Pablo Rodríguez Guy is an enormously vital and enthusiastic multidisciplinary visual artist, not only with art but with life in general. Qualities that are reflected through works in which color and the successful use of lines go hand in hand to create an intimate space in which the soul moves freely. A tireless researcher, he incorporates all kinds of materials and the most diverse techniques into his creations. The Benalmádena Exhibition Center welcomes until next December 50 years of Light and Color,an exhibition with which the painter wants to “celebrate life” and entertain us with a feast of color, works in various formats and techniques, as an introspective overview of his artistic universe. This exhibition is presented as “the pages of a story that fly in time towards infinity … like a love letter” that aims to flood the spirit of those who visit it with light, color and life.
-Painter, engraver and sculptor … but perhaps your facet as a teacher in textile design is more unknown … how do you remember those years?
-As soon as I finished Fine Arts, I was offered the position of adjunct professor at a textile design school. We did not teach textiles, but an artistic cultural bath. For me, more than a job it was a master’s degree. I was with the best at that time of the intelligentsia and I became very rich. It was a great experience from which I learned a lot.
-In his creations he uses endless materials and techniques… given that the possibilities are endless, how do you know that a work is finished?
-The difficult thing for me is not to finish the work, but to know when I have to stop. Normally, I spend … (-he smiles-) and sometimes, I’m cautious and stop on time. I work flat, on the floor or on a table. When I think it’s finished, I put it on an easel and look at it. It is there, in that observation, where the balances, composition and other elements come into play, and it is when I decide if I have any more retouching to do. The desirable thing is that it conserves the spontaneity of that first artistic attack.
-The photography freed pictorial art from that compulsory notarial role that it had and allowed artists the possibility of reflecting on light or color … However, they have chosen to incorporate it into their works as a peculiar plastic language within abstraction …
-It’s my way of incorporating testimony of reality. My work moves between a rational element that is translated into geometry and, on the other hand, chance, emotion, feelings … that are expressed through color, stain, indeterminacy in the work ultimately. This dialogue between reason and chance leads to an emotional expression. Placing a photograph is introducing a testimony of reality, putting a third element into play. I find it attractive to recover that part of reality that is not decisive in the work, but is complementary.
-Perhaps for this reason he defines his works as “city walls where graffiti, posters and graffiti are mixed” …
-Exactly. After all, they are testimonies of experiences. My work is everything that surrounds me … and you have to see it more than with analytical eyes, with the eyes of the soul and the heart.
-Where does this overflowing inspiration for India come from?
–There was a time when I began to travel through Europe and South America and one day I thought that what would be the destination that I would not want to miss if I had to make only one trip in my entire life … I thought of India, so there I went . India, in addition to color, vitality and movement, is the conjunction of philosophy, religion, life itself, which are there on the surface. And that is something that has been lost because the great cultures have disappeared. The great ancient cultures are already history but in India they are alive. You see it in people’s eyes, in how they dress… When I am there, I live in constant emotional excitement and that emotion is transferred to my paintings, with all its color and fascination.
-In a large part of your creations you emphasize the lyrical part of the world, how did the crudest reality of the day to day that you show in Testimonials get into your art?
-Humans are versatile. We artists perceive the world, we suffer the world, with the dramatic and the sweet, and we reflect it with intensity.
– You are also disseminators …
-And as such, we not only stay in, for example, a song to nature, but we also transmit the drama of the day to day. It is to reflect all that part of the reality that we also live and affects us. When the confinement began, I began to do some sordid works that reflected the uncertainty of not knowing what would happen but I soon thought about what that moment should face with another type of resilience and put positive elements to this situation. For me it was a very creative time within the exceptionality of a situation that we had never experienced before. I focused on my work completely and worked intensively because it was no longer painting, it was immersing myself fully in my work. I am very given to living in the moment.
-Precisely during the confinement, he released a video on how to make handmade frames that is experiencing a great diffusion …
-Yes. It is a video that helps a lot to be present in oneself because you work with your hands and that helps us to become aware of our reality. We give a lot of importance to our mind and little to our mental body. The body has its life and memory independently of our mind. The sign is that it continues to function when the mind dies. And you have to take care of both We have to learn to give him an attention that is not only to beat you in a gym, but also to reward him.
-Your concern to investigate has led you to immerse yourself in different disciplines and techniques. In my opinion, the most surprising is the so-called calco-relief. Does mixography and the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo have any influence?
-Effectively the origin is in Rufino Tamayo. Mixography as a name is registered and its promoters have taken great care to keep the technique secret. They exhibited it in Arco and did not explain anything about how they carried it out, but several artists have developed it on our own, making a parallel technique. The name of tracing-relief is the least. I did not invent it. I have simply given a name in Spanish to that technique that allows you to make the relief you want.
-An almost sculptural relief could be said …
-Yes. It would be a low relief and even a high sculptural relief. And it also allows to make very large sizes that in traditional mixography are not usual. It makes sense, since the engraving is parallel to the painting. If it is flat, so is the engraving. In the twentieth century, painting began to gain relief and engraving also wanted to do so and thus, new techniques such as collagraph were invented, in which relief began to be incorporated but very slight. By developing this technique, I enable the incorporation of the relief that each one wishes, without limits.
-Despite being abstract art and incorporating a multitude of elements, in your work it seems that there is no room for confusion, how do you achieve that balance?
-Perhaps that is the essence of my work. What I do is an abstract emotional landscape. What happens is that sometimes it is not a landscape as we understand it –some trees or a field- but it is an interior landscape, in which what matters is the emotionality that transmits more than the representativeness. This interior landscape is present in all my production… In contact with people I have the satisfaction that people of diverse origins agree on the same interpretation. This means that the work conveys an unequivocal content despite being abstract art. For me, the expressive value of the line is very important on the one hand, and the color on the other. The conjunction of the expressiveness of lines with the intrinsic nature of color gives a result of space in which emotions move and the spirit or soul can feel good or bad at will.
– You have been offering talks and conferences on art for many years, with an intention that goes beyond the merely informative?
-My main objective is that the public can enjoy the painting. With music we are able to enjoy even though we do not understand anything, and with literature we have more habit and we get more or less juice from a novel or poetry but with plastic art we impose barriers and say: “No. I don’t understand” . But in reality it is that we have not made the correct reflection because it is not understanding, it is feeling. The language of painting is not made up of rational interpretive codes, but emotional ones. Normally in a work we look for the explanation in the subject, but in reality it disturbs us and prevents us from seeing the essence that is how the work is painted. The works are not in museums because they portray a religious image or a landscape, they are because of the way they are painted. Precisely, most of the lectures that I have given have been intended to help you look and see, which is not the same.
-He has also coordinated workshops aimed at the little ones …
-We have a lot to learn from them because they keep intact their capacity for interpretation, imagination, and enjoyment. They don’t ask you for explanations or ask what this or that means … they like it, or they don’t like it. I remember a child’s interpretation of one of my works while visiting an exhibition. He told me: “This work seems to me a space of the mind open to hope.” Surprising! We may have to unlearn to be freer. Picasso used to say: “It took me three or four years to get to paint like Raphael or Michelangelo and a lifetime to learn to do it like a child”, and he was absolutely right.
-I have to confess that a few years ago I was in Madrid and a newspaper fell into my hands – I’m sorry I don’t remember which one – in which they interviewed him after winning a speed painting contest at El Retiro. I remember that interview because it caught my attention that what I valued the most about El Prado was the ear of one of the Velázquez’s Las Hilanderas … since then, every time I see that painting, I can’t help looking and looking at that ear …
–Las Hilanderas of Velázquez is completely an extraordinary work, but in that ear, in that detail is reflected all the capacity for abstraction that Velázquez has, in which emotion, sensuality and atmosphere merge … there the painting disappears to give way to emotion. I give you another key for when you return to El Prado; look at the eyes of those portrayed by Velázquez. If you look at them chronologically, in the first portraits the eyes are perfectly modeled. It is almost a corporeal sculpture and little by little that corporeity is fading, the detail is lost until reaching a moment in which the brushstrokes are deformed until the eye disappears to meet the gaze.
-You have lived in different parts of Spain and have made more than 200 individual exhibitions and as many collective exhibitions, with which you have traveled all over the planet, what did you find in Benalmádena to decide to locate your residence here?
-I fall in love
-To finish, what do you think of the current art scene?
-It is interesting that art evolves, breaks barriers and discovers new challenges. Street art – urban art -, performance, conceptual art, happening… I am very interested in it because it widens the margins in which we move. I am very interested in it and I follow it. In recent years, when I go to the great art fairs, rather than to see work by work, I will experience the environment and let myself be influenced by the atmosphere..