Posted March 20, 2023
By SIMONE WERNER
At two years old, Peter Ipina sat in his father’s lap in a closet-sized, home art studio in El Salvador. His unsteady hand picked up one of his father’s paintbrushes for the first time. Without a care in the world, Ipina smashed the bristles of the brush in acrylic paint and sloppily scraped the brush across the canvas.
Outside of their father-son painting sessions, Ipina grew up watching his father, Pedro Ipina, become one of the most highly celebrated painters in El Salvador.
Ipina did not realize he shared his father’s talent until his second-grade classmate asked him to draw a picture of her.
“My classmates were all smiling at my cartoon,” said Ipina. “Everyone kept saying, ‘Peter! Me next!’” At that moment, he discovered how much he loved making artwork that made other people feel something.
Ipina spent the next 20 years refining his technique with his father. Over time, he began fantasizing about moving to the “land of opportunity” to pursue his art career.
But, as time progressed, the decision to move became difficult. If he moved, there was someone he would have to watch grow-up in pictures, rather than in-person.
“I knew I was going to be alone in America for a long time before I could see my parents or my son, Antonio, again,” said Ipina. Antonio Ipina was 4 years old when Peter Ipina made the difficult decision to follow his dream. In 2009, at 30, Ipina packed his life into a few suitcases and moved to Atlanta.
“Antonio and I talk almost every day,” said Ipina. “He loves to draw and play soccer. He is 17 now. It was hard to leave him, but I told myself I would move to the U.S. and do my best.”
He faced another challenge once he moved. “It was hard to talk,” said Ipina. “All I knew was broken English.” So, Ipina found a way to communicate with others through his artwork.
Ipina draws inspiration from everyday life, illustrating societal issues, nature, animals, pop-color portraits, and abstract art.
Ipina works from his small, home studio. He works with paint, graphite, pastel plaster, watercolor, acrylics, and oil. Ipina also does graphic design work.
Whether holding a pen or using the pen tool on Adobe Illustrator, Ipina gets lost in his work. “I’m unplugged,” said Ipina. “I put on my headphones and the art just flows. Some days, I paint for hours before I take a break just so I complete it when the passion is there. I have to finish it that day because I can feel it.”
According to his friends, Ipina’s passion is undeniable.
“He is always talking about his goals and his projects,” said Ipina’s soccer teammate Noel Avila. “He has so much passion and talent.”
The two friends met playing pick-up soccer when Ipina moved to Miami in 2014.
Ipina’s work is shared with more than just friends. Throughout his life, his work has been in exhibitions in El Salvador, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, and Washington D.C.
In December 2022, Ipina’s artwork made its first debut at Art Basel in Miami. Art Basel is an annual international art fair. His work was on display at the Artbox Project site and was also auctioned off at a Latin Angels Foundation (LAF) charity event.
According to an article on The LAF, the organization has a “goal of improving the lives of less fortunate people in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, particularly in health and medicine concerns.”
Ipina’s artwork was also showcased two weeks ago during the Superfine Arts Fair in Wynwood. Superfine Arts Fairs are held around the U.S. and the fair came to Miami in mid-February. His work was a hit there as well.
“We enjoyed the entire exhibition but we especially loved his work,” said fair attendee Luis Mendez. “His work is amazing and his passion and excitement make it even better… more engaging. It was neat to see someone that is usually my waiter in his happiest environment.”
Mendez is also a frequent customer at the Great House of Quayside in North Miami, where Ipina works as a waiter and bartender.
“Art is a passion and side job that brings in some money,” said Ipina. “But, for now, the restaurant business is how I pay my bills. I only work nights, so I use the rest of the day to prepare for my exhibitions.”
Ipina’s artwork made its debut at World Art Dubai (WAD) with the company SolutionArt March 12-15.
According to the WAD website, the event “bring[s] contemporary art from all over the world for collectors and enthusiasts searching for diverse, affordable and original art under one roof.”
The event was held at the World Trade Center in Dubai.
“We found his work admirable because of his technique and expression,” said CEO of SolutionArt Mercedes Priero. SolutionArt is a company that has galleries in the Miami area.“I picked his work to be showcased with ours at WAD because his work fits in with the quality and technique we represent as a company.”
Ipina has more exhibitions coming up soon. Ipina will be painting live at the Hotel InterContinential in Downtown Miami every Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. throughout April 2023.
To stay up-to-date with his upcoming projects and exhibitions, you can follow Ipina’s journey on Instagram at @ipixelation.