Fernando Allende brings his art home to Aspen
If You Go …
What: Artwork by Fernando Allende
Where: Gallery 1949, Aspen
When: Dec, 26 through Jan. 26
More info: www.gallery1949.com
Visual art found veteran actor and singer Fernando Allende unexpectedly.
Allende, who lived in Woody Creek from 1985 until 2001 and currently stars in the Univision telenovela “Muchacha Italiana Viene a Casarse,” is exhibiting a retrospective of his artwork at Gallery 1949 through Jan. 26.
He’s been in show business his entire adult life, beginning acting and singing at age 17. He was a heartthrob in Mexico and Hollywood, made movies and albums, worked with the likes of Joanne Woodward and Tony Curtis and Quincy Jones in English-language productions and starred in countless Spanish-language films. In the 1980s, he was on “Murder, She Wrote,” “Miami Vice” and “Hart to Hart.” In Aspen, he filmed a Christmas special at the Wheeler Opera House. In Mexico, he worked to preserve traditional Mexican music, serving as an ambassador for mariachi musicians and made 18 albums with them.
“All that was happening, but all of a sudden in Aspen I started to dream in color and brushes and canvases,” Allende, now 63, said.
The recurring dreams of combining colors, shapes and visual ideas were unrelenting.
“I would dream the same thing until it turned into a nightmare,” he said. “So what I realized I wasn’t doing was going to buy the paints and brushes and starting paintings. It was like a celestial message.”
So he converted a room in his Woody Creek home into a painting studio and got to work. Allende was prolific from the beginning, fashioning abstract portraits and color fields — transferring his dreams onto canvas.
He began showing some of the work to friends. Allende said some prominent local collectors — he declined to name them — were his first buyers.
“They said, ‘What do I have to do to live with this? I love this.’ I said, ‘How much do I have to pay you to take my painting?’” he said. “But they were always respectful of my creation.”
Collectors in Europe followed. His first gallery shows in Puerto Rico and Mexico in the early 2000s drew interest from critics and museum curators. By 2012, his work was being selected to show at the vaunted Venice Biennale, where his celebrity status in Mexico and the U.S. held no sway in an anonymous submission.
Allende and his wife and children have visited often since they left the Aspen area to attend to his sick father-in-law in Puerto Rico. But he’s proud to return to show his work in the mountains where he first put paint to canvas.
“I’m very excited to come back where everything started,” he said. “I’ve been going around the world with the exhibition – Asia, Latin America, Europe, Washington, New York, Puerto Rico – and then all of a sudden I’m right back where it all started.”
The Gallery 1949 show tracks his artwork over the years, from the earliest made in the late 1990s to today.
In his artistic practice, Allende paints everyday, meditating before he attacks the canvas. He is always surprised, he said, at what comes out of him.
“Painting to me is about creating language,” he said. “It’s inventing a new language that you hope to be understood by a lot of people. … I never know what’s going to happen.”
Allende still acts and sings, of course. He looks at his work on canvas as an extension of his life’s work as a performer.
“I believe that it all comes from the same divine energy,” he said. “It comes from whatever you consider divine, whatever we come from and wherever we go. And that’s the same energy as when I sing, when I act, when I take something that’s on paper in black and white that I make into a character. I tap that same energy.”
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