Interview with the spanish painter Alejandro Cabeza / 2014

"Interview with Alejandro Cabeza: Art and Communication" awarded to the artist and editor Anton psak and originally published in English / 2014

OA: What is your favorite film of all time?
AC: Even if it seems weird. I always come back to black and white. If I had to choose a cinematic figure who arouses in me the deepest admiration, no doubt I would pick Chaplin. I understand his critical sense of humor very well. If I were forced to choose only one of his films it would be very difficult... Perhaps Monsieur Verdoux. Overall I am a big fan of historical, thrillers and science fictions films; but I certainly enjoy any good film regardless of the genre to which it ascribes. As I noted in an interview before a genre that inspires me especially from the professional point of view is the western, by the widespread prevalence of landscapes. I also appreciate movies with a neat soundtrack; for me, music is important. Among the movies I've seen recently, and lately I don't find so many films per year that excite me, I would recommend All is lost, because of the message and Robert Redford's interpretation.

OA: What music are you currently listening to and why?
AC: In general I like all kinds of music. I think each style has to have their space and time: dance music, music to remember, inspirational music... But I can not deny that for me classical music occupies a special place: From Albeniz to Beethoven through many others. I have often painted accompanied by her. Somehow you may consider me as a frustrated musician. I only studied one year at the conservatory, because I quickly realized that it would have been impossible to develop total commitment at a serious level with two professional careers as demanding as painting and music. But certainly I would have liked to compose. Composing and playing the piano properly. I also enjoy jazz greatly and contemporary music soloists. I don't despise rock, pop, funk or any other genre really.

OA: Which living artists do you most admire and why?
AC: I admire all figurative artists who develop serious work today; all those who are really committed to painting, the ones who really respect, live and feel it. I do not like at all the artificial and contrived: which, and this appears to be anything but unfashionable, intends to impact or even offend the sensibilities of the viewer with the sole purpose of drawing attention; those who strip the art of its content and only assess the shape and the alleged originality and think everything goes in order to achieve their ends. Purposes, on the other hand, that rarely contemplated evolution or growth, learning as an author. Because, among other things, once the schemes are created, these artists often become awfully repetitive. I sincerely believe that this type of approach to art, in addition to turn it into a fully commercial thing, degrades, prostitute and adulterate it. And I respect the art and the artists: I have dedicated my life to the first one, and from the artists I have tried to learn and I still do, and I want to leave them with the little things good about my painting that might be.

OA: Which deceased artist do you most admire and why?
AC: Since I live in Spain, I'll start with the Spanish School, from Velázquez to Francisco de Goya and many others than came after them, well into the twentieth century. I could not do without the Italian school, from Leonardo da Vinci to Giovanni Boldini. I really like the Dutch school, from Rembrandt to Vermeer Johannes, and the English one, from Thomas Lawrence to William Turner- who by they way, I'm very excited to watch the movie about him which is just being released-. I especially admire Philip Alexius de László from Hungary and Anders Zorn from Sweden, for example. The list would be endless because there have been so many wonderful painters throughout history, and they all have been a school for me. I appreciate the refined techniques, impeccable performances, good use of color and light. On the other hand, although I have also made landscapes, I think of myself primarily as a portraitist. These two factors probably explain largely my preferences within the art world.

OA: Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
 AC: The Velazquez one which was held in Madrid in El Prado, in 1990. Or the one about Joaquín Sorolla organized by the Hispanic Society of America in Valencia in 2009. In both cases I already knew plenty of the pieces in the exposition, but to observe them in person and, especially, as a whole was overwhelming. I think Velázquez and Sorolla are two excellent examples of a strong and coherent career, excellent training and an enormous capacity for work, and a serious commitment to art

OA: What is the question you get asked most frequently about your work and how do you answer it?
AC: More than a question, I hear very often a comment when it comes to my marinas: "looks like a Sorolla". The critics themselves have resorted to the similarities between a part of my artistic production and those of the master. Obviously I take it as a compliment, but the truth is that my paintings have little to do with the arguments treated by him. I think the association of ideas in the viewer is given only by the treatment of light that can be seen in my landscapes. Thinking about it, it is only natural; we are both from Valencia and we both have painted the Mediterranean sea. But largely this argument reflects a topic. My portraits, for example, tend to be much darker. And is still me the one who paints. Another recurring ideas that I face is that I'm dead, I am to be a painter of another century. It does not bother me; I observe more general devotion to the art in the past than in the present.

OA: What / who inspired you to be an artist?
AC: I started quite young, when I was a child. Therefore it is very difficult to establish a specific event that marked a before and after. I think there was always a predisposition on me. Of course no one served as a guide or as an impulse: My family isn't at all a family of artists. However, as soon I saw the first painting I felt the need to assume the challenge: would I be able to paint something? And since then, though it's been thirty years, I have not lost the passion or desire to learn and improve. Currently what inspire me daily are thoughts, reality, people, literature, museums...

OA: Can you tell us about where you make your art and what if any the significance of this location is?
AC: I usually always paint over an old bridge, but the place is not so important. In recent years I have repeatedly changed places and this has not affected my work negatively. I believe that the painter must be in

good measure a nomadic creature and painted in many different and distant places. That way you will accumulate more experiences that will surely enrich your technique, and you will also learn to appreciate more your peers and the human and cultural diversity they hide within them. What really concerns me is how to do those pictures, no where.

OA: What do you like most about being an artist?
AC: To create, to enjoy the freedom of painting what I want and on the way that I want to. Also the opportunity to learn to paint better with every painting and with the study of the existing art: to access secrets that are available to very few, because in effect they require considerable effort. Besides this profession allows me to concentrate harder on my main muse, the one who inspires me the most, my wife. To share my profession with my partner is something that greatly satisfies me.

OA: What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
AC: Each year I set new goals for myself, it is important to don't lose enthusiasm for the profession. I'd say my main achievement is to keep learning and painting a lot every day. But since I get that you mean something else, I imagine that my greatest successes are having my works in museums, institutions and public schools in Spain. Also to have a large amount of my works distributed in various countries, from Argentina to Finland, both in private collections and on institutions. One of my latest satisfactions, one of the largest in fact, has been to see a portrait painted by me hanging in one of the halls of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language headquarters in Madrid. There it will remain as it has become part of the background. This is a portrait of the illustrious writer and Spanish language academic Doña Ana María Matute, who died this year. I think that I'm especially moved by this work being in the proper place: she is still among those who loved and admired her. At the time it was also a great thrill to see my book Luz Valenciana published in 2001, when I was 30 years old. Currently I consider it a privilege to continue painting personalities from the world of culture and particularly of literature.

OA: What are your plans for the coming year?
AC: For starters, I have plans to make some portraits of important figures in the world of culture that will swell an already extensive personal collection. Of course I will continue with the series of portraits of the writer Salome Guadalupe Ingelmo, currently composed of twenty works but certainly this number will end up being far more high. I have also committed to the portrait of the poet who wins the next edition, and the ninth, of the International Literature Contest "Angel Ganivet" which convenes in Finland. Also a major Colombian institution is going to illustrate a book of fiction and poetry with some of my paintings. Above all, above anything else, my plans for the upcoming year are to continue painting with the same passion I had as a teenager. To work constantly and to keep discovering the greatness of painting.