, because it’s much different than in the jungle...
I bring the jungle and vibrant colors to the horses and landscapes.”
“What inspires me every day is the moon, and the sun and the money,” he said. “I write songs every morning about the sun and its colors and every night about the colors of the moon. Maybe I will do this for the rest of my life.”
As an artist who can’t help but find inspiration no matter where he is, it was probably never a question if Lexington would inspire Gonzalez to create, but how it would do so. On the whole, his paintings, music, and creative life show that it has inspired him to see art everywhere.