WHAT DO ARTISTS' STUDIOS HIDE?

Visiting an artist's studio means entering an intimate field and breathing the creative environment that surrounds the author's work. When one enters this space, all senses are on to trace and locate those little details that tell us a little more about the spirit and thought of the artist, the corrected sketches, the rectifications, the essays, the tests pinned on the walls, the traces in reused paper, the notes, the newly sharpened pencils, the stains of paint... We speak of orderly chaos, of a sphere where work and inspiration coexist and that the creators resist sharing, because, sometimes, opening the doors of the studio is almost like opening the doors of the soul.

Visiting Rubén Martín de Lucas' studio during Art Madrid'19

These spaces also have a halo of mystery, intimacy and familiarity in which we must move forward cautiously, being careful not to go too deep, to discover the secrets as far as the artist wants to confess. But it is also the ideal opportunity to enter into direct communication with the work, to know the production process from its beginnings to the end, to understand the doubts, the intentions, the aim and the message of a project from the bowels.

In the past editions of Art Madrid, we were lucky to visit Rubén Martín de Lucas's and Okuda San Miguel's studios, guest artists in 2019 and 2018 respectively. With Martín de Lucas we were able to know in detail his great vital creative project “Stupid borders”, from which different concrete actions with their titles derive. Still, all of them respond to the same idea: deepen in the relationship of man with the earth and understand the artificial patterns that we impose as a society. In the studio, we could see his most recent pieces and understand the process of conception and expression, the reasons for choosing one discipline or another, his latest video works and the millions of notes and sketches of each line of the project.





Okuda San Miguel opened for us the doors of his studio in 2018. This large diaphanous white-painted unit looked like the perfect canvas for its multicoloured pieces, in the middle of shelves and tables full of spray cans. At the time of the visit, the artist was giving the final touches on the work "Lake of Desire" of 6x3 m, which he made exclusively for Art Madrid and could be seen at the entrance of the fair. This painting is inspired by the Garden of Earthly Delights by El Bosco, an author of reference for Okuda and that continues to arouse the interest, surprise and curiosity of many. The large format pieces coexist with small-sized enamels, in addition to sculptures, test boards and huge sketches for buildings' facades. Because Okuda works big and has a complete team that helps him focus on his work. As he explains, the creative process never stops, and having a team allows him to carry out so many projects at once.

Guillermo Peñalver, “Yo, dibujando” (detail), 2019

Some other artists make their own home their studio. This is the case of Guillermo Peñalver, to whom the ABC Museum of Illustration dedicated an exhibition within its program "Connections" with the title "Self-portrait inside." His voracity for the cropping, the use of paper in various shades, the overlapping of whites and the discreet use of the pencil make Peñalver's work a delicate and intimate one, like the scenes he recreates. In this case, the vision of his collages is like a visit to their house/studio, where the rooms become multipurpose spaces, and the daily actions take the stage. The last work of this author is a sincere exercise where he represents his day to day from the precarious reality of the creator that fuses his work with his daily activity.

FAC 2015

Honouring this direct relationship with the author that occurs when visiting the studio, David Heras launched his project FAC (Home Art Fair), which counts already on five editions. The idea is to foster an open dialogue with the creators by exhibiting their works in a domestic environment and eliminating traditional market barriers. Although the initiative continued to grow, the original proposal was born in David's own house, who opened his studio and his home to exchange, knowledge and experience. It is about linking to art from personal experience, meeting the artists and enjoying their work, whether in the kitchen, the living room or the bedroom.

 

We embark on a journey that crosses our country from end to end, which crosses the capital as an obligatory step, as one who threads the needle and tight its ends towards the corners of our territory to die to the sea. From the coast to the nerve centre of this vast space we travel asphalt and dirt ways, paths transformed into roads that attest to the passage of time and the evolution of our history. We pass through villages that were once the cradle of the great events of a common story. We recognise the names of places we study as essential enclaves of our legacy. Others arouse rather surprise and perplexity, curious, strange and bombastic, but already devoid of a genuine sense as a population.

José Manuel Navia, La Alcarria de Cuenca, parada coche de línea en Olmedilla de Eliz, “Alma tierra”, 2019

The desolate places of a progressive and unstoppable rural exodus resist oblivion thanks to road signs and an isolated tavern that remains open to quench the thirst of the traveller. The kilometres and the time surrender to our passage and throughout the route we see a bitter reality: the depopulation affects today 80% of the territory, while the big cities attract more and more people and concentrate 80% of the entire population. The image has certain similarities with the metaphor of "The Nothing" of The Neverending Story, where the emptiness was invading the kingdom of Fantasy because children did not read or let their imagination fly, which is what feeds the stories of the fairytales. In real life, these same stories are lost in the domains of oblivion, confined in a past that seems remote and obsolete, subjugated to the impositions of progress and urban life.

José Manuel Navia, Angelines en Susín, Sobrepuerto (Huesca), “Alma tierra”, 2019

However, it should be borne in mind that the place we are in today is in debt with our villages. The evolution of events cannot be explained without a shared history marked by milestones that have taken place throughout our land. We also face a serious social problem that must respond to the need to reconquer our spaces, preserve our traditional culture and take advantage of the resources that our land offers.

With the desire to value this immense wealth, unknown and helpless, Acción Cultural Española AC/E has launched the Alma Tierra project. This photographic journey through the work of José Manuel Navia offers a wide panorama of landscapes, situations and environments where there is always room for feeling, nostalgia and hope for the future.

José Manuel Navia, Belén, ganadera del valle del Corneja (Ávila), “Alma tierra”, 2019

“These villages died so that we can live and from their misfortune comes our luck. The rich manage differently, the poor are always guilty." Luis Mateo Díez, “El espíritu del páramo”, 1996.

The project brings together a total of 158 works, gathered in a book with texts by Julio Llamazares, who explains that the initiative is "an elegy, a plea against the marginalisation of some Spaniards by the rest and a call to reflection." An exhibition in the Diputación de Huesca collects a selection of photographs and gives us some of the most poetic images of interior Spain.