Meet the Artist: Ivan Roque

By Heike Dempster

Rocky, Lost In Cinema, 2013
Rocky, Lost In Cinema, 2013

Ivan Jorge Roque, also known as The Lost Artist, is a Cuban-American urban artist hailing from the inner city community of Carol City, Florida. Next week, Ivan Roque’s Lost in Cinema series opens at Nac Gallery up in the FTL. Get to know Ivan Roque in this exclusive interview after the jump…

Also, see: Ivan Roque: Lost In Cinema

Tell us a bit about yourself and your young career as an artist.

My name is Ivan Jorge Roque, also known as The Lost Artist or The Lost One. I am a Cuban American urban artist from Miami, FL but was raised on the northern side of the county in the land known as Carol City. My favorite color is black. I feed off chaos, roses are beautiful and my mind is quite lost. 

When it comes to my career I have to say I’ve been truly blessed with the opportunities that I have been given. It has been a lot of hard work but I really feel like I am on a completely different level mentally, spiritually and artistically than I was last year.

In a matter of a year I’ve been able to gain a public installation by the City of Surfside, I’ve worked alongside some of Miami’s biggest artists, was one of eight artists chosen out over 80 applicants nationwide to be a part of Pop Up Pianos Miami during this past Art Basel Miami Beach, was able to gain my own studio, being invited to do shows outside of Miami and now I am having my own solo show all at the very young age of 21 something that is very rare to see especially in the visual arts field.

You are from Carol City. How has your neighborhood shaped your art?

Carol City has played a big part in my way of thinking and within my work. Growing up in the city you see a lot of things that can easily affect you in many ways. Luckily, although I lived in Carol City, I went to school in Hialeah but seeing my friends that had gone to our home school turn out the way they did was really sad. Most of them had either been locked up, were in gangs, got pregnant at an early age or did and sold drugs so most of their lives were practically over before they even started. I’ve had my own problems when I’ve been jumped, and when I was a kid I even had a gun put to my head. Let me tell you that really does f*** you up.

How does it affect my work? You just have to look at it. My work is dark like the hood, you can see that it comes from a dark place. I listen to a lot of hip-hop which inspires the complex storytelling and ideas that I am trying to convey within my pieces. Carol City plays a huge role in the inspiration to my art and I will represent until I die because I want people to know the greatness and genius that can come from the inner cities and to serve as role model for kids that were like me and show them that they can rise above it, get out of there, and hopefully go back and make it a better place.

Rocky Horror Picture Show
Rocky Horror Picture Show, Lost In Cinema, 2013

Are you inspired by your Cuban heritage?

I am very inspired by my Cuban heritage although I really don’t show it in my work but is rather reflected in my work ethic. My father came here on a raft and built himself from the ground up. His will and determination was like no other and he was a proud Cuban man. He and my mom raised me on arroz y frijoles negros.

My dad always told me that I had to work for everything I wanted so that’s probably why I’ve been able to accomplish what I have in such a short time and it is thanks to my environment and that instilled Cuban drive that rushes through my blood day in and day out.

What do you think about what’s happening in the art scene in Miami and Fort Lauderdale? 

I think the art scene is great. It is coming up very fast, the art is spreading from Wynwood into different parts of the city and country such as Little Haiti, Downtown, Bird Road and other such areas that art really didn’t exist in and if it did it wasn’t thriving like it is today. The only thing is that I feel we need to get more collectors from across the world to come and see all the mad talent that lives here.

Look at artists like Typoe, GG, Ruben Ubiera, Ahol Sniffs Glue and Johnny Robles, these guys are taking it to completely different levels and that’s just a small list of many of the other greats that exist in Miami. This is South Florida where it has always been about beaches and beauty but thankfully I think we can throw in culture and art into the mix as well. After all this is home to one of the biggest Art Fairs in the world.

Gladiator, Lost In Cinema, 2013

How did you link up with NAC?

I was GG’s assistant before anything and he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes and taught me how to truly be an artist. I learned more from him than I did from school so I have to say,  thank you to GG. y I met Vincent Harrison and Karla Livingston, the gallery directors of NAC through GG while working at his studio.

I didn’t start to work with them until approximately eight months later, once I had I had started building my own name,  I approached them and they agreed to allow me to show with them and I have to say they are honestly the best gallery I’ve worked with so far. 

Your solo exhibition “Lost in Cinema” opens next week. Can you tell us more about the show and your initial inspiration?

I’m quite excited for this show. I really do think that I’m taking it up a notch with this one, especially since it is my first show. “Lost In Cinema” features sixteen brand new pieces that will include installations, paintings, and even some mural aspects. I don’t want the experience to be solely visually, I want it to be sensory as well. You will know what I mean when you come to see the exhibit and experience it for yourself.

The initial inspiration is simply the powerful medium that is film. Movies make you feel, they make you cry, they make you mad, they make you happy, they instill fear and most importantly they play a big role influencing today’s society.

Can you elaborate on your characters “Lost” and “Found?”

“Lost” and “Found” are my two halves and I believe everyone else’s as well. I created “Lost” and “Found” back during High School but put them aside until I finally decided on the direction of my career. They are a devil and an angel.

Why? First off let me say that I believe that there is good and evil in all of us and all depends on which side has more control. Morality plays a big role in my work. What is right and what is wrong? “Lost” is the representation of mischief, chaos,  and rebellion while “Found” on the other hand represents innocence, honesty and loyalty.

Let me explain the concept further. When you are lost within something you are so into whatever it is that you become consumed within it, whether it be work or pleasure. To be found is when, finally, people realize what they are trying to do and who they really are. That’s why I have the saying “Forever Lost Finally Found.”

How do you interpret film through your art?

Through collage, the characters and by truly capturing the spirit of each respective film within my work. The collage is like the film itself, the character are the actors and the details are what makes it come to life, they are the special effects.

Scarface, Lost In Cinema, 2013

Which films did you choose and why?

The films I have chosen are Scarface, Rocky, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Natural Born Killers, Back to The Future, King Kong, The Godfather, Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, E.T., Jurassic Park, Nightmare On Elm Street, Gladiator, Cheech and Chong, Friday the 13th and Titanic.

The reason I chose these films is that I want to celebrate cinema and some of its most iconic movies. It was an extremely hard list to come up with. I was changing the movies on the list like crazy and the process nearly gave me a headache but it was still a lot of fun. 

King Kong
King Kong, Lost In Cinema, 2013

We hear you are creating a special on site installation. Can you hint on anything as yet?

Yes I am but the only hint I will give is “VHS and Johnny Depp.” Nothing else. You will have to witness it for yourself.

Do you have any other news or interesting detail you would like to share?

“Lost In Cinema” will not just be any regular art exhibition but truly an experience for all to enjoy. I would also like to add that this event will mark the beginning of a new era in art an era in which the lost ones will finally arise from the shadows as they make their way to be found.

Ivan Roque: Lost in Cinema