SAMUEL SALCEDO INTERVIEW. REALISM AND SENSE OF HUMOR WITH 3 PUNTS GALERIA

"In the aluminum or the same black epoxy I work with, the viewer is reflected and reads according to his mood what is happening.”

Samuel Salcedo, creator of expressive, ironic and vulnerable characters, presents in Art Madrid with the gallery 3 Punts, a selection of pieces from his most recent work, where the Catalan sculptor has executed by experimenting with new materials such as cast iron or cast sand.

Samuel Salcedo participates regularly in individual exhibitions with 3 Punts Galeria, 100 Kubik Gallery (Cologne) or with Robert Drees in Hannover. His work has been present in contemporary art fairs such as Art Madrid, Swab, Frankfurt Art Fair or Art London, among others.

Samuel Salcedo

Black Mirrors Series, 2019

Epoxy resin

70 x 70cm

Samuel Salcedo

Pinball Wizard 1, 2019

Aluminum

95 x 95cm

The gallery 3 Punts is once again betting on your work. What new pieces will we be able to see in this edition of Art Madrid?

I'm very excited to bring three sculptures I've made in cast iron, a material I've started working with recently. They are three pieces, three heads that are going to be placed directly on the floor, very heavy pieces with a very nice material, which has memory. On the surface of this material, in the open, the mark of oxidation remains, and this is linked to nine masks that will be placed on the wall, worked on under the same idea. These 9 pieces are made with recycled foundry sand, sand that was previously used to make moulds in the foundry and that has been burned and reused after being bells, taps, other sculptures... So, this material that "has already done its job", I recycle it, mix it and apply it to the surface of the faces, on their skin.

Only for curiosity, have you considered experimenting with other artistic techniques such as painting?

When I started exhibiting at Art Madrid, at first I exhibited painting alone, and little by little I've changed. I like painting, it's a language that in fact was more natural to me in the beginning. Now I've been working almost exclusively with sculpture for 10 or 12 years, but I also paint. What happens is that painting is a little more "cruel" language, and the fact that I'm working at a very intense pace doesn't allow me to do many. Some of them I do, in fact I have many started but we are not here for this edition.

Samuel Salcedo

Toy Land - Mirror Mirror, 2019

Resina poliuretano policromada

27 x 10cm

Your heads in epoxy resin or bronze have different expressions, most of them passive or with angry gestures. What do you want to transmit with these apparently individualistic sculptures?

I try to make sure that the faces are not too extreme, that you can empathize with them, that they don't displease or generate rejection. It is true that some have an ambivalent expression, depending on the person looking at them, it can be interpreted that there is a gesture of pleasure or displeasure in the same face. I like very much that the person who sees my pieces can be reflected, in fact in many of my sculptures I work with a material that reflects the light or even the image. In the aluminium or the same black epoxy where I work, the spectator is reflected and reads what is happening according to his or her state of mind. In the end it is basically this, like a mirror where people see things and in the end the human face with its different expressions are formulas of communication, just as it is to speak or move the hands. With this I try to hook the person who is seeing my pieces.

Your characters are between the real and the fantasy, and all of them show certain imperfections. Does this have to do with the social and political reality of the moment?

Sometimes you do things by intuition or without thinking about them too much. In this case, choosing a more idealised beauty, a more natural beauty or more natural bodies, has no clear reason. It's true that I've been told that, especially when I represent women, it's not the usual type of beauty, these are normal beauties. We can see that there is a tendency to normalize this representation within women who actually have a body, just like men. Nobody is perfect. I remember that last year a group of girls from the University of Fine Arts told me that they identified a lot with this trend and I thought it was very nice that sometimes you can hook all this, the fact of not idealizing. There is a social background obviously, I choose not to look for stereotypes, but I try to look for the normality as we are, that for something we all live in the same place.

Samuel Salcedo en su estudio de Barcelona

As an artist, what do you feel committed to?

When you work, you make decisions, and it's true that there are artists who have a much more intense social commitment than I do, but I do at an individual level. I think that within what I can control in my work I have to try to be honest about what I do. I have small children and I try to explain, especially to my daughter, gender equality, not to look for stereotypes...

When I work with the representation of men and women, in this case, this is what I try to look for, that there is a certain dignity in women and above all I try to make my language understandable. I don't intend to create an elitist job, because it seems to me very unfair to try not to make you understand. If my family or my friends did not understand my work I would be wrong about something. Having a generous attitude towards the people who see your work would also be part of this idea.

Do you think that it is difficult to stand out as an artist today? Is it in the originality of technique and style where the secret of your success as an artist in the actual art market?

Success is very relative. When I was studying, I thought, "man, if I succeed, I'll be able to live from this...", but of course, you change your expectations. In the end it's a fight, it has an unfair point, because many people think that even if they have talent they can't get ahead, and there's also some justice in my case and in the case of people I know who are brilliant and who are doing well. If we lived in New York, we would have a very different dimension of success than we have in Barcelona, for example. I am not going to complain, it would be very unfair, but it also requires a significant effort, the demand that this work requires and the resignation must be clear. It also depends a lot on external factors that are difficult to control, but, well, whenever I have believed that I was doing something that was right, it has worked for me.

3 Punts Galeria, will exhibit in Art Madrid the last creations of the artists: Alejandro Monge, Efraïn Rodríguez, FAILE, Gerard Mas, Kiko Miyares, Ramon Surinyac, Richard Stipl y Santiago Picatoste.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.