Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Art Space Talk: Javier Albar

Javier Albar is an artist from Madrid, Spain. Javier produces abstract pieces with a restrained and subtle palette. Circles, jagged lines and solid masses of black create compelling designs of powerful presence. Javier combines printing (woodcut, xylography, lithography and plastic) and painting on canvas with mix spray and acrylic colors. He explores the essence of his being by meshing organic and geometric shapes together.

Munsterland, 2007, woodcut and lithography, 70 x 50 cm.
Brian Sherwin: Javier, can you tell us about your early years? Can you recall any experiences from your youth that impacted your decision to pursue art as an adult?

Javier Albar: I've been drawing for as long as I can remember, and always wanted to work on something creative. I was not very content during the time that I worked as an interior architect even though it was creative work... I always felt a desire to express creativity more freely. I was 28 when I made the big decision to change my direction. Since then my life has changed completely.

BS: Javier, tell us about your academic background. Where did you study? Who were your instructors? How did your work mature during those years under that guidance?

JA: I started studying interior design at age 20. For 8 years I worked as an interior architect while struggling with the need for having more freedom with my creativity. While working on interior design, I was recommended to go to Brita Prinz Gallery workshop. It was there that I discovered the joy of xylography and met Eloisa Gil Pena. She showed me a new world. Three years later, I studied fine art at the University of Aranjuez, Madrid under very influential instructors.

While attending the university, I worked independently, parallel with the school work, to develop my unique style and to reach my artistic maturity. The University of Fine Arts has given me more practical resources and theoretical training, but the real essence of my art is self taught.
Huella Efimera, 2006, lithography and woodcut, 76 x 50 cm.

BS: You are from Madrid , Spain ... does your cultural background play a part in your work?

JA: My work has a universal cultural background, and I do not identify with typical Spanish culture. I am inspired by-- and identify with --the essence of works from other artists, my own life experiences, the culture of cities and countries where I have traveled, and the marks left by the people with whom I have related... the magic of life.

BS: Javier, you are interested in organic and geometric abstraction. In these works you deal with themes of architectural deconstruction and you utilize circular shapes as a form of transition between the organic and the geometric. Can you go into further detail about these these works-- the thoughts behind them?

JA: My abstractions stemmed from a book of drawings of dinosaurs bones. From it I invented my own drawing of bones and created compositions with them. I then drew lines on the transparent papers as if they were architectural plans, and transferred them onto wooden planks. My work combines the influence of interior architecture and the shapes of vegetation and organic materials.
A professor of art history once said to me that the organic and geometric were not compatible-- I thought a lot about this and came up with a solution that using circles would be the best transition between the two. I started experimenting by deconstructing forms and creating the connections in poetics forms, emotional and intuitive.

With it appeared in my work, what seem to be maps of invented cities, aerial views of cities lit at night, man made mechanisms, and textures controlled and uncontrolled. I call these textures skins of memories of thoughts.

Organicirculo del Deseo, 2006, woodcut, 78 x 54 cm.
BS: In your use of geometry you do not wish to follow a mathematical calculation. Instead, you adhere to an intuitive and emotional use of geometric forms. Can you go into further detail about this? In your opinion, why do these forms 'speak'?

JA: I drew circles intuitively to create compositions. I discovered that the circle I drew intuitively were connecting randomly at one point. I call this the 'hidden connections'. The precision in their connections were incredible. Then I realized that my art was a reflection of my life. A circle represented me and the other circles represented people in my life whom I have interacted with and the way the circles connected was the connection I had with others. I felt pure magic.

BS: As you have mentioned, you discovered xylography at the Brita Prinz Gallery workshops... and that the knowledge of this technique influenced you greatly. For those who don't know, can you tell us about xylography? Also, why did learning about xylography change your artistic direction?

JA: Since I had discovered xylography while I was working in interior architecture, drawing many compositions of architectural plans, my xylography work is heavily influenced by architecture. This makes my work very different from the work of others. I felt very fortunate being able to incorporate what I was already doing into a new form of art and to become more expressive... free.
Organicirculo Marino, 2006, woodcut, 70 x 70 cm.

BS: Javier, can you tell us more about the process of xylography-- how you use it?

JA: I've discovered my own method in working with wood based in the need of satisfying my desire to express myself. I first do line drawings on 4mm Okumen wood. I then cut the pieces with a cutter. This requires experienced precision. Using the pieces, I superimpose the shapes using a stamping method. Transparent inks are used to create different values and sometimes colors.

BS: Javier, you are open to experimentation in your work. You now incorporate new techniques combined with xylography, such as lithography and more recently the matrix of a type of plastic called Arraglás, playing with new resources such as sanded circles, and the atmospheric scratched backgrounds. Why is experimentation important to you as an artist?

JA: For awhile, I have been incorporating a less perfect and uncontrolled style with the more controlled work done previously in an attempt to link the idea of understanding what can and cannot be controlled in our lives. I am also experimenting with stamping on fabrics with hair like fibers, such as corduroy, velvet, ...etc. This method of stamping black ink on black fabric or tone on tone, played with the way the light is reflected. The direction the hair is laid invites the viewer to reconstruct the images with his movements and imagination. The work appears minimal, but it seduces the viewer to discover what's hidden within. Some are very atmospherically trapping. This series was inspired by my dreams at night... the traces and tales of people who stay within my thoughts and dreams without physical presence in my life.

Organicirculo Omunculo, 2006, woodcut, 106 x 75 cm.

BS: Javier, aside from the use of the circle... is there any other form of symbolism in your work? Do certain colors mean different things to you? If so, tell us about the symbolism of your work.

JA: The organic forms are very personal. A section of an earlier design is often used to create an evolutionary continuity. This is done with the concept of earlier design being the seed to sprout a new design that grows and branches out to different directions. This forces some of the elements and shapes of my art to reappear-- though I try not to repeat images. I am very critical of my works and always wish to be surprised by them.

BS: What else has influenced your work? Do you find inspiration in the work of other artists?

JA: At first I looked for inspiration in other artists by reviewing their work in great depth. Some of those artists are-- Chillida, Saura, Tapies, Goya, Kupka, Pollock, Rothko, Egon Schiele and many others. I also looked for inspirations in form by architects like Zaha Hadid, Calatraba, Frank Gehry. All these artists have left a essence in me, which I incorporate into my work. But now I am also finding my inspirations in nature, fractals and everything else that I find surprising in life.

BS: Javier, I understand that you are an educator as well. Where have you taught? Can you tell us about that experience and how it influences your personal work?

JA: I have some teaching experience. I have been one of the instructors of master art prints at the CIEC Foundation (www.fundacionciec.com) in the city of La Coruna in Spain, where I've taught my technique in wood engraving. I have also taught classes at the University of Fine Arts in Madrid. I am currently doing research with a grant from the Ministry of Education and Science of Spain to make a doctoral thesis. However, teaching is not my primary intention. I wish to work in a field that leaves me time to create. Life puts the thought in our sight.

BS: What advice do you have for art students?

JA: The first and foremost important thing I want to say to them is to work hard towards achieving a goal. One should broaden his knowledge and mature in art by traveling and seeing and experiencing with his own skin, while staying open minded to different ways and cultures. An art student needs to come to the realization of all things within himself-- in his own time and own place.

Organicirculo Conexion Oculta, 2006, woodcut, 100 x 70 cm.
BS: Do you have any exhibits planned for 2008?

JA: This January I am exhibiting in the city of Móstotes near Madrid after having exhibited in Münster, Germany and London in recent months. In May and June I will exhibit with other Spanish graphic artists in the gallery Arthaus66 (www.arthaus66.com) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, and again in Münster Germany

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your work?

JA: My goal is to live an exciting and incredible life full of surprises. I feel fortunate to do art. Through art, my life has become very exciting and I've met many wonderful people. Art has made my life magical and brought me many surprises.
Javier Albar is a member of the www.myartspace.com community, login ID-- aranjuez. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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