My work is a an adaptation of myself to a chaotic situation which I create,” Cacho Falcon notes, and after a glance at his website (or his beautifully curated Instagram feed), I understand what he means. His pieces radiate a sense of the restless, endlessly curious artist behind them. Take his 2012 painting, a nude self-portrait (complete with provocatively placed “eat me” graffiti). The Campbell’s Soup reference (it’s actually condensed milk here) evokes Warhol, and the freeform doodles and color splashes recall Basquiat – but it all seems so weighted with Falcon’s own sensibility and autobiography that it’s undeniably his own.
Falcon’s paintings explode with color and lines, weaving within them lived tales, as if he were slowly impressing on his canvas a never-ending storytelling thread. Excited about his ever-growing catalogue, I reached out to this Paraguayan artist who’s been mining people’s confessions to create eye-catching work for over a decade—and amassing close to 60,000 Instagram followers in the process. This is what we learned.
Falcon was born in Asunción and now resides in New York City. He began his career as an artist selling what he called “Therapeutic Denim.” Working with his clients, he’d turn their confessions and anecdotes into drawings on their jeans—talk about one of a kind! His work in fashion led him to work with Perry Ellis, Guess, and eventually with Tina Knowles (who helped lead Falcon to design the t-shirt for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign). But soon he found that he wanted to do more with his work. Functioning pretty much like a journal, his colorful, expansive paintings became the refuge for his thoughts and anxieties, too private to share but too rewarding to ignore. Not that he’s left fashion behind: he’s most recently collaborated with J.Lin Swim to design the patterns for two swim shorts for summer 2016. Oh, and if you’re a fan of Girls, you may have caught one of Falcon’s t-shirt designs (the “Obamarama” tee) on Zachary Quinto’s character last season.
Even now, years after Falcon took the plunge to embrace his artistic calling, “documenting the naked truth” as he puts it, you can see in his work someone aching and striving for catharsis. When asked what he hopes to communicate with his art, Falcon balks. “I’m just documenting people’s stories as well as my own.”
Stories, he says, inspire him (as does sex, he adds). “Anything that’s close to a vulnerable place inspires me.” This explains why he’s drawn to the naked body as both canvas and inspiration. “With nudity comes vulnerability. With vulnerability comes truth. That brings the subject to a place where anything can be told and anything can be done. Seeing my subject open up however they want or feel; that’s what fascinates me.”
Frida by Cacho Falcon
It also creates a degree of intimacy that comes through in Falcon’s work, where a doodled-on torso becomes a piece by itself but also the object of photos, videos, and other collage-like works which seem to generate dazzling new connections for the artist, as if his pen (or marker, or brush, or camera) were constantly looking for new ways to refract these visual stories.
“My interest in people comes from being understood through understanding them,” he told me. “We all have a deep disturbed secret that some would never face or talk about.