The Brushstrokes of Contemporary Artist Henry Asencio
Henry Asencio’s passion unfurls on canvas. Inspired by women, life experience and nature, this emerging figurative artist drenches his oil paintings with strong, contemplative women.
Asencio paints almost every day. “When you do something you love, time goes by quickly,” he effuses. “I can’t remember not wanting to paint.”
The oldest of four, Asencio had humble beginnings in Southern California. As a youngster, he says, “Anything related to art piqued my interest. I knew I possessed this passion for art, and my parents were always supportive. I know how lucky I am.”
Although Asencio attended art school, he did not pick up an oil brush until he was about 25. “I was a late bloomer,” he laughs. Before that, he taught himself photo realism.
His first pseudo break resulted from a few people breaking promises. “I get very intense about people doing me wrong,” he explains “I took it out on my work; that just added fuel to the fire.” The fire of splashing the canvas…
Asencio’s first real break was pure happenstance. “It was so funny,” he relates. “I had a piece in a small gallery in San Luis Obispo. Someone had put my painting behind the counter. Ruth Ann Thorn of Crown Thorn Publishing (La Jolla, CA) knew the gallery and noticed my art behind the counter. She asked, ‘Who’s this?’ And the gallery person said, ‘Some kid we’re doing a favor for.’
“I was almost homeless then. I was sleeping in a friend’s bunk bed. Ruth Ann called and asked if I had anymore paintings. I drove the seven or eight hours, and gave her five paintings. Within a week or two, they all sold. Six months later I had a show.”
He adds, “Ruth Ann and James Thorn are awesome. They struck me as having the most integrity and scruples. As a promoter, I suck. I was looking for a publisher, and I signed on with them. It has been a good marriage—seven years already. They are part of my family. What they’ve done for me and my young daughter is amazing.”
Ruth Ann Thorn immediately gravitated toward Asencio’s art. She says, “I like the spontaneity and drama of each composition. Unlike many figurative artists, the work is not staged with baskets of flowers or women and children on the beach. In other words, there are no preconceived ideas about what the painting should look like once it is complete. It is pure, raw and under Asencio’s creative mastery evolves into a magnificent work of art.”
After a couple of art expos, Asencio’s career took off. His art sold out at every show. Today’s shows most often find the call for a lottery. Crown Thorn has positioned the artist’s paintings in 70 galleries, which include a few in Canada, the UK and soon Japan.
Thorn offers several reasons why Asencio’s artistic endeavors resonate with collectors and appreciators of art. “In light of the fact that Henry is a classically trained artist, and he paints the figure, his works are timeless. What makes his paintings unique is that he blends this classical style with an abstract expressionist style by implementing unconventional techniques of basically using whatever he can find to make a mark onto the painting. The painting then becomes truly an Asencio, the background being filled with abstraction while the figure beautifully remains a timeless classic.”
She points out, “Collectors like the passion and beauty of Asencio’s works. Many collect multiple paintings because each composition is unique unto itself.”
Asencio mulls, “I think people see what I’m trying to do. It’s an opportunity to share with people the passion and sincerity that go into my art. If it strikes a chord, then that transcends any kind of success.”
For the most part, Asencio uses live models. “I have painted older men, but the majority of my paintings are of the female form. Throughout the ages, there’s been a natural attraction to the female form. This has inspired the greatest artists. On a more personal level, I was raised by a single mother. I saw her strength and her inner beauty. So I combine beauty with strength. My theme is searching for balance and harmony amid the chaos. My personality and technique lend themselves to this type of painting.”
He says, “My first love is oil painting. I don’t think any other medium or outlet is as accurate. There’s more depth and texture with oil. You can bring out more color and illusion with paint. You have the option of being more spontaneous and can use a lot of different tools—brushes, rags, knives. Whatever will make a good mark I’ll use it.”
Asencio’s artistic inspiration comes from such greats as Lucien Freud, Wilhem de Kooning and Pablo Picasso. “I am just mesmerized by Picasso’s Guernica. I take that intensity—not the look or style—and filter in my techniques and my vision.”
Next up is a book that can be found in Asencio’s fine art gallery network, entitled “Solace in Chaos.” Thorn anticipates a summer publication date.
In the interim, Asencio’s creations continue to be “hot.” Yet, Thorn says, “Collectors cannot be forced into liking an artist’s work. An artist becomes hot when his ability to create is far exceeded by those who want to collect the work.”
Asencio says, “Honestly, I wake up every morning and think how amazing it all is. I feel such gratitude toward my family, friends and models. I still feel driven; I still feel so fresh. And, I do my best to show my passion.”