jueves, 21 de julio de 2011

interview by Katrine Knauer


Cristina and I met when she was chosen to be one of the artists for the Relevant BCN Magazine’s show Pelat.Pelado.Skinned. in Barcelona, Spain. Later she also collaborated in a group show, 30.30.30., at Gracia Arts Project. She is an amazing illustrator as well as person.

Tell me about Badalona, the city where you were born, and how it influenced you as an artist.

I had always lived in the city centre, that is one of the most well communicated areas by all means. I lived a 5 minutes walk to the beach and to the train station, close to the city’s shopping and leisure centre. However, compared to Barcelona, this city has a village living rhythm. Life there was more calmed and relaxed. There are less people but you are also well known by them.

When I was a little girl I used to be bored because I went to a school in the city’s outskirts and my schoolmates were not from Badalona. When I started the highschool in the city centre, I was able to socialize with my class colleagues. However, Badalona didn’t fufill me like Barcelona, where I live now, does.

My ties with Badalona are my family and the beach. I have spent much time there. We are big beach lovers. My father had a boat and we used to spent time fishing and sailing. These memories are present in my drawings: domestic scenes, creatures diving in the water.....

I know that you are very close to both your grandparents, and that they both are prominent in a lot of your illustrations. Tell me more about how your grandmother and grandfather play a part in your artwork.

I adore them. My father died when I was five years old and my mother, who was thirty three, had to carry on and started to take care of his photographic studio. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents while my mother worked to maintain us.

They raised me like a daughter, like they did with my older sister. They are two pleasant, nice, kind, generous, funny human beings, they give you everything. My grandpa is very clever, curious, sociable and he has a very ironic sense of humor. My grandma is sweet, protective and very kind. They are an example as a couple, they have been married for more than 50 years and even they might have their disagreements, their relationship is based on respect, faithfulness and protection.
My grandparents  pass on a lot of positive energy and above all, they give love without expecting anything in return. This is something that I have learnt from them. They are my idols.

The tenderness they inspire in me has been manifested in some of my drawings. For example, in some moments in my life that I have felt sad, I would turn to beautiful childhood memories feeling protected in my grandparents arms.

I know that your mother is a photographer, and that your father was as well. Did you ever experiment with photography?

Eventhough I have grown up with a lot of photography at home, I must admit that I don’t act like a photographers’ daughter. I am quite lazy at the time to get a camera, because the photographic process seems very complex to me. You really have to like it and give it a lot of time and patience. However, I like the collage and photo-montage. I have not worked a lot with this technique, but I have done my own little “domestic experiments” to have fun. I like to appropriate images from the press or magazines and give them another idea or story.

When did you start to do illustrations?

It was almost four years ago when I felt the need to express myself artistically in a therapeutic and renewing way. I was going through a bad moment and I started illustrating in small paper formats with watercolour and indian ink. I let out everything I could feel. I feel comfortable with illustration but during all my life I have experimented with other techniques given that my passion for art motivated me as a little girl to take lessons in an art academy. In high school I chose the artistic bachelor and I learnt  sculpture, design, photography...when I graduated from high school, I lost some years of artistic practice but life all of a sudden makes you reunite with yourself and I started to create again.

I noticed that you have started using watercolor and wax in your pieces. What other sorts of mediums have you been experimenting with?

When I have an idea in mind I don’t stop until I can see it finished. Watercolour is a slow process, I did several trials but I was not happy with the results. I would like to continue experimenting with wax and other materials associated to it. Wax happened by chance. In the process of automatic work. I decided to drop hot wax on the paper and from the form that I had I created, I generated other forms and related beings. The result was fascinating. I gave expression to a living explosion of my world of dreams and delirium in a summer full moon night.

You spent time in Portugal, how did the country influence in your artwork?

Yes, I lived in Lisbon during ten months. It is one of those cities which has a special, magic and is full of energy atmosphere. It is a marvelous city to gaze upon from any of the viewpoints that surround it. The loads of roofs, “rues",  "castelo de sao jorge", April 25th bridge, river Tejo...  Lisbon was a place where all my five senses really awakened and everything the city offered me and the people I met were inspiring factors.

In Lisbon there is a constant and energetic artistic movement, every month there were music festivals, cinema, theatre...for example the independent cinema festival “Indie Lisboa”. Their cost was super economic and that was what motivated people to do things and get themselves some culture (something that is really necessary for humanity).

There are cultural cooperatives as well and they have created youth associations for young people who come from the artistic world. Some of them are "Bacalhoeiro" o el "CrewHassan". If you pay 8 euros (about $11) you get the partnership for the whole year and you could enjoy their constant  weekly cultural planing  cinema seasons on thrusdays, jazz concerts, poetry reading, art exhibitions. Besides they were settled inside old and typical buldings from the A més Alfama and Baixa-Chiado neighborhoods, which have a romantic and decadent vibe. Out of Lisbon I also travelled to its outskirts, especially the coast. The Atlantic sea presence could not go unnoticed.

I did one of these trips with my mother to Algarve, we visited “Cabo de Sao Vicente, the most occidental point from the south-west part of the peninsula. It shook me because I had a very mystic experience on the top of one of the cliffs, where the ground seemed to be cut like a cake and then the ocean invasion...I could feel the power of nature like in a Caspar David Friedrich picture. A sublime and admiration  feeling. I sat on a rock and my feet were swinging in the vacuum...Thinking about and realizing that we are water and that long time ago we came from there, although we move round the Earth thinking that we are superior and that we can dominate it...we should start regaining humility.

The contact with water is very present in my work as a ritual that give us life and makes us be reborn after death.

Sexuality is a common theme in your work. What do you want to express as a woman through your images?

Well, sexuality came at first because I needed to express the pain I was suffering after a love breakup. Bleeding breasts and vaginas, a terrifying and doubtful penis army, a couple biting their mouths...I turned to sex as a metaphor of a given mood. Although I must admit that I like drawing erotic and sexual scenes because of the aesthetic beauty they mean to me. As I said, I started using this topic as something painful but I also use it to share something so natural such as sex and cause a shared emotion with the spectator. I do not discard doing my own Kamasutra version just like other present artists like Sergio Mora have done.

I try to take my experiences and share it with everyone, by giving it an intimate but domestic connotation. The result is quite satisfactory, I exhibit some of my drawings in 2009 at Maumau Underground (www.maumauunderground.com) in Barcelona and it was curious how men and not women who told me that they have lived those experiences and that it was familiar to them. That gives you a gratifying sensation as an artist.

Which artists are your biggest influences?

It is difficult to answer this question. I did a degree on Art History because I like everything in art. I find it hard to tell you the artists who have influenced me because they have all given me something. I think I was very interested studying the Romantic Movement, when there developed the unconsciousness’ aesthetics that had a big impact in surrealism and other contemporary movements along the 20th Century.
My creation process is based on chance and I try to let me go and create being able to do whatever proposed but without being conscious that I can do it. If my drawings have something essential, it is due to them coming from a gift that I am lucky to have. I think you have to start from your own essence and do not let other movements or artists influence you. I try not to think and let my hands work in a free way through energies and emotions.

Have you collaborated with any artists? Are there any artists with whom you would like to collaborate?

I had the chance to exhibit with other young creators in an exhibition of illustration and drawing that organized Relevant Bcn magazine and at Maumau with an artist who works with acrylic inspired in the jazz world and the Afro-American culture, and two photographers. Of course, I would be interested in sharing and do projects with other artists, i have two plastic artist friends who thought about organizing an exhibition together, given that our work essence are somehow connected. It is a project that i would like to develop really soon and we are looking for a place to carry it out.

I know that you are currently working on a children’s book, what sort of challenges have you encountered as an artist doing this?

Well...this is another one of my projects. It came from a workshop that I took this year with Mariona Cabassa and Rebeca Luciani, two professional in the illustration world. One of the topics we worked had children between 3 and 6 years old as a target. More than a challenge to me it meant opening a new door that let me discover and had ideas through the things learnt in class and the work generated all around them.  I was going through a moment of mental block and I was in a phase when I had to think about the colour that I had to give to the images, given that I usually work with a monocromatic  range. Besides, I wanted to do something original that could be liked by kids, that was not boring and that close to my stile. So, at last, following the teacher’s advise, I took it as a game and I decided to experiment with crayons, acrylic paint and ink. I hope to finish it really soon and publish it.

Also, a big thank you to Meritxell Figueras for translating the interview.

with John Lennon and Snowhite