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.

 

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.