by Vatsala SethiDec 26, 2022
The artist Jose Palacio, also known as 'JIPS' or 'JIPSx', is a multidisciplinary visual artist from Colombia, whose fantastical, often-psychedelic practice builds itself off digital art, painting and animation. He embarked on his artistic path when he was very young, telling STIR he has always liked to paint, and that watching his mother making art in many different techniques, primarily on various textiles, served as inspiration. The artist says, “This taught me that there were multiple ways to express myself, based on the feeling of the moment." When the time came that Palacio had to choose a university career, he and his parents decided together that he should study business administration. He looks back on this, saying, “At that time, I was very young, I was barely 16 years old, now that I see it in retrospect, I feel like I made a decision very tied to family and social aspirations, but that ultimately helped define the person I am today. Despite studying for a career far removed from the arts, I had the opportunity to explore my artistic side by pursuing music at the same time. I couldn't finish it due to financial issues, but it helped me to reconnect with my artistic self. Having completed my studies in business administration and with my degree in hand, doors were opened for me to work in the stock market, and later as a financial manager of a company. This was seen as a success by the society in which I lived, but I did not feel complete; I felt that it was not aligned with what I wanted for my life.”
Palacio began to pursue an artistic career in his spare time, as a means of escape and self-care. He mentions that it made him feel as though he was disappearing. His toolkit at this stage was quite small. He tells STIR that at this point, all the work he would make would be done on his cell phone as he had no other means of drawing. He continues, "All my nights started to turn into spaces of creation, where I just let the things, I wanted to create flow freely. My first paintings turned towards criticism of society, especially towards the sterile, elitist and conservative culture of the city where I was born: Barranquilla. My inspiration was the banks and cocktails at the Country Club and the plastic people I had to interact with in my day-to-day life. However, little by little the themes and styles of art that I was working on took other directions. I began to investigate into the nature of things, the subconscious, and the way our culture shapes our beliefs and our perception of reality.”
Each new artwork that the artist created was shared with his closest friends. They came to play a fundamental role in his practice through their belief in him and would give him the security he needed to continue creating. One of them in particular, Carlos Castillo, decided to give Palacio the tool he needed at that time: an iPad. This led the visual artist to explore depths in his practice that he hitherto did not believe he would reach. He elaborates on this saying, "It led me to expand and leave my small cell phone screen, for a world of possibilities that I had not explored. That is why even today, I remember with great gratitude that generous act that boosted my creative capacity. After this, little by little proposals came to me that I never thought of. For example, mural art, making animations and designing covers. All this was something that I did not know, but excited me, and that emotion was that common thread that helped me take advantage of this great opportunity to learn new tools and techniques and develop my skills. My life was becoming more and more detached from the administrative sphere, and every day I was approaching my art to a greater extent, until one day I decided to dedicate myself completely to this.”
Today, Palacio sees his practice as a mission and a search to understand reality and what lies beyond it. Through altered states of consciousness and meditation, he has come to find himself in realms beyond our perception of what is “real”; beyond what he believes religions have said or science has been able to explain. In these places, where neither physics nor biology hold dominion, where the form itself is transient, is where much of his art comes from. "In many of my paintings you can see a being dressed as an astronaut, called a ‘psychonaut’. This character is the common thread of many of my stories. In my works, you will see some of what I have lived and experienced, and its interpretation is totally open since I am only a medium between two worlds," he shares.
Palacio reveals that he follows a rather straightforward creative regimen for his multidisciplinary art. He says, "I consider my artistic process to be quite simple. I get up very early every morning, I go to my studio and depending on the motivation with which I wake up, I work on something specific. There are days that I wake up wanting to animate, so I get in that zone. On others, I find myself wanting to learn artificial intelligence, and I dedicate my day to making projects of that sort. I try to give each piece I create the importance it deserves; give it a purpose and a spirit.”
The iconography that the Colombian artist utilises within his works is closely linked to what lives within his subconscious: what he experienced as a child, what he liked, the images that stimulated and attracted him in his childhood, the games he played and so on. He notes that his voice and feelings are Caribbean and that this is something that flows from his subconscious and can be evidenced in the presence of colourful characters from the Barranquilla carnival in his art. However, Palacio doesn’t allow these to take over and instead chooses to mine his subconscious unfettered by it: for him as an artist, it is of utmost importance above all else, not to allow biases to enter his work.