Friday, September 30, 2011

Ali Sifuentes

Painting of Kentucky Fried Chicken on U.S. Route 14, Rochester, Minnesota
by artist Ali Sifuentes

Often when I eat at a fast food restaurant, I walk by and glance at the "art" many of them hang on their walls, from the annoying "inspiration" posters, to faded advertisements from the 1990s, all ensconced in those annoying metallic-gold lacquer plastic frames.

But, while stopping by the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Rochester, a picture actually did catch my eye. I thought, "who dreamt up the advertising ploy to paint a KFC restaurant a la Edward Hopper, all full of alarming hues and chiaroscuro? Someone on Madison Avenue knows what they're doing!"

But, on closer inspection, I saw that the painting was an original, and not some high-quality reproduction. I inquired about the artist. It turns out the artist is one Ali Sifuentes, a 20 year-old painter who works the fryers and the drive-thru at this particular restaurant. The painting is a gift he made to the restaurant.

Although my Motorola Z6C cheap camera phone can't do justice to the tonal balance, and the brush and putty-knife strokes, here is a somewhat acceptable photograph of the painting. Ali hails from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, which is a border city across the Rio Grande from Texas.  When I mentioned the painting had a cinematic perspective and Edward Hopper feel, he smiled, and told me that was precisely the effect he was going for. Along with Hopper, he is a follower of Dali.  He has only been painting for two years, so until he was 18, Sifuentes must have had all this latent talent building up. Soft-spoken, and of diminutive stature, Sifuentes seems to be one of those artists who pays a lot of attention to the dull surroundings the rest of us take for granted, transforming them into something magical and arresting.