Focused on abstraction and challenging the realistic language of photography, we can say that Alejandra Gandía-Blasco’s work is just a pretext to talk about life’s transience and the limits of time. How to reach the right place and time? How to explain that precise moment through color? For this multidisciplinary artist there is a great desire to take the viewer, either through art or design, towards a more spontaneous and emotional terrain.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR WORK?
I don’t know. It is a way of materializing natural light, which is never the same, at very specific times of the day and in exact locations, the punctum in “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthes or in “On Photography” by Susan Sontag, I like it because I don’t manipulate the process, part of reality, submerged in the weather circumstances and the sea’s state. For me it is proof that art expresses life, it flows, and Nature is life in its purest state, we are connected with her. Days are born and die as we will. Although it appears to be joyful and vital, my work is quite nostalgic, feelings that I encounter when I portray elderly people whose lives are ending.
If I dare to define my work, it could be something like abstract expressionism of the landscape genre or a kind of photography archive but in a pictorial key, since my work is made up of different series taken in various locations, in different cities and countries with different horizons. No idea.
If you allow me, I generally feel very uncomfortable around labels. They want to know what you do, how you do it, and what you are without focusing on the quality of the work, the sensations it transmits, and the background. I was recently reading that postmodernism is dead, as in 2006 the art critic Donald Kuspit argued “The end of art”, well I don’t know. The typical thing is that people ask you, are you a painter, sculptor, new media, influencer, decorator…? or what do you do? Saying that you are a conceptual artist fits very well nowadays, it is a bag where everything fits. I don’t take gimmicky fashions seriously, there is a lack of authenticity in art. Most of the gallery owners are another story, very involved with the art market, but beware that they are not businessmen, they live by and for art, yes. But as soon as you are the daughter of a businessman, you work in your father’s company, in my case in the design world, you have access to payroll, and you dedicate yourself to art in your free time, they now believe that it is just a whim or you want to be a decorator.
And then they say, “Well, this photo of yours would look great with the velvety burgundy sofa in this millionaire soccer player’s house that I’m decorating. But you better change it to this and that or turn it into an NFT. I made these paintings that, as you can see, combine in every detail, even with the gold trim.”
IT WOULD ALSO BE AN UNFEASIBLE PATH BECAUSE OF THE CONTEMPLATIVE AND SPONTANEOUS NATURE OF YOUR WORK. DOES IT ALSO SPEAK ABOUT YOU OR ONLY ABOUT WHAT SURROUNDS YOU?
I’ve been analyzing myself these years and it does speak about me, the infinity of color, which is light, time, and space. Is a way of understanding the complex world of emotions that perpetuate us. I started drawing portraits of older people in whom the passage of time is perceived, their life is their face, and I think it was a way of understanding human psychology almost always dominated by emotion, rational and irrational. I find myself constantly coming back to these themes through drawing or photography, media of expression that are not considered the seventh art. Drawing; considered part of the process before the pictorial act hidden behind pigments. And photography; considered an art since –maybe the 1970s? Although it is an artistic representation because it expresses personal visions, no one would take the same photograph even though the photographed subject was the same.
To make art I like to take a medium that is used massively. I capture reality, a moment of light in a specific and changing space such as sea waves or desert dunes, which no longer will repeat themselves and disappear in a matter of seconds, something as small as life itself. How long do a sunrise and sunset last? They are the day’s first and last breath.
WOULD YOU SAY THERE’S A PARALLELISM BETWEEN THE USE OF COLOR IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC AND PRODUCT DESIGN WORK?
Not directly. I used to be a quiet little girl who spent her time drawing. Later I studied fine arts but I wasn’t interested in anything in particular, only theoretical classes and driving my painting teacher crazy because there was no way I was going to finish the still lifes…I was too analytical. Spent my time mixing pigments on the wooden palette, which I then changed to a white one to see them better. In this process I discovered that color is alive and continually transformed, I was not interested in fixing it on the canvas. At the age of 14 I began to experiment with landscape photography and through it, at the age of 30, with my technique, I discovered the meaning of art or life, which is the same. My photographic work is very personal and random, I do not fully control it. It is subject to the natural weather conditions that I portray in each series, in each place.
AND INSPIRED BY WHOM?
I have to say that I adore the light and color of El Greco as much as the tenebrism and chiaroscuro of Rembrandt and Goya, Francisco de Goya’s Half-Sunken Dog, and the animist portraits of Lucian Freud. I also adore Marianne von Werefkin (there are few female artists that we study in art history, a history written by men), the lightness and musicality of the work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Kazimir Malevich and the end of painting, Ives Klein with John Cage, Lucio’s spatial painting Fontana, Rothko’s color fields, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s solemnity… I could name many great masters.
That said, my artistic work does allow me to experiment with the colors I capture and translate them into chromatons to make a handmade rug with a complex technical sheet or to select the most suitable pigments for some printed glass tables.
I DON’T KNOW IF SOCIETY IS AWARE OF HOW DIFFERENT COLORS AFFECT OUR BRAINS.
I don’t know either, but apparently, on an unconscious level, they affect much more than we think. Since we are born we are surrounded by colors, and without natural light, they do not exist, therefore it could be said that they are fictitious but real and I love that because art is the same. The most incredible thing is that we perceive color thanks to the nature of the sun or fire, and until a few centuries ago, thanks to electricity’s development with light bulbs that imitate it. Colors are so subtle and infinite that not all of us perceive the same ones, and that which stimulates our mind and creativity, the same thing happens with music. Vasili Kandinsky portrays it very well in “Of the spiritual in art”. I have read several books on this subject and several authors argue that the colors most loved by people are usually blue for the sky, green and earth for the forests that surround us, and also the neutral colors that are born of light, white. I loved how Michel Pastoureau narrated it in “The colors of our memories”.
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR SPACE, THE SPACE YOU LOVE?
I like silence accompanied by some tone or semitone of color: off-white with a touch of orange, wood color, sensations that connect us with nature, with ourselves. I like to remember that we are rational animals stubborn in wanting to dominate Nature when it has been verified and finally assumed that it is not entirely like that. I recently read that thanks to the Sumerians, critical philosophy was born in response to the hundreds of natural catastrophes that Mesopotamia suffered, which is ultimately questioning things, surviving in the face of adversity, learning to think for yourself, and avoiding noise and everything that clashes around you.