Juan Bastos, Portrait Painter, on Exhibit in LA


JUAN BASTOS is a portrait painter whose work was on exhibit at a major retrospective at the Denenberg Fine Arts Gallery in West Hollywood, CA, in November. Included in the exhibition were the covers of several issues of The Gay & Lesbian Review that featured Juan’s art.

Juan Bastos with paintings. The one of Gore Vidal was featured on a G&LR cover. Tom Parry photo.

            I had a lively conversation with Juan about his career as an artist and about the exhibition, which was part of the massive Getty Museum project, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a celebration of Latin American art in Southern California, with dozens of galleries participating. Juan’s covers for The G&LR, of which there were a dozen in the early 2000s, included portraits of Tennessee Williams, Susan Sontag, Rudolf Nureyev, Ian McKellen, and Gore Vidal, with whom he developed a friendship late in the great writer’s life.

            I interviewed Juan in October at the lovely L.A. home that he shares with his partner Tom Parry.                     — Chris Freeman


Chris Freeman: Tell me a bit about your background, especially regarding how you first became interested in art.

Juan Bastos: I was born of a Bolivian family in Venezuela. We moved back to Bolivia when I was eleven, and I was happily surprised that two of my relatives were painters, one a portrait painter. Every weekend, we went to their house and I’d sneak into her studio and look at all her work. My mother’s cousin was an artist who lived in Paris. She was a bohemian.

Chris Freeman teaches English and gender studies at USC. His forthcoming book “Isherwood in Transit” is near completion.

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