After two years of preparation and during which the French gallery, Le Feuvre, has presented Sixe Paredes’ work, Thursday, September 24th (tomorrow) will see the first solo exhibition by the Barcelona artist on French soils ‘Danza Ritual‘. It’s a much awaited show that unites his latest canvases, prints, and ceramics at Le Feuvre, and gathers the pinnacle of Sixe’s artistic development during recent years.
‘In his work, his personal experience comes together with landscape and urban melancholy, and his concern for the problems arising in society’s evolution, and in the conscience of its inhabitants. In recent years his investigation has been focused on Andean and Mesoamerican cultures, and their fluid colours, wisdom, and mysticism.’ Le Feuvre
In the sixth issue of Mincho Magazine, a publication about art and illustration, an interview conducted by Montana Colors (photos by Laura Rodellas) with Sixe Paredes is featured and below we will share it with you in all its entirety. In the interview, aside from helping us in understanding the complexity of the apparently simple abstraction of his work, he speaks to us of the progress that MTN Water Based 300 has made as an artistic tool in his works.
-Sixe: I worked for two years on the show at Somerset House in London because I wanted it to be something totally different to what I’d been doing up until then. The biggest change was that there wasn’t a single canvas. Usually in my exhibitions there’s always canvases, but in this case I wanted to eliminate this format in order to work with new materials and new techniques. I did some ceramics, tapestries, and video art with totemic sculptures and exterior installations. It was a totally different concept to what I had been doing up until that time but at the same time, there was still a common thread with all of the work from up until then.
In the exhibition that you did in Madrid at Casa América you did a similar show didn’t you?
The Casa América exhibition in 2012 was the second show in which I’d started developing these ancestral and primitive concepts through a new, contemporary view.
Since seven years ago, from the time I traveled to Peru for the first time, I became fascinated by civilizations that developed over time, and in a way, that changed the concepts and ways of understanding my work. I could see that in some ways my work already possessed the essence of ancient man.
And it so happens that almost from the beginning your work had a lot of connections with primitive painting and its animal characters…
In some way my work already had that essence but I hadn’t noticed it. Traveling to that place opened my eyes and made me see the connection with this ancient, primordial world.
Because of the colours too?
I think there’s also some relation with the colours.
Tell us a bit about the installation set up at Somerset…
The set up for this show lasted close to a month. It’s one of the biggest solo shows I’ve done in my whole life. I had the pleasure of being invited to take part in the first project by Approved by Pablo, and to work with a great team, great logistics to be able to organize the exhibition, some of them being close friends of mine like, Nano4814, Eltono, Pablo Limón, and Lucas (Savvy Studio).
How was it received in a city like London?
London has great archeological museums. There is a strong passion for ancestral cultures. I think it was very well received. I also suppose that the public expected to see some of my traditional work and they were confronted by something that was related to it, but totally different. I have to say that the place where I did the exhibition is 400 years old and there was an energy there that was consistent with the exhibition. I think it was a great success, also because it wasn’t just another painting exhibition; there were paralleled themes like cinema with Peruvian culture, its gastronomy, conferences, poetry, music, etc.
What can you tell us about the process of creating your works?
There was a part of the exhibition that I produced in Peru and another in Barcelona. For the ceramic pieces for example, I was in Nazca working with the teacher, Zenón Gallegos, who belongs to a family with a long tradition of ceramic making with the ancient technique of the Nazca people. In the case of the tapestries I designed them myself and was in San Pedro de Cajas working with the teacher, Luis Nesquin, in a weaving town six hours away from Lima by car. The other part I did in Barcelona, having brought 40 kg of hand dyed sheep wool which I used to do the backsides of the tapestries in order to represent the union of two worlds. The one here and the one over there. The ancestral and the contemporary. From there came the title, “Ancestral Futurism”; the union of two worlds.
The rest of the pieces were done in my studio in Barcelona.
What about the more pictorial part?
In the pictorial part of the exhibition I painted a mural on the arches of the room of one of my work series titled, FUTURISMO PRIMITIVO. This series talks about the altered states of consciousness that some of the teachers or shamans went through in there mystical journeys. Its a way of dematerializing my figurative work and introducing me to abstraction. For several years now I’ve been working on this series to enrich myself with new languages.
There are some things in common with ancestral cultures regarding symbology isn’t there?
Yes. At first I was inspired by pre-Hispanic cultures in Peru, before the Incas conquered the whole Tahuantinsuyo, there were great civilizations, some of the outstanding ones being: Nazca, Chachapoyas, Chimú, Mochicas, Wari, etc. And in my research I was noticing other great cultures that had a lot of connections between them; in many, in their myths and legends, as well as in their countless symbols that are similar all over the world in the way that they are constructed, and surely linked through a global consciousness.
But, without a doubt one of the most striking examples for me is the mythical story of the universal flood that many cultures around the world talked about.
In Europe, much of the culture that was around before Christianity was destroyed. Over there I imagine that a lot of information was lost because of the conquest by the West…
The Catholic church destroyed part of their history, but today the cultures are returning to their primal essence, like a process where everything that is below is rising to the top again. They are resuming their rites and their entire worldview that unites them with Mother Earth.
But are they still Christians?
I think some are, but I also think that there must be communities the prioritize their ancestral identity more.
Regarding technique, do you only use a paint brush?
Previously, yes. I didn’t use spray paint because on canvas the paint cracks over time. But this new MTN Water Based paint makes it possible for you to paint with spray paint and then with paint brush on top, without it cracking later. The most fantastic thing about this new product is that you can do effects that you can’t do with a brush: fades, drips… techniques that belong to the graffiti world can be applied to a canvas without ruining the painting over time. Using spray paint effects is thrilling because it’s the origin of my painting, and part of my identity as an artist.
You talked about everything that’s below rising to the top again…has anything similar happened to you with spray paint since it was a tool that was key to your beginnings?
Yes, something like that, because I didn’t use spray paint in my paintings and now I can do it. So you could say that there’s a parallel there.
Have you tried the spray paint in the studio too?
Yes. On the large format works for example, I’ve used it mixed with other materials as well as on paper and other surfaces. I think it’s a new material that opens up endless possibilities for working.
Is using spray paint nostalgic for you?
No, because I still paint in the streets. I still do big murals so it’s something I haven’t forgotten. Inside a studio I had forgotten what it was like to use spray paint, but with this new material I’m giving it another shot.
What reference do you have when choosing colours?
I work with a very personal color range that I’ve acquired over the years. I really like the colours on the wipala flag right now, but there are many things that influence my daily life when choosing colours.
The topic of precision in your lines is also an aspect worth talking about.
When I began painting graffiti I was already using straight lines and curves a lot. It was something that characterized me. So in that sense the perfection of the line has continued to be a very important part in my work. With a paint brush it’s also easy to get this precision for me, and I think it’s one of my characteristics.
There’s also importance in the details…
Yes, the basis for my characters is always very organic, but I build upon that in new linear layers called, circuits, to break the 2d plane and make it three dimensional. If they didn’t have those details the paintings would be empty. They create a new vision. For example, right now my characters don’t have eyes, and many of them aren’t front facing, but back facing or sideways. I don’t want them to look at you, but for you to look at them. So, the circuits cause people to interpret something different although the idea is obvious. That way the viewers can take them to another dimension that I can’t even see.
Did you do any shows in South America?
I collaborated with an association against cancer and did a collaboration about a person who was cured after some medication and therapy. Through that, I did a sculpture that was exhibited in different places around Lima.
Seeing the installation you did in the desert it occurred to me to ask you who your art is directed at? Do you have the necessity to communicate with the public or is it just self expression?
I think a bit of both. One does things primarily for oneself, but they are also doing them for people who will seem them. These installations I did in Peru were done in places where nobody would see them. It wasn’t like painting a piece in the city and everyone being able to see it.
The concept of OFRENDA CELESTE was to do totemic installations in empty places; a way of interacting with these types of spaces which generally aren’t highly visited places yet provoke astonishment in people that might get to se them because they can’t understand how they got there. We did one in the Nazca desert and another in Pachacamac near one of the most important archaeological centres near Peru’s capital.
Does this have anything to do with the Nazca lines that can only be seen from aerial view?
No, for me it’s an offering to the Cosmos.
Nothing to do with aliens…
It wasn’t aliens. The so-called Nazca lines are actually sacred paths on which they did their rituals. But there’s also hundreds of theories of all kinds, some of them crazy in my opinion.
In your paintings there’s so many details that a person viewing them probably can’t assimilate the entire composition…
Quite possible, my canvases have a lot of layers of information that interact with one another, and I think an uneasiness arises in those viewing them, causing them to need to take a break to be able to absorb all the information embodied within.
The feeling I get when I examine the works is that when you observe them in parts, you discover other new parts, thanks to the confinement of colours and above all, the details.
That’s what I’m looking for, infinite dimensions and overexposures that generate different planes of the canvas; like a world within another world.