Saturday, 15 August 2009

Interview with SAN; Stolen Space Gallery; Thursday 12th August 2009

Interview with SAN; Stolen Space Gallery; Thursday 12th August 2009

Stolen Space (SS): How did you start as an artist?
SAN: I started tagging when I was twelve, doing more traditional graffiti, but at that time I didn’t have any thoughts of growing up and becoming an artist. It was through graffiti that I became interested in drawing. In 1997 I moved to Madrid, to study fine art, from the small village near the Portuguese border that I grew up in, which was not really influenced by art and culture at all.

SS: What is the inspiration behind your work?
SAN: Everything, particularly natural things. I grew up in my village being surrounded by nature. This is now contrasted against the influence of the clean and the new of the city, and the way in which nature can still infiltrate and destroy it. My influence comes from everything I see; textures on buildings, flaking paint, the faces and people I pass on the street.

SS: how long did it take to develop your style?
SAN: 4 or 5 years ago I saw a big change in my work. I started using line drawings and doing everything in line and flat colour, whereas before my work was very colourful and used a lot of gradients and variations of colour.

SS: Do you use any other techniques or mediums other than painting?
SAN: My main passion is drawing, I love to draw and paint. Over the years I have tried everything; photography, sculpture etc. but I chose not to use it in my work. But ultimately I am a painter, but I still want to develop these other techniques for sure.

SS: Are the aspects to pieces shown at Stolen Space unique to this show eg. the continual red colour scheme throughout.
SAN: This is my first show using just red colours. I decided to do this because I felt there were too many people using just black and white, it all seemed to be getting a bit trendy, with these illustration styles being used in advertisements etc. I decided to use red because it is a hard colour to use, particularly when being used straight onto white, in the same way that black would be. This is the first show in which I have used red canvases, which again proved it was a hard colour to use, because if you add a bit of white it becomes pink instead of a variation of red. It is my goal to further develop creating work just using red. I feel red also symbolises Spanish culture, as it is the way the country communicates art, shown through the flag, bullfighting and it’s connection to the Spanish spirit.

SS: What is the scene like in Madrid?
SAN: Madrid is a really strong cultural city. Spain is not really like the rest of Europe, they have a cultural institution with a strong past, as well as new, but slowly developing, movements and ways of producing art. It has a lot of museums, galleries and exhibitions. I prefer it to Barcelona because I think Barcelona has become a trendy city. A few years ago it was good, there was a lot of bombing, but now it has become too trendy and is dying. I think Madrid is the culture capital of Spain.

SS: How does it compare to London?
SAN: They are very similar due to them both being capital cities. They both have a really strong history. I personally think European civilisation was built by England, France and Spain, which has meant they have strong connections with the rest of the world. I don’t really know too much about London because it is only my third time here but I would say it is the European capital of art, it’s amazing.

SS: Where else in the world has your work been shown?
SAN: I have been very busy over the past 3 years or so and have exhibited all over Spain, in London, Paris, Milan, Brussels, Dublin, Rio de Janiero, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York. I try to travel to every show, and like to leave my mark on each city by creating work on the streets and leaving a ‘seed’ behind.

SS: Has your work been well received at those shows?
SAN: America, San Francisco in particular, gave really good feedback. My work was shown in a gallery that was really committed to this kind of art, the kind of work that most other galleries won’t show. It’s a good base for my work to be shown at. It’s nice to show work in gallery that believes in you and your work. They were really dedicated to spending time and money on ‘underground art’.

SS: Is there a big contrast between your home village and living in Madrid?
SAN: There is a really strong contrast between the two. My village was around 7,000 people, and there was a big lack of communication about art and culture, it is like it is in a little bubble. However, villages have a lot of great things that cities don’t. If I originally started working in the city I think my work would be really different, as starting in a village allowed me to be much closer to the reaction of the people, they would either say; “wow, this is amazing”, or if they didn’t like it they would beat you with a stick or something, whereas cities are very vague in their reactions. There is just a huge contrast between the two, and it’s this mixture that is the basis for my work.

SS: What have you got planned for the next year?
SAN: I have a show in Barcelona in a gallery that is fairly similar to Stolen Space, called Iguapop, which feels like a good way to return to Spain, as I have not had anything there for a while. It’s really big space, which means that now I have finished the work for Stolen Space, I will change my work slightly, not the aesthetic of if, but the way in which it works with the space. I also have shows in Milan and Munich coming up and want to continue working on the street to continue the energy and thoughts that I only have when painting there.

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