Carlos Hiller - painter of ocean light

The art of Carlos Hiller is devoted to the ocean. His paintings bring powerful images brimming with energy and marine life into our daily lives. Huge schools of fish and diverse marine creatures are usually present on his paintings which evoke the mysterious atmosphere of the underwater world. Some works are split images, giving us views above and below the surface of the water at the same time in one painting.

Escape Marino

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“When I am diving or just snorkelling, all I have in mind is the marine environment, the light travelling to the deepness, my breathing. I only care about the life surrounding me, the exploration, and the colours…”

— Carlos Hiller

Hiller's images have an extraordinary sense of depth and dimension. Carlos explains, “The ocean makes me feel happy, and my paintings reflect that feeling. It is very simple, like the best things in life. My aim is to capture emotions and to capture the ocean light.”

To achieve this, Carlos uses a laborious technique involving the layering of colors in paint. He starts with an initial background colour and adds thin colourful layers of paint that form a complex final colour. When light passes through these different layers, it gives us an impression of atmosphere and water. Rather than passing through the canvas, light is returned to us from the various layers of colours of paint.

Early beginnings

Carlos was born in Argentina. From an early age, he enjoyed travel, adventure and exploring new places. Indeed, he once travelled the length of the Parana River in Argentina on a rudimentary river craft, right down to the sea.

As a result of the impressions he aquired during travels in Latin America, the young Carlos painted landscapes of the Amazon and the Central American forest. When Carlos started diving and investigating the submarine world, he began to incorporate ocean elements into his forest paintings, such as schools of fishes and dolphins swimming into the vegetation. “It was a confusing phase” said Carlos smiling.

He then decided to immerse himself into the underwater realm completely by taking a diving course and devoted himself exclusively to the ocean and painting.

Now, at age 34, Carlos sells all his paintings systematically: “I like the idea of my paintings hanging on the walls of different offices and homes and people having a moment of relaxation at the sight of them.”

When one looks at his art, one can see a great diversity of subjects and ways in which they are approached. There is a great deal of quality in the details. Carlos explains: “Sometimes it happens that only one dive provides me with so many images that I really get busy for a long time. Then, it is difficult to decide what to paint—everything is so wonderful! As I do not follow any formula, I do not repeat my paintings. The ocean is like that—every image it offers is unique and unrepeatable. Anyway, who has had two diving experiences exactly the same? People often ask me how long it takes to finish a painting, the answer is: Until I feel I have finished it! It can be 20 days or a lot longer. The important thing for me is to work only when I feel inspired and happy. If something is missing, it is time for a plunge!”

Carlos also practices underwater photography. For him, this is a useful tool to capture fundamental details.

He exhibits his artwork in Costa Rica, where he has lived for 12 years, and lately, he has started exhibiting his work in other countries, especially in the United States.

Whenever requested, Carlos gives live performances of painting as a new way of getting closer to the public. In the course of a few hours, Carlos will create a painting with a wonderful display of colour and energy and spectators become participants of the process of creation.

Carlos often creates commissioned works too, and he paints anything from miniatures to murals, although it is clear enough that he prefers the big format, considering that the ocean itself gives us immediately the sensation of great breadth and space.

One of Carlos’ next challenges is to paint a gigantic mural, with plenty of details, and to capture again the emotion, the colour, the energy of the sea and the ocean light.

Carlos achieves an exact representation of marine nature in his paintings, even though this is not his principal aim. Through symbolic associations, beyond our common senses, he enhances the images emotionally. This way, Carlos melds, in a new dimension, nature and art as a bearer of purely abstract elements. His paintings irresistibly attract all eyes. The images are so powerful that they even transmit a sense of freshness.

The painter brilliantly combines diverse factors, like the selection of colours, the “big format”, which is Carlos’ favourite, to give us the possibility of feeling “immersed” in the painting. Carlos makes a deliberate use of optical illusion as a resource to help viewers transcend from the ocean depths into the depths of our own humanity.

For more information and to order directly from the artist, please visit Carlos Hiller’s web site: For inquiries about original artwork or prints please e-mail: or call +(506) 6664878 in Costa Rica. ■