José M. Fontaiña was born in Riveira (Galicia), Spain in 1961 and moved to the USA with his family in 1978. He attended William Paterson University, planning to be a Spanish teacher, but his artistic interests overcame his desire to teach and he ultimately switched his major in the middle of his junior year, graduating with a BA in Art (Dean’s List) and a Minor in Spanish – a decision he has never regretted.
An avid comic book reader, Fontaiña initially sought to create a career in comics, but discovered his style of art was not a good match. He enjoyed creating “pointillist” works with technical pens, small brushes, and inks, and began exhibiting in galleries. Committed to detail and precision, Fontaiña spent a painstaking amount of time to complete each piece. He later discovered Sennelier oil pastels and worked in that medium for years. Then, satisfied with his accomplishments in pastel, he began to paint in acrylics.
“My paintings are a true reflection of myself and I enjoy the wonderful freedom that originality provides,” says Fontaiña. I describe my work as being a good Caldo Gallego, a delicious Galician soup made by mixing together many vegetables and meats. Instead of using cooking ingredients, I use the elements of art. Creating art is my full time job. I am obsessed with it, but it is a healthy and rewarding obsession. Each blank surface is a painting with a new beginning, an intriguing puzzle that must be solved, and a wonderful means for discovering myself in a way of life that I love to live.”
Fontaiña was mentored by Mr. André Teabo, an assistant to well-known artist Romare Bearden, a cartoonist and art editor for the Eucleian Society's at NYU, who later became famous for his collages and abstract paintings. Teabo helped Fontaiña discover new, more interesting and exciting ways of painting.