The artistic practice of Kepa Garraza is focused on the relationship between reality and fiction and in a world where we live not only in the real world but also in a virtual world (thanks to the Internet, social networks, etc.) so where the border line between these fields is really fleeting, his analysis is useful and original giving to painting a new life. On the occasion of the publication of the book Kepa Garraza I met the artist and talk with him about his recent and upcoming projects.
Your new book titled Kepa Garraza and published by Dardo includes the artworks related to 2 projects: Riot and Power. Did you have the need to collect together all the works of these projects because in some way you feel them over and then you wanted to store them in a book?
That’s it. Both projects were concluded in 2018, so it was the perfect time to collect them in a book. Since I always work in series, it’s easy for me to plan when to make this kind of publications. Both series are similar in an aesthetical way, even though their concepts are quite different. The link between them is related with the idea of authority representation throughout history, and its relation with crowd control and abuse of power in modern society. Along with this, all the works illustrated in this book are drawings, so the aesthetic of the book is pretty uniform.
I loved these two projects a lot and I find they have a really remarkable critical and artistic quality. What led you to develop these two projects?
My main interest, not only in these two projects but in my whole artistic practice, is to provide the viewer a lucid and useful tool that can be used to interpret the reality. It may sound philosophical, but it’s the way I feel it. My aim is to create artworks that transcend the strictly aesthetical and create new ideas to understand better the world we are living in. Of course, the aesthetic of the artworks is also a powerful tool that I use to improve their potential. In the end there is always a balance between the creation of a beautiful and suggestive object and the artist’s obsession to connect with the world. At least, this is the way I understand art.
Pastel on paper or oil on canvas. Given that the results are extraordinary both in one case and in another, what technique do you feel closer and why?
It depends. All my series are designed to be independent of each other, so I choose the technique that I feel more appropriate to develop the ideas that I want to talk about in each series. Drawing allows me to create more dramatic and realistic images while I use painting to represent more complex concepts. The choose of either drawing or painting is also related with my mood and with the emotion I want to create in the viewer. I stopped drawing for several years, just because I didn’t find a suitable idea to be developed in this media. On the contrary, nowadays most of my artworks are drawings, I think it is related to the evolution of my ideas and also of the improvement of my technical skills.
Your latest project is called Apocalypse. The theme seems similar to another of your projects (This Is The End Of The World As You Know It). What are the continuity and the differences between these two projects?
Both series try to analyze the idea of the end of the world and its representation in modern societies. The idea of the inevitable and sudden collapse of our civilization has become a recurrent obsession in western culture, something like a morbid pathology related with the feeling of no future and lack of viable utopias. While Apocalypse focuses on the aesthetics of the end of the world representation in western cinema, This Is The End Of The World As You Know It was created to think about the way the medias insist on the narrative of an undetermined collapse. There is no idea of continuity between them, but it’s true that both series are related in many ways, probably because they represent a kind of personal obsession with this subject.
We can say, correct me if I'm wrong, that your artistic practice is focused on the relationship between reality and fiction, between real reality and what we perceive as filtered by mass media, by our culture. In one of my articles I wrote that while in the past the fiction was nourished by reality, that is, it draws from reality today the opposite happens: it is the reality that feeds on fiction as proposed by TV, social networks, etc. What is your opinion about it?
I totally agree with your opinion. The borders between fiction and reality have slowly melt down, till modern culture has become a fertile area perfect for half-truths and speculation. Even the aesthetics related with the classical representation of reality and fiction concepts have been joined together, and now it’s really difficult to separate one from the other. We live in the time of liquid truths and sophisticate lies.
In my recent project I said that you are endowed with a ‘Faustian Factor’, that is, a capacity to be extraordinary, not to be content to be ordinary in a world, as well as that of art, which rewards uniformity, homogeneity. Do you feel extraordinary?
I don’t really fell extraordinary. I just want to make an intelligent, sober and lucid portrait of the world we are living in. I don’t want to be a comfortable artist, I don’t want to be predictable. My aim is to be able to generate discussion with my artworks, to create discrepancy, to make something exciting that helps me and others understand better our reality.
What are your future plans and where can we come to admire your works?
Now I’m working in a new series of drawings called Propaganda. Somehow it is an extension of Power but more complex and ambiguous. With Propaganda I intend to analyze the use of propaganda as a political tool throughout history and the basic role that art has played in this process. The works in this series tries to offer a non-linear journey through history and, of course, they respond to a personal, partial and intentional selection. My intention with these works is to think about the role of art within our society and to show something that is not new: the political and social dimension of art and its inevitable influence on the development and narration of history. My next solo exhibition featuring the works of this new series will be held in Álvaro Alcazar Gallery in Madrid, by the end of 2019.