Wooden Beauty

By: Carolina del Busto

Wacky eyes that give a surprised, confused expression stare out and cause one’s own eyes to linger and yearn to understand. These nameless faces painted on wood and surrounded by bright colors and clever phrases can only be one thing: the work of visual artist Alex Yanes.

Yanes has worked with wood since a young age. And we’re talking about natural, grows-from-the-ground wood. Growing up in Miami, Yanes and his friends liked to skateboard, but with no skate parks around to shred it up, he turned to the next best alternative. Using found wooden scraps, Yanes and his friends started building their own skating ramps. What he didn’t know was that this would serve as the foundation for his art career.

Yanes likes to experiment with two- and three-dimensional pieces, but the end result is always the same: art that pops from the wall and evokes a curious head tilt thanks to its combination of influences from comics to graffiti, tattoos and skateboarding.

His characters take the form of big headed and big haired, with expressions that elevate hidden emotions. Take, for instance, his piece Siempre: it has the face of a man with gray hair smoking a cigar—a nod to his Cuban roots—next to a beautiful woman with her eyes closed and her lips coyly puckered. It seems that the two are lovers, and the anxious-looking skull underneath the woman can only signify death: until death do us part, siempre, forever? What in lesser hands would be nothing but an obvious pun, in Yanes’s vibrant visual language becomes a deeper puzzle—a composition that never ceases to amuse while begging for a solution.

Make sure to check out his online shop. Your walls could definitely use some of this art.

Carolina del Busto is a freelance writer who is happy to call Miami her home. She hopes to one day pen the great Cuban-American novel, but until then she fills her time with excessive television viewing, book reading and movie watching.