CB Hoyo: From chef to painter, “the trick is doing what you love”

On a cold March afternoon in NYC I meet with “C”, known to the art world as “CB Hoyo”

From our brief conversation online, I know his background is Hispanic so I choose Cafe Habana; a popular spot in Soho, famous for its Cuban sandwiches, hoping to appease him and be a good host.

The way we met is quite remarkable. I started following him on Instagram through a gallery I was a fan of, “Imitate Modern”. We started chatting about upcoming shows and when he made a public offer to give an interview, he was sorta hiding his face similar to Banksy, I snatched the opportunity!

3 months later, I am anxiously waiting for him, excited to hear his story, hoping to be starstruck.

To my surprise, he is as humble as they come. Wearing a black turtleneck and grey coat, his black curls softly falling on his white, chubby cheeks, he looks like he stepped out of “Dead Poets Society”. He tells me he overslept and sleeping is one of his favorite things. “Sleeping, eating, taking a shit, and fucking”. I agree with 3 out of 4 and I am surprised painting or art is not listed.

His story is fascinating in its simplicity. Born in Cuba and raised in the DR, there are surprisingly no other artists in the family, his rise to fame is a perfect accident.

After high school he moved to Belgium where some family members live, to “see what’s there”. Loving food, he started working in a kitchen and got his boss to pay for culinary school.

When I ask him about painting, eager to hear his story, he tells me cannot place a clear date “I always did it, since he can remember”

So how did this all start?

“I started posting my art on Instagram in 2016. I was broke and life is meant to be fun, it is all about the moment. On January of 2017 I went to Taiwan and that is when I told myself I just have to do it..I quit my job, went to Miami for two weeks, home in DR for a month and that is when I started posting my art even more. Imitate Modern found me on IG and that is when it all really started. You know, it was a domino effect”.

Oh wow. What is your medium?

“Canvas, acrylic, spray paint, oil”

And where do you draw inspiration from?

“ Society in general. Social media projecting certain status quo. Through my art I do what I want and say what I think. I am honest. My work is honest. And that is why people love me”

So let’s talk a bit about your clientele. Do you feel like you have to deliver a certain style in order to please your audience?

“ I will not do something just to be commercial — I need to like it. At the same time I have bills to pay but there needs to be a happy medium, life is too short to not enjoy what you like. I like to cover trends and hypes”

And what about critique?

“Art is just an expression. Who am I to judge? If you fart and record it you are expressing yourself. Anything could be art”

So if anything can be art, what makes some art sell compared to other?

“Its all a matter of having the right exposure and the right people — but you first need to be found”

Do you feel like you got lucky?

“Kind of. I was at the right place at the right time. But before anything, you have to just do it. You have to put yourself out there”

Inspired by?

“Basquiat. Expression, energy, a lot of things going on”

As he eats the last fry that came with his sandwich (no, he did not share) he tells me that “the artist’s life is good”. He does offer to pay though and it is of course paid by the company.

As CB is getting more known, more and more brands are reaching out. He is flying to Paris to work on a sunglass collaboration, then Asia for pleasure, and finally Milan for a show mid April.

I agree, the artist’s life is good.

Work by “C” can be viewed at www.cbhoyo.com