José Morbán (b. 1987) is a painter and graphic illustrator who lives and works in his native Santo Domingo. He studied fine arts first at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales in Santo Domingo and then both fine arts and illustration at School of Design at Altos de Chavón in La Romana, Dominican Republic. His recent exhibitions include Dominican Dreams at Casa Quién, Santo Domingo; and Concurso de Arte Eduardo León Jiménes at Centro León, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
ON VIEW: La Ola (The Wave), 2020
Some experts from Brian Fee’s interview with José Morbán.
Q: Whether it appears literally, is alluded to, or figures in the background, the sea is a big theme running through your work—as it is for so many Caribbean artists. How do you think it will translate in Basel, which is landlocked by mountains? Do you feel there is some common ground there, for visitors to engage with your work?
A: I’ve never met a Swiss person before. Hell, I’ve never even been to Europe. So for me to try to understand what a place like that is, is sort of unnerving. I could tell you that every place has its limits, an endpoint if you will, where one might feel one’s insignificance in relation to nature. Maybe for the Caribbeans it is the sea, and for the Swiss it is the mountains, and for the Russians it is the coldness of Siberia?
Q: What artists—living or dead—have been most influential on your practice?
A: I have a close group of artist friends—Julianny Ariza, Joiri Minaya, Javier María, and Engel Leonardo—whose practices I admire. They have helped me grow as an artist because I’ve seen up close the effort they’ve put into their work throughout the years. With them, I talk endlessly about art and what it means to be an artist, especially one from the periphery. Of course, as an art student and curious person, you see and learn through the work of so many artists. Some established artists I’ve followed through my career are Luis Camnitzer, whose written work has helped me to define my own practice, and Luc Tuymans, a painter who deals with historic tropes and found imagery.
To explore the other artists on view, click here.
To view the exhibtion One month after being known on that island, click here.