Paco Macías Velasco Is Reinventing How We Visualize Digital Art
Article written by Isaiah Lawrence on February 25, 2022
Contemporary artist, Paco Macías Velasco, born on October 4, 1951 in Mexico City, has a long and distinguished career. Paco is renown in Mexico as a commercial and fine arts photographer, focusing on the specialties: portrait, landscape, tourism, fashion, automotive, industrial, architectural and art photography, and food and beverage. What you will notice from eyeing his work is his collage of images, manipulated with various digital softwares, such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, and more. He makes his computer his own studio, using digital elements like digital photography, manipulation, and printing in injectable ink on various materials.
Paco graduated from the Mexican Institute of Photography (IMF, 1970). A year later, he attended the London Institute of Photography. In 1971-1972, he became an independent photographer in a studio called “Fotochrome” with Pablo Gómez Gallardo Latapí Augustin Palacios Ochoa (other IMF graduates). Then from 1972-1973, Paco lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, working as an editorial photographer. He worked on a variety of magazines like Claudia and Fotomundo (1973-1974) and Vogue Mexico (1982-1984), as well as books and Beauty Shots Night shots (1996). That was the same year he received a diploma in advertising at Anahuac University.
Reaching another accolade, his signature photography was published in the book, Great Photographers of Mexico, edited by Kodak (1998). More so, he received a diploma in Corporate Communications and Design of Political Campaign (2015).
Having nothing to prove, Paco’s work has been featured in various books and publications and has plenty of domestic and international awards. Plenty of people jumping at the opportunity make a career out of being a photographer and digital artist do not achieve their long-term goals. Such ambitions may give aspiring artists the impertinent thought about “How they will be successful in the competitive art industry,” but after meticulously looking at Paco’s work, you will notice the merits.
“Banana” (fig. 1) is a tribute to Andy Warhol, who designed the original piece in 1967, where it graced the sleeve of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s debut record. Banana is deserving of multiple perspectives. It is not the most vivid hue of yellow, but you can stare at the color so long out of amusement, you might as well have pinguecula.
The banana in the foreground is perceived to be a boat, embarking on a journey while what appears like minimized clouds surrounding it, is actually still images of bananas. Unlike the foreground, in the background, there are what appears to be lively fish, but if you were to use a magnifying glass, you will notice that, it is the genius illusion of a fish, with the same fruit.
After zooming in for a closeup, there are multiple formations of what appears to be the Statue of Liberty. Looking deeper, inside of the formation, there are multiple still images of Andy Warhol munching on a banana.
The words, “Pantone Yellow C,” which is a hexadecimal color, is numerously repeated like fine print, along with a registered trademark symbol “®.” In other locations, there is the single word, “Pantone.” Also, there are areas surrounding the bananas, which appears like a Google Maps.
Fig. 1 - “Banana”, Tribute to Andy Warhol, Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, from the Paraphrase Series, 100 x 90 cm (39 x 35 inches), 2019 (© all rights reserved)
The digital piece in the work “Burning Heart” (fig. 2) is displayed having a 3/4 angle, appearing like a red, raw pepper with a stem. Seeing that the heart has a stem, it may not be a coincidence that it can easily be mistaken for a red pepper. The title is called “Burning Heart” and peppers can be excessively hot for others. To question if the piece represents an artificial heart or an artificial pepper would be an ongoing debate.
Inside the heart, there are highlighted swirling effects, like the waves of a body of water, gusts of wind, and blood flow through the heart. On the right side of the heart, as well as near the edge of the stem, there are visible pixels, reminding you that it is a digital piece. There is even a pixel near the upper section of the heart, but on the left side, showcasing a minimized pepper.
Pay closer attention to this piece and you will notice minimized peppers are hidden in the pixels, where some look like Habanero and serrano peppers. It is as if the heart is so hot, it produced a parade of hearts, capable of being a spicy pepper. Looking at the top, I notice shrivelling on the main heart, representing aging.
Fig. 2 - “Burning Heart”, digital mixed, printed in dibond (aluminum and other metals, 100 X 80 cm (39 X 31 inches), 2019 (© all rights reserved)
Pulsating colors are showcased in “Fingerprints. Triptych A—Forced Missing In The Night” (fig. 3), seemingly having all of the colors of the rainbow, except brown. So if the title is called “Fingerprints. Triptych. A—Forced Missing In The Night,” it is complicated not to wonder what happened to the color brown, after no longer being mesmerized by the usage of multicolors.
There are black and grey and alien-like colors in this piece, but brown is missing. From my perspective, because brown is a recognizable part of melanin and it is missing from this piece, this means that shade of people did not want to give up their DNA or were kidnapped. Maybe the saturated work of art represents that the group of people are unfairly mistreated in the world, while other colors have special privileges.
As if the artist dabbed his fingers onto paper, there is the euphoric visual of DNA, with more than three layers of finger dabs in some sections and each layer can be a different color or seemingly seep through top layers. The combination of colors may make the viewers want to compare their own skin cells on their fingers with the digital work. After seeing the white spiral effects on some of the fingers, the piece looks more amusing.
Fig. 3 - “Fingerprints. Triptych. A—Forced Missing In The Night”, from the series The Spiral, 100 x 100 cm (39 x 39 inches), 2021 (© all rights reserved)
“Fingerprints. Triptych. B—The ball that moves everything” (fig. 4) has 8 large circles in the center, which reminds me of a Magic 8-ball. On the right side, what has the illusion of a flower pot, is really a fingerprint, at a close-up image. There are 8 primary planets in our Solar System: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Each of these planets are experiencing movement around the ball, likely indicating that the billions of galaxies are consistently repeating a cycle, and that the universe is bigger than we realize.
Ultimately, it is anybody’s guess that the small, green circle is actually a 9th planet. Another thought is, “Where are the stars if the piece is shown from outer space?” Is the area so dark, the luminous stars refuses to shine through? I am certain other viewers can come up with endless theories about this piece. For each planet, there could be foreign life on them, because the close-up image clearly shows the texture of fingerprints.
Fig. 4 - “Fingerprints. Triptych. B—The ball that moves everything”, from the series The Spiral, 100 x 100 cm (39 x 39 inches), 2021 (© all rights reserved)
Sure. The title of this work of art is called “Fingerprints. Triptych. C.—Bullfight with bullfighter, Bull and rings” (fig. 5) where the art piece looks like a wild bull and also a manipulated, horror punk CRT (cathode ray tube). “Fingerprints. Triptych. C.—Bullfight with bullfighter, Bull and rings” can convince you that it belongs in a nostalgic episode of Nickelodeon’s animated television series, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters.
If this piece is also a tv, notice that it has fingerprint textures covering it. That could indicate that either the owner was busy channel surfing or the tv is alive. It makes more sense that the bull is alive because a bull is actually a mammal.
I have heard of the movie Monster House (2006), heard of the movie Christine (1983), but a television that is alive, is unusual. The bull horns can be viewed as antennas. Above the bull on the left side shows a bull rope or tv adapter, the middle shows a bullseye symbol or a magnifying glass, and the right shows either a depiction of a planet or an analogue clock. The overall shape of the bull pops out, revealing the rage and the circles above shows the circular motions the riders will go in.
With all of the symbolisms involved on the defensive bull, the herbivorous animal is widely recognizable and travels around the world. Maybe the bull being a television represents that it is actually a mechanical bull from the future.
Fig. 5 - “Fingerprints. Triptych. C.—Bullfight with bullfighter, Bull and rings”, from the series The Spiral, 100 x 100 cm (39 x 39 inches), 2021 (© all rights reserved)
Once again, Paco designed a remarkable piece. A gigantic rose with an aesthetic megacity as an illusion for the outer layer, is what I notice in the piece, “Quantum Rose. Triptych. A—The pregnant mother rose” (fig. 6). On the outer layers of the rose petals, it appears like a multitude of geometrical Lego blocks and since the area is an eye-catching red, it is probably a warning or a must-see area. Beyond the redness, near the corners, the continuation of the city is white, which can represent peace.
What I do not notice in “Quantum Rose. Triptych. A” are outdoor-friendly inhabitants, but if the rose is pregnant, maybe the title is referring to the multitude of buildings. Maybe there are inhabitants deep in the vanishing points of this piece, but the rose also appears like a digital portal, ready to defy the laws of gravity. If this piece is a metaphor for an undiscovered, romantic getaway trip, then you do not want to miss an invitation.
Fig. 6 - “Quantum Rose. Triptych. A—The pregnant mother rose”, 300 x 100 cm (118 x 39 inches), 2021 (© all rights reserved)
In the second version of “Quantum Rose” (fig. 7), the outer rose petals are heavily manipulated. There remains the imagery of a megacity, where the closer you look in the center of the rose, the sections appear transparent. Since it is complicated to notice all of the buildings at first glance, one could wonder if there is an earthquake or simply a demolition of the location. The further you look, the buildings are fit in the manipulated outlines, as if there are hills and invisible spiral stairs on the ground level.
Either the center of the rose are transparent thorns, Legos, red bubble wrap, and/or mostly the number 6. On the left and right side of the center, the symbolism looks like a seahorse or a shrimp.
Fig. 7 - “Quantum Rose. Triptych. B—Intense energy”, 300 x 100 cm (118 x 39 inches), 2021 (© all rights reserved)
Down to the third piece of the “Quantum Rose” (fig. 8), from my perspective, it is a volcanic eruption. The three “Quantum Rose” pieces tell a story when placed together, which could mean a romantic megacity erupting, however the raw land still has insurmountable memories. The ash cloud is visible, erupting from the summit and the lava surrounds the melted hotspot, which is hardly recognizable. On a second thought, this piece can still be viewed as a rose, but the effects of oozing blood swerving from sections of rose petals, can be a metaphor for loved ones dying.
Fig. 8 - “Quantum Rose. Triptych. C—Messages in DNA”, 300 x 100 cm (118 x 39 inches), 2021 (© all rights reserved)
“Time suspended” at the Gallery X Art Space (CDMX, 2014)
“Paraphrase” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2017)
“As above, below,” (The Spiral) at the Oscar Romàn Gallery (CDMX, 2019)
“Contemporary images” work “Chile apixelado” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2000)
“The lottery” work “The skull” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2001)
“Nature in extinction” work “Acid rain” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2002)
“Las castas” work “Polanco y Neza, Condesa” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2003)
“Contemporary Ex Votos” work “I come to offer my heart” at the Oscar Román Gallery (2003) “Ex Votos Contemporáneos” at the Guatemala, Panama, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, and Jamaica (2003)
“Contemporary Ex Votos” at the Cuba and Romania (2004)
“Contemporary former votes” (Madrid, Paris, 2005)
"Contemporary Ex Votos" work "I come to offer my heart" exhibition that through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was presented in different cities and countries: Barcelona, Brussels, Vienna and Rome (2006)
"Monuments, symbols and icons of the Revolution" work "100 Machetes" at the Metropolitan Cultural Space (METRO) in (Tampico, Tamaulipas, 2010)
“Nature in extinction” work “Door to Perception” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2014)
“Fénix” work “The Wounded Table in the Digital Age” Frida Khalo ́s self-portrait at the Oscar Román Gallery. (CDMX, 2016)
“The Lottery” work at “La Pera” Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2017)
“Body, form and essence” work “Under the sensual shadow of your body, I escape into you” at the Oscar Roman Gallery (CDMX, 2018)
“Dreams and Surrealism” work “The Last Drop of Honey” at the Oscar Román Gallery (CDMX, 2019)
“In My Dreams.” Works "Contagion in the Louvre in times of the coronavirus" and "Equus Ferus Caballis.” “Monarch butterfly dreaming that she is a woman in REM state and vice versa” (2020)
Contemporary Votes II 30th Anniversary of the Oscar Román Gallery. Works, “Ex Voto to photography,” “Ex Voto to Mother Nature,” and "Ex Voto Divine Psychoanalyst” (2021)
Paco’s awards and distinctions:
1st place contest for professional photographers from Hasselblad (Mexico, 1994)
“The Goddess of Light" best advertising photographer for Photozoom Magazine. (Mexico, 1998)
“The Cosmic Man” Photographic work 3 decades at the Photozoom Magazine. (Mexico, 2000)
“Hasselblad Masters” Finalist. International (2010)
“Hasselblad Latin America Photographer Competition” Finalist. International (2011)
“Photographic Excellence" Photographic career at the Fotozoom magazine of photography and arts visuals. (Mexico, 2014)
“Golden Award” Wildlife “I called that half hour, perfection of the finite” Graphis Photography Annual 2017. (USA, 2016)
“Golden Award” Portrait at the “Daniel as Vincent” Graphis Photography Annual 2019. International (USA, 2019)
“Golden Award” Landscape “Castles of sand and lime” at the Graphis Photography Annual 2021 (USA, 2021)
If you want to contact Paco Macías Velasco or stay updated with his latest works, here’s his contact information:
Asia Contemporary Art Buyer. Velasco Paco, Macías. “PACO MACÍAS VELASCO.” https://www.asiacontemporaryart.com/artists/artist/Paco_Macias_Velasco/en/. 2019
Smilenews. Soto, Iván. “PACO MACÍAS VELASCO: FOTOGRAFÍA TIEMPO SUSPENDIDO.” https://smilenews.fotosmile.com.mx/fotografia-tiempo-suspendido/. 11 Mar. 2016