We’re starting a new section of the blog, long-time planned, with a series of interviews. To put our best foot forward, the first featured artist is one of our favorite illustrators, Pau Gasol Valls. Pau has a very interesting visual style and shared with us a little bit about his work, influences and creative process.
Q: Which painting artists do you admire the most?
A: I admire all painting, from the beginning, with its saints, virgins, madonnas, dull landscapes and hunting scenes to whites over whites. I’ll have to elect some names, won’t I? I especially like the portraits from Holbein, Rembrandt and Rafael. I like the “Lady with an Ermie” by Leonardo (of which I’ve seen a picture wherein ally soldiers take it from a box, probably recovered from Nazi’s hands!). I like the multitude scenes from Bueghel. I like Vermeer’s interiors, Hammershoi’s women from behind. I like the drunks from the impressionists more than the impressionist themselves: all Degas, except the ballerinas, all Gauguin and Van Gogh, all Seurat, the Americans Whistler and Singer Sargent and Ramon Casas, a Catalan painter. I like the light of the still life and animals from Jan Menkas and I like the undulating and depressive landscapes from Munch. I would like to have the sensitivity of Paul Klee, perhaps the most influential painter in illustration, especially in those aimed towards children. I like almost everything about Peter Blake. I Like Bacon, of course. I like the young Lucien Freud, afterwards it gets repetitive. I like Edward Hopper that is ancient and modern at the same time. From the contemporaries, I like the ones who are intellectual but still desire to paint (paint well, that is) as Gerard Richter and Peter Doig. Enough, right?
Q: You are very fond of portraits. Is there any detail that is common to all your portraits, something that you always want to point out?
A: I like to work with looks which have something dark, painful or menacing in the eyes. Although I’m trying to get out of this, I guess it is something my hand does without thinking and where I fall to rest after drawing other less spontaneous things.
Q: Many of your illustrations have a Symbolist character. Where does this subjectivity come from?
A: I am not sure if I just understood the question. I make no allegories nor encrypted messages. Maybe everything is built in the attempt to make sense, in the effort of meaning. The most narrative works have dark themes, born of images that happen to me, and in the most naturalistic, which are based upon photos or nature, darkness or estrangement occurs through technique or context. I guess the symbolism you’re talking about is related to the process of image distortion which unites both types of work. The symbol is clear but also hidden and I try to clarify it, to make sense from it. Maybe this doesn’t explain much as I have just invented this answer, like in a digression, but I don’t think it’s less valid. In the whole process there are some characteristics of playing games, of spontaneity, of low thinking and pure fun.
Q: Which recent movie have you enjoyed the most?
A: From the most recent and that I’ve watched in the cinema (yes, I still go to the movies usually) I found Nymphomaniac interesting, especially the first part. The problem is I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. I found the ending disappointing (the second part) which makes me question whether I understood something of the film. Reviewing the file downloads (yes, I am one of those who frequently downloads movies) I liked Mud, Esa Sureña del Río, The Child and the Fugitive, The Wolf of Wall Street and Gente en Sitios, which is a Spanish movie that I liked in recent years, with a very dark and stupid kind of humor.
Q: What kind of music do you like to listen while you are working?
A: No specific type of music. I listen to everything, with no problems regarding style, genre or period. I don’t have much criteria hahaha. But it is certain that there is always something playing, be it music or radio. Recently, I came back to listening to P.J. Harvey. Everything she plays and sings is touched by beauty.
Q: Please name us a work that you would like to hang on your wall.
A: Free choice? Man, I would line up all the self-portraits of Rembrandt, from the first paintings and prints done when he was a youngster to the many portraits from the older ages, when he was consumed by grief and loneliness. All life and art of Rembrandt in a film pellicle sequence almost. I would also like to have the first Bacon triptychs, painted when he was young, those of the crucifixion, full of red jaws and violence. I would put them in the children’s room.
Q: Which are your most unusual sources of inspiration?
A: Here we enter swamps hahahaha. As I said, I have little discretion and I like to eat everything. I think some things are clearly seen in my drawings, as customarily jumping topics, techniques and styles. I like common things, like horror movies and science fiction, every sort of comic book, including superheroes, but also more bizarre things, such as scientific illustration, ancient hermeticism, occult science or the history of the classical old world. I do not know too much of the illustration world (now I’m catching up). I come from everything that may be liked by people of faculties of philology and fine arts who spent more time in a bar than in class.
Q: Could you make a scribble or sketch telling a bit of your mental process for creation?
A: Yes, here it goes.
Moltes gràcies, Pau! :)