Looking at his luscious oil paintings of oysters on the walls of Martha’s Vineyard’s Eisenhauer Gallery, it’s easy to believe that Carlos Lopez once dreamed of becoming a famous chef. This artist wants to capture your attention by appealing to your senses. His paintings are a feast for the eyes with glimmering swirls of color in boldly rendered, in-your-face depictions of oysters—think Georgia O’Keefe and calla lilies. Like O’Keefe, there is a slightly surrealistic feel underlying the stark realism. But still, these paintings—with names like Champagne Dreams and Oyster Burlesque—look good enough to eat.
Beneath the whimsical titles, the pulsing vibrant color, and the flair for the dramatic, there is mastery of design and technique. Lopez, who lives in New Orleans, has been painting since he was a young boy. He was classically trained at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts where he spent five years learning figure drawing and painting, portraiture, still life, landscape painting, design, sculpture, and abstract painting.
“I was painting all kinds of things; portraits, landscapes—anything you can imagine,” says Lopez, noting that he still relies on his classical training when working on the oyster paintings.
“I set up some models of the oysters and I sketch first,” he says, adding that it takes him three days to a week to complete each work. “People always ask me, why do you paint oysters? Once I began, I quickly realized how unique and beautiful each oyster is—like a fingerprint, no two are alike.”
Lopez says that with each painting, he is “able to picture the ocean and the sky.” Perhaps that explains why his work has been flying off the walls of the Eisenhauer Gallery—the paintings are the perfect tasteful touch to any seaside décor. Lopez says he is working on a new series of oyster paintings for the gallery and plans to make a visit to the island soon.
There are moments when this young artist still dreams of becoming a chef. Lopez says he loves to cook, but he is always an artist first. “I love to make people happy when they look at my paintings,” he says. “That’s what art is all about—communicating your passion.”
For more information, visit eisenhauergallery.com.