Saturday, November 10, 2007

ArchipiXelagos

My father in law, Angel Pascual Rodrigo recently opened his 101st exhibition in his hometown, Zaragosa. I think his idea of studying the relationship between the 'real' world and 'digital' worlds is brilliant. This is one of my favourites! The leading newspaper in Aragon, the Heraldo de Aragon published an interview in the Oct 23rd edition which I have translated below. There are a few technical art terms that I am not sure how to translate directly into English, so bear with me.



Juan Domínguez: Back in Zaragoza...
Angel Pascual: And with my one hundred and first solo exhibition.

JD: It seems like it was just yesterday that you had your first exhibition here.
AP: But it has been a bit longer than that.

JD: How do you feel after so many years?
AP: A little tired, I suppose. But then there is always the thrill of looking to revisit paths that I have left behind

JD: Is this how it has been ever since the days of la Hermandad Pictórica*?
AP: Yes, rediscovering form, landscape, romanticism. In each one of my paintings I have had a feeling of revisiting forgotten paths.

JD: And now, ArchipiXélagos . . .
AP: This one is something new. It contrasts a landscape with a lot of inner strength -- the islands -- with the single pixel of the digital world.

JD: Sounds strange, indeed.
AP: But not so strange. I paint a landscape and break it down into squares that subdivide and blur, until they become their minimal units -- pixels.

JD: Is there any higher intention than mere experimentation?
AP: There is a juxtaposition of the natural and digital worlds, but not a value judgement. Because we coexist with these two worlds that seem antagonistic, the intention is to reflect the reality in which we live even though that reality leaves us perplexed.

JD: The references to the natural world are real?
AP: Yes, I have combined two kinds of landscape, the Pyrenees -- as an example of virgin space -- and the equatorial landscapes of Sri Lanka, which I recently visited. They aren't subjective references, but living landscapes.

JD: Are you making a political statement?
AP: Let's say geopolitical. By heavily pixelating an image we draw very definite borders in a space, borders that did not previously exist. Within these borders, we impose uniformity on everything. This is, for example, what happened with the colonisation of Africa with all the tragedy this brought about.

JD: Pixelisation, so to say, breaks natural unity and creates artificial compartments...
AP: This is why the 'X' is capitalised in the exhibition title as a symbol of the break in continuity.

JD: Your work has always had many 'extrapictorial' metaphorical elements.
AP: Since the beginning. With the Hermandad, we started doing pop conceptual, magical conceptual realism, conceptual romanticism, conceptual landscapes...

JD: Landscapes have always been your main instrument.
AP: Through landscapes we sought to do everything including abstraction, pintura-pintura**, and expressionism. The landscape is a very open language. Portraits force you to maintain a similarity with the model. With a landscape you can move mountains.

JD: Your paintings synthesise many influences. . .
AP: 21st century postmodernism is essentially synthesis, synthesism. My work could be called neosysnthesism. I identify with the synthetic movement of Gauguin, Van Gogh, the Nabis, who brought together earlier schools, traditions. I synthesise styles that have appeared since their time.

JD: How would you define your present way of engaging with art?
AP: Like a dialogue with the painting. When I begin a painting I have a first idea of what I'm going to do; but the painting directs you. So when you make a brushstroke, the following one must be in relation with the first; it shows you the way. And so you can no longer follow the preconceived idea. Colour and texture also tell you what you have to do next.

JD: Painting through the lens of the sacred, so to say?
AP: I like to see it this way, and I would like others to see it this way too. In 1978 when I visited the Añisclo Canyon***, I had the feeling that it was waiting for me. I painted it and this painting is a landmark in my work.

JD: Even inanimate things have a soul...
AP: Stones have an intelligence, albeit passive. Images have a hidden life. And art enables us to see it.

JD: How has living on an island influenced you?****
AP: I sometimes compare myself to Ulysses on Calypso's island. I'm happy, yet I yearn for Ithaca, which isn't something physical, concrete, its a nostalgia for other horizons. But every man is Ulysses.

JD: What is the future of art?
AP: Art has lost its course. It has been carried away by fashion trends that can't be controlled -- even by those who start them. Each trend is challenged by another that contradicts it. In the end, everything is determined by the whims of fashion. That's why I prefer synthesis. Its like returning to Ithaca, where all dispersion returns to unity.

Sounds interesting? Visit the expo website...


Notes:
*
'the Pictorial Brotherhood,' in the early days of the artist's career he painted with his brother Vicente Pascual Rodrigo and together they were known by this name.
**
*** A region of outstanding natural beauty in the Spanish Pyrenees.
**** thirty years ago Angel Pascual Rodrigo moved to Mallorca and he has lived there since.

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