From a small child, I lived in the country. By our house there was a piece of cultivated land between two lanes and a ditch which one day dawned covered with poppies. It seemed that they all had to come an agreement to burst into flower at the same time. The red of the flowers was so compact that they seemed to be a red flag. No – it didn’t seem to be a flag; the density and the vibrant red on the surface were as if they were blood; a lake of blood. But it was not the Blood Shed as in the Lorca poem; it was the blood of life, as it is made by enamoured hearts with a double ration of oxygen.
Taking great care to not spoil a single petal, fascinated, I went into the clump of poppies. On arriving at the middle, I stretched out on the ground, face up, and inebriated by the saturated scent and the voluptuousity of the smell of opium, I closed my eyes. I noticed that the poppies swayed together around me, these shoals of fish seeming to be only one. The breeze made the flowers, on moving, give a pleasant stifled sound like when you listen to music at a party, but through a wall. Or how one should perceive life from the uterus of our mothers. I opened my eyes and saw a small aeroplane that was crossing the sky. Then I imagined how I would be seen from there above. A thin body, small and pallid, outlined by a red flat surface.
Since then, I try to look at life from the outside. That was how I learnt to tell about it on the inside.
Red is a colour full of contradictions and intentions. Red has the power to go beyond its own condition of colour. It is more than colour; it is a symbol that provokes sentiments of beauty, of absoluteness, of the absence of time; of tranquility.
In 1992, in a journey that I made around Italy, I had the occasion to see the Renaissance direct, and this made me think that if I wanted to do something in the area of Art, it would have to be of this depth. I thought that there was a lot of technique because they were brush strokes that were not noticeable across a lot of glaze, and there was also the composition, the rhythm.
When I was before the Renaissance pictures and got emotional, I analysed what was making me excited within that picture. Of couse, it was not the theme, because they were quite banal themes: the Virgin Mary, the baby Jesus, Saint John when he was small. And surely, it was the mathematical structure, the composition, that so delicate chiaroscuro in which you could not see signs of the hand of man. When you are seeing a Baroque picture, of Velázquez for example, you see those brush strokes that are absolutely mastered, but you are also seeing that they have been applied, and you know which was the first and which afterwards: and inclusively which has been the one that gave him such magic.
On the other hand, in the Renaissance pictures you do not know, you do not see, and you ask yourself: how did he achieve such a soft chiaroscuro? I also fixed my gaze on the pose and placing of the figures. On the majority of occasions, the person is turned to one side instead of standing in front. The possibilities of suggesting to the spectator are made much smaller if somebody is doing something concrete because history begins and ends there, but if somebody is looking at you with a certain gentle gesture, the evocative capacity multiplies.
Art has more of a link with religion than with any other concept. I want a work of art to be something sacred, so I try to select the best materials that are within my reach. I want the technique to be so carefully done that it does not even call attention to itself.
I thought that the human being did not move about very well within absolute liberty, and that these pieces that made me so emotional were done within great limitations (estimates, contracts where every single gramme of pigment used in specified, etc.)
I imposed limits on myself; as from then I was going to paint with a flat and empty background, with the representation of one human figure and within a determined format.
I think that a principle most could have influenced me was Ghiriandalo who used a very strong palette, was very clean and elegant with a metallic point also. He could have been the most Flamencan of all the Renaissance painters, was a bit rigid, but I like that. Then with time I liked Durero or Holbein a lot. Besides, one has to add on artists who have taken Renaissance painting as a reference, as could be for example Otto Dix – one of my most preferred artists, master of the postures that we have commented and very careful about how he puts on the paint. In photography, of course Pierre Gonnord was indisputably connected with my work.
When somebody says to me: ‘I have a perfect model for you’, the person almost always is not right. He or she are always too handsome or beautiful. They must have something special, a spiritual touch; and looking back, I think that all of them had something in common, which is a physical generousity. That is to say: you can see that the person is willing to give. This could be the common feature that all of my models have, or have had. There is a great difference between one model and another. For me they are like actors; I want to transmit a sentiment in a picture and the vehicle is a person, a model.
A painting can make you get emotional, the same as a musical piece if it is well rounded off and well told.” “I want my picture to work like a piece of poetry.
I try to transmit serenity, to transmit a certain spirituality and beauty. I want the picture on its own to make one emotional, with no type of prospectus. For me all the interpretations of the spectator are valid.
Still today, when everybody in the city sleeps and the light in my studio is switched on, and I paint with the application of how, when I was small, to go to school they combed my hair with water, I go on thinking that we can transform life until it seems to be want we desire.
- “Jorge”, oil on canvas, 2000.
- “Hombre”, oil on canvas, 1994.
- “Mujer”, sanguine and pencil on paper, 1994.
- “Niña en tondo”, sanguine and pencil on paper, 1994.
- “Jorge”, drawing on paper, 1994.