His popular creation, called the “Heroes of Liberty,” depicts the more than 50 victims of this year’s protests – along with victims of previous unrest in 2014 – standing alongside independence hero Simon Bolivar and other national icons smiling widely and staring into a sky full of white doves.
“I wanted to show in my artwork the sort of country we can have one day,” said the 20-year-old artist. “I wanted to send a message of hope, something positive that would encourage people to stay on the street and struggle.
” Renderings of other fallen youth soon followed, transforming Olivares into the so-called “painter of the protests.” His Twitter following jumped and adhesive printouts of his pictures embellish some of the homemade shields that the young demonstrators wield in almost-daily clashes with security forces. In more than two months of unrest, at least 70 people have been killed and 1,300 injured.
He first gained attention as a teenager for works glorifying the country’s soccer heroes. And he’s noted for works with religious themes. His depictions of the Virgin Mary have been especially popular with the protesters.