Interview: Fernando Velazquez

Interview: Fernando Velazquez
Image courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

Interview: Fernando Velazquez

Luca Curci talks with the artist Fernando Velazquez during CONSCIOUSNESS of ANIMA MUNDI festival 2017 in VENICE.

Fernando Velazquez was born in Seville in 1966. He began his formation as an artist in the late 1980’s. After spending a year in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Fernando moved to London in 1996 where he worked in his studio in Hackney until 2000, later moving to Dorset where he currently lives and works. As a self-taught artist, Fernando has developed a remarkable personal language, evident in his series “Paintings of the Floating World”, “Through the Veil” and recently “Cave Paintings of our Time”. Velazquez has exhibited individually in London, New York and Madrid and has participated in many collective exhibitions throughout Europe and America, in addition to his presence at numerous international art fairs. He has also collaborated in a number of prestigious events such as The Ormeley Dinner, The Ecology Trust, The Aspinall Foundation and “Tusk Modern Art Auction“in London. Fernando has received a number of commissions from private and public collections, including the Rosenberg & Kaufman Gallery in New York, for which he produced a monumental piece in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the birth of the iconic American composer, George Crumb, a collaboration with ICE (The International Contemporary Ensemble) at Symphony Space in Manhattan. “My work is a consequence of the anxiety to understand the world around me while trying to respond to the immense and endless current of our imagination. I paint to express the brutality and the beauty of life as I see it. I do not paint what I know, nor do I search perfection…For me painting is revolution, epiphany and light within darkness. Art for me, emerges from beauty, any kind of beauty that floods our senses, irrepressibly and inexplicably”.

 

Interview: Fernando VelazquezImage courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

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Luca Curci – Has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?

Fernando Velazquez The piece I have presented was created for the exhibition as a response to the theme “Consciousness”. The painting is a landscape transformed by paint itself, to become an abstract composition where the building that vaguely appears on the canvas, has been engulfed by texture and movement. In this case, representation has become secondary to imagination. As a painter, I constantly reflect upon what we see and feel, the visual and the invisible.

 

L.C. – Please tell me what are you working on right now…

F.V. – Currently, I am reflecting on the effect of light upon form and within abstract spaces. I see the canvas as a complete and independent universe where the artist’s personal language can communicate unique responses to life itself. I am also exploring the possibility of incorporating video creations into some of my paintings for a specific project, merging the two media into a way of interpreting moving images and painting.

 

Interview: Fernando VelazquezImage courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

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L.C. – What is art for you?

F.V. – Art is one of the centres of gravity in my life and a crucial tool for understanding, but as I progress in my career as a painter, I realise that art follows a unique logic leading to a different kind of perception that constantly updates the way we understand the human condition. For me, art is a way of articulating hidden layers of timeless information about ourselves and the world around us.

 

Interview: Fernando VelazquezImage courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

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L.C. – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?

F.V. – I am completely self-taught, which in many ways means isolation, but it also suggests a genuine origin; the need to find a way of expressing complex emotions that comes from within. My art is no doubt influenced by the vision of other artists but it is born from the need to say something about the experience of my own life, its journey, joy and darkness. I love so many paintings and admire many artists. I learn about elements that don’t connect with what truly engages me, and I respond to those which resonate with my life. Rembrandt makes me reflect quietly, Bacon shouts from chaos, Turner talks to me about light, Munch, Ensor and Nolde make the ground around me shake, as Modigliani and Soutine stir my emotions. I learn from the order of the Italian Renaissance, the excitement of French romanticism, and the silence of Rothko. Friedrich invites me to listen to the sounds of other worlds… Art never fails to move me deeply, towards simple but far reaching questions about life and the absence of it.

 

Interview: Fernando VelazquezImage courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

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L.C. – What role does the artist have in society?

F.V. – The art market has done a lot of damage to art itself in my opinion. There exists a confusion regarding quality, legitimacy and value, to the point of distracting many creators from the real business of producing art. I feel myself sometimes battling within the shadows of becoming successful in a society that I don´t really understand, or failing in the art world that I cannot access, when in fact, the only possible failure for a true artist is not being able to respond with total honesty and freedom to their vision. An artist today should be free from the tyranny of being current or not, inside or outside the art world. I believe that there is room for an art that comes from a more direct expression of who we are as people, beyond mere manipulations of images, inventors of trends or self-centred observers of a fleeting society.

 

Interview: Fernando Velazquez
Image courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

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L.C. – What is your creative process like?

F.V. – A painter, as I see it, is constantly thinking, studying, revising and learning, and the act of painting is the last stage in that initial process. From this point on, another wonderful stage starts where true art can find its way into a painting. An empty canvas is never empty and my work consists of unveiling what is there already. Mind and imagination work together to try to give form to emotions. Sometimes I immerse myself in the actual making of the painting, responding to every element as it develops, whilst sometimes I have a clearer vision of the composition and the theme. I never follow a determined design as I truly enjoy a fresh approach to the creative process. I rarely do sketches or previous work in preparation for the final piece, and photography is merely a tool for capturing in my mind something that impressed me. After provisionally completing a painting, I look and look again until everything clicks together, usually an agonising process in a never ending search for the ultimate piece.

 

Interview: Fernando VelazquezImage courtesy of Fernando Velazquez

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L.C. – What do you think about It’s LIQUID Platform?

F.V. – I think that “It`s Liquid” offers a genuine and real opportunity for artists to collaborate in thought provoking projects. I particularly value curated exhibitions that explore timeless themes and the international projection of events. The combination of physical exhibitions and the digital promotion of our work is particularly meaningful to me as a painter. It´s Liquid seems to be a dynamic, diverse and progressive platform, a meaningful and necessary contribution to the art world of today.

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