JULIO BARBON (b. 1960)

Some artists, like Cienfuegos, Cuba-based painter Julio Barbon, seem to have been born to make art. He remembers being a small boy and wanting to draw and sketch. Later, he attended college and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering, which he used to earn a living, of course, but also applied toward perfecting finer details of his paintings.

Rendered in eye-grabbing colors of vivid yellow, deep cerulean, and a panoply of other vibrant shades, Barbon’s painting practice comprises traditional scenes of Cuba as well as universally appealing portraits and depictions of the natural world. Themes are broad but always emotionally stirring in their beautiful honesty. A trio of drummers, for instance, offers a glimpse into Cuba’s famous music culture, while a resplendently adorned Madonna figure, robe opened to reveal blooming flowers and leaf-covered vines, is a tender tribute to a figure known the world over.

In addition to painting, Barbon is keen on including his local community in Cienfuegos in work he sees as having broader implications. Recently he coupled his artwork with a youth dance performance, blending different forms of expression to highlight the importance of creativity. “My work represents love for nature,” Barbon has said, “and the necessity of protecting fauna and flora.” Barbon’s first painting was done in 2003, and he hasn’t stopped ever since. Luckily for his fans, he has every intention of continuing on the painter’s path, which after all, has always been his true calling.