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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Resurrection Of Alexis Zambrano - From Metals And Stones To Paints And Brushes

Life is a series of resurrections - this is a statement I have heard reiterated by a film director to a friend of mine, it is what I have read endlessly about the career of David Bowie and Madonna and it is witnessed in pretty much every interesting human being I have ever attempted to read about. You are not one thing, so it is unlikely that you would therefore be able to apply yourself to one thing all your life and never evolve from that moment in time/space. The most fascinating people I have met in my journey so far are those that are constantly evolving and changing. That's not to suggest that they are a turn coat or that they are whimsical. No, that's a different kettle of fish altogether. I am referring to those people that continue to explore themselves throughout their lives. 

Recently I noticed that Alexis Zambrano, one half of the team behind M. De Phocas that we wrote about many years ago, had moved on from his menswear accessories and jewellery brand and moved into painting. There is nothing unusual about that, except that I found his paintings to be exceptional for someone who seemed to have a relatively quick metamorphosis. So, I asked him to share more of his sea change with our readers.


Alexis Zambrano, changing artistic disciplines


Alexis, can you tell our readers about your upbringing, your education and how you came to evolve as a creative into painting?

I was raised up in Monterrey Mexico where from an early age I was exposed to collecting as well as creating art by my family primarily. I was never very interested in sports, I played tennis and did track and field, but my main interests have always leaned towards the arts.
While my friends would go to football I would go to painting, piano and sculpting lessons. Funny how life is, I now share my painting studio in NY with Aldo Chaparro, my sculpture teacher from when I was in the 4th grade.

The focus of your jewelry brand in accessories was about elegance and beauty for men which came at a time when so few were in that space. Nowadays it seems over-crowded. Can you tell us how you feel about menswear post the dandy renaissance?

I think it is wonderful men have more and more options every day from which to pick from! The lack of thought-provoking menswear accessories is exactly how M.de Phocas came to be, we were constantly looking for interesting lapel pins or cufflinks and would have a hard time coming across these pieces so we just started creating them.

Can you tell our readers about what are the most magnificent things you have experienced in Mexico and how that influences your art work?

I find my artwork to be a pictorial reference of my interests, so Mexico is definitely present. One of my greatest passions in life has always been collecting; all sorts of things like minerals, art, antiques you name it…

There are superb collections in Monterrey that I was exposed to since a very young age thanks to family and friends. Objects ranging from fossils to ivories, art to antiques constantly provoked and stimulated my senses in my youth. Being surrounded by these objects day to day helped develop not only my desire for collecting a wide array objects but more importantly an ability to spot something special.




When I met you once you were very neat and tidy and everything on you was exactly in its place, including your leather gloves which poked perfectly out of the top pocket of your overcoat. You struck me as a perfectionist, is this something you would agree with and do you take this approach in all aspects of your work?

The act of dressing is something I greatly enjoy, it is another way for myself to communicate to the world the way I feel at the moment. I take the same pleasure in conveying feelings and interests through my art yet I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist.

I like making things work in a timely manner. I am not the type of person who does things over and over until they are perfect because I find it impossible to find perfection, particularly in a work of art. I like undertaking tasks cautiously and performing with quality, but I don’t really fuss or obsess over them.





Can you tell us about some of your contemporary influences in terms of menswear designers and men of style that you think our readers should know more about?

Menswear has developed exponentially in the past 10 years and we are fortunate to be living in a time where men have such a great spectrum of options from which to dress from. A designer who constantly pushes the bar who I admire as an artist is Thom Browne, I find his shows to be art performances, experiences not only meant to commercialize the clothes but to make the spectator feel something.

Style is something very personal and objective, who am I to say if its good or bad. I enjoy seeing men who dress to feel extraordinary not mattering weather that outfit was seen this season on a runway or major magazine. Someone who comes quickly to mind with his unique wardrobe is a dear friend and fashion blogger James Andrew who constantly surprises with unique ensembles.


Thom Browne - Photo Source: NYmag


In your opinion what are the best menswear stores in New York that you would recommend our Australian readers visit when next in Manhattan?

Apart from the large department stores like Bergdorfs and Barneys, I would highly recommend Paul Stewart for their wonderful accessories, Beckenstein’s Bespoke for their impeccably tailored suits, Holland and Sherry Bespoke for their incredible array of curiosities, clothing and accessories as well as The Sock Hop a charming little shop in Soho specializing in socks.




Designing a canvas and setting out how you will move an idea from a sketch book into the physical act of painting must be similar but very different to sketching a cufflink for example. Can you tell our readers how you engage one differently from the other and some of the challenges you have faced moving disciplines?

They are both different processes. In my paintings I usually start out by creating small collages. I get cut outs from auction catalogues, old text books, brochures etc. and create compositions which convey what I am trying to illustrate. I later use these small collages as references in order to start creating my large scaled paintings.

In jewelry I had a business partner, which changed the whole dynamic. Whenever one of us would come up with an idea, that would get bounced back and forth until it would evolve into something we were both exited about. This idea would go on to a sketch pad, afterwards wax models were made to see if it worked in scale and moved on to metals and precious stones form there.

These are two very different processes mainly because there were 2 creative minds compromising in one vision, moving disciplines has definitely been a challenge but not one that I have seen as something difficult. Painting has been a part of my life for such a long time changing to it felt very familiar, like going back to riding a bike after a couple of years of not doing so.




What are the things you most cherish about living in Manhattan?

The pace of life in the city. Living in Manhattan is a very unique experience due to its constant evolution. You can meet someone new everyday, dine at a different restaurant, see new exhibits, anything your heart desires. If it it exists, New York can usually offer it. This constant development helps cultivate many aspects of life that aid me in staying productive.


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