Oct 07, 2014 Artist Profile: Alexander Cedeño written by Sofia Fernandez Alexander Cedeño explores national identity, nature, and mischief through his colorful illustrations. Panamanian to the core, his culture and country feature very prominently in his work. He discusses cultural pride and is always aware of the way he represents his country and his people. Cedeño’s incorporation of nature in his forms and clever use of color create illustrations that are visually enticing in their childishness, formally successful because of their attention to detail, and beautifully simple. Cedeño relies on his highly stylized characters, which are reminiscent of children’s cartoons, as symbols for nature and more specific settings. Indigenous people represent Panamanian cities, female forms become nature personified. The lines in Cedeño’s illustrations are rhythmical outlines and decorative strokes. They are consistent in their varying widths, forming patterns that give a sense of shape but not of atmosphere, as seen in Chiriquí. Cedeño’s world is a flat one, where perspective is occasionally askance, and sometime even irrelevant. One of the most eye-catching details about Cedeño’s illustrations is his color palette, in which he consistently melds vividness and subtlety. Colón, Alexander Cedeño His illustrations fall in the line between soft and bright colors, combining the playful and the jarring to evoke a dreamlike landscape. He is just as comfortable using pastel blue as he is with lemon yellow, and in Colón he combines both to contrast the historical landscape. He has an eye for colors that complement one another, not just in the technical sense, but also aesthetically. He knows what is pleasing and eye-catching, playing with the illusion that colorful illustrations are for children, while subverting it with the subject matter. Aesthetically, Cedeño’s horoscope series is different from the rest of his work, be it the Panamanian cities or his illustrations about nature. His stylistic choices remain, as does his clever use of color, but this series, in which he reimagines the common representations of the zodiac, transforms his illustrations into intricate experiments of iconographic summary and visual appeal. In Escorpio, for instance, he forgoes the scorpion that is usually depicted. Instead, Cedeño chooses the long purple-and-berry braid of the central female figure to form the “scorpion’s tail.” In doing so, a spiral is created from the center of the image – spirals which are also repeated in the flattened background. Escorpio, Alexander Cedeño The eye of the audience follows the scorpion-like braid into the much more intricate center, where the figure smiles mischievously behind a mask, framed by the yellowing leaves of October and November, when Scorpios are born. The Scorpio symbol on her hair, almost like a barrette, is a more obvious sign of the image’s subject matter. He continues in a similar fashion. His Tauro features a masked figure floating before a flat, patterned background. The figure wears a bull’s headdress, surrounded by the more vividly colored flowers of late spring. Capricornio’s female figure wear’s a goat mask and faces forward. The blue strands of hair surround the figure and almost envelop her, a halo of the wintertime cold. Aries is a full-fledged ram with sunglasses and bling. Comedic, insightful, Cedeño makes the horoscope his own, while using iconography to speak for him. Cedeño’s illustrations create a realm of possibilities that play with compositional prowess and ignite the visual senses. He combines color and form to achieve infinite results, all successful in their technical achievements, and all enamoring in their absolutely childish wonder.