WATERLOO — Paco Rosic is almost in awe of Pablo Picasso’s dedication to his art.
The 20th century Spanish artist, who started making art when he could barely form words, is said to have created nearly 50,000 original works and continued to paint until his death in 1973.
But Rosic, 37, of Waterloo, makes the distinction between the man’s art and his personal life, giving a crude but accurate description of the notoriously colorful relationships Picasso had with women.
There is no such distinction for Rosic. His art is his life and his life is his art.
“For me, it’s like, this is not what I do. This is who I am,” said Rosic, whose best known work is a re-creation of the Sistine Chapel in his family’s downtown Waterloo restaurant Galleria de Paco. “I’m not here to look to be rich. I like to do what I do, and that’s it.”
Rosic’s commitment to art and his adopted home community led him to be named one of this year’s class of 20 Under 40 winners.
Buzz Anderson, who nominated Rosic for the award, demonstrates in a single sentence how Rosic has used his art for the good of the community.
“He has donated a lot of his art to local organizations in the area and continues to do so,” Anderson wrote.
Anderson describes Rosic, who moved to Waterloo at the age of 17, as a “unique individual” who has a “name that is widely recognized.”
Though Rosic admitted to some culture shock at being brought to the relatively small city compared to where he was living in Germany, he said he quickly grew to love Waterloo and the U.S. Rosic was born in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, and his family moved to Germany in 1992 during the Bosnian war.
It was around this time — just before his family left Bosnia — Rosic had his first exhibit, a series of bird paintings on display at a local hospital. Now, he mostly associates the works with the shots the nurses delivered during his visits.
Rosic turned his one-time hobby into a successful business. He has exhibits, does artwork on commission and continues to increase sales through his website at http://pacorosic.com/ and on social media.
While his passion is for painting nudes, Rosic is like Picasso in the sense he likes to branch out and try new things. His most recent exhibit titled “Cambodia” showed the poverty and emotion Rosic saw on display in the Asian country.
He went to Cambodia to meet in person a young woman, Sokontheary Ek, whom he had known for four years through online gaming. Rosic has since secured her visa and the two wed in August 2015.
Rosic describes art as both a language and an emotion.
“When I look at all my cans (of paint), I see inside those cans paintings, and I like to dig them out and put it to the canvas,” Rosic said. “Let me dig it out and just show it to the people what I see.”