Roberto Cortez by Ruta Fox
Born in Nicaragua, Roberto Cortez is entirely self-taught as an artist and shares a love of painting with a love of cooking. A chef/owner of the popular Latin American Fusion restaurant Asada in Greenville, South Carolina, Roberto’s creativity in the kitchen and on the canvas is unbounded. BELLA spoke to him about his global flavors, his influences and his bold, colorful artwork.
How do you describe your artwork?
Abstract, bright, moody, dreamy, sensual, meditative. They leave a lot of room for the viewer to interpret their own feelings.
The combination of artistry of being a chef and a painter is interesting, how are they alike?
“I love to create, either on the plate or when doing a painting. The plate is like a canvas. You combine textures, flavors, colors, balance and proportion. There’s always trial and error. With painting, just like in creating a new dish, you confront uncertainty. Both food and art break barriers, transcend limitations, and bring people together.”
What feelings do you hope to get across in your work?
“I want my art to express universal feelings and emotions that can transcend imposed boundaries. Although we come from different backgrounds, cultures and races, I believe that all humans are in essence very similar. We share similar goals, dreams, desires, expectations and emotions.”
How has living in Nicaragua, Mexico and California influenced your color palette and your flavors?
“I’m inspired by the challenge of crafting something that did not exist before. My memories of the ocean in Nicaragua and the tropical colors there, the brightness of Mexico, the cultural diversity of the Mission District in San Francisco, and the amazing green environment of Greenville have all influenced me. The culinary aspects of each place, combined with my wife Gina’s Japanese-Italian heritage, have all played a part in my cuisine and my artwork.”
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