Gonzalo “El Gordo” Álvarez, illustrator, painter, and muralist by profession, is an Argentine artist who in 2015 undertook a journey full of adventures, inspiration, and learning from different cultures of the world, leaving a memory of his art at each season.

From a very young age, Alvarez would color the walls of his house as a game—but at the time, he could not realize that this mere child’s play would forge a path inside his mind, a dream universe where he could bring to life anything from his imagination. This passion little by little became his way of living: by sharing these dreamlike universes with the world through surreal images that come to life with each stroke. Following his dream, he came to make murals from Argentina, Peru, and Ecuador, passing through Mexico, Italy, Malta, Turkey, Georgia, and Thailand.

Today he lives the days of his greatest inspiration in his Art Workshop in Cortaderas, province of San Luis, Argentina. At the Casa del Poeta cultural center, in the city of Villa de Merlo at the same province, he presented his latest exhibition called “Onírica Popular,” an exhibition that, through popular festivals, trendy clothing, and local delights, showcases the untold beauty of San Luis’ internal world, a place containing the lofty dreams of the common folk and the noble ambitions of those who pursue social justice. Altogether, it is an elegant representation of the beloved culture and traditions of the Argentinian people.

In Alvarez’s life there were two important moments that marked his artistic career. The first was the encouragement of his parents who supported him from a very young age, nurturing his passion to study the fine arts at a mere 5 years old, and eventually, create oil paintings and launch his first exhibition. Second was the motivation given by his teacher, cartoonist Luis Ordóñez. Alvarez trained under the cartoonist, and participated in his school by giving classes to future artists, in the process sharing his passion and wisdom and inspiring more youth to take to the diverse and all-encompassing world of art.

Muralism was one of the most significant turning points in Alvarez’s career. It was an activity that he discovered when he had to make murals in exchange for lodging and food on his journey from Tilcara to Malta, where he was hired as a resistance artist for the first time. It is through this opportunity that El Gordo made his work official and began to monetize his art.

In his works, Alvarez shows his own life experiences, which accumulates for him in the subconscious and manifests themselves in everyday life. Inspired largely by music and nature, El Gordo creates imaginative artworks in which different characters and settings occupy a dreamlike universe, expressed by a surreal style where dreams are the amalgamation of all the internal and external worlds which he has experienced.

The “Onírica Popular” exhibition highlights the culture of the Andean people, which El Gordo expresses through images of his Latin American roots, the cultural patterns typical of these lands, and the many experiences and livelihoods he himself has lived. The artist also chooses to show the suffering and resistance of people to their land’s legacy of cultural colonialism and subjugation. In the words of El Gordo himself, “It is a vindication of these worlds and of the people who integrate, resist and make popular culture endure.”

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