Mr Brinkmann you were very young when you began to paint. What did mean for you to paint in a Spain ruled by Franco? Did your family understand you?
Living the years of my youth under the rule of Franco I thought that the rest of the world was like Spain. It was only when I watched American films that I realized that there were other societies which were more free and developed than the society I was living in. I also understood that painting could be a form of communication and freedom. At the time, I had big problems with my family, they did not want me to paint because they felt it was crazy and it would have ruined my future.
In Malaga you founded the "Grupo Picasso". May I invite you to tell the story of it?
In 1957 I joined a group of painters from Malaga - some older than me - and visited Picasso. We stayed with him couple of days and when we returned to Malaga we formed an artistic group called "Grupo Picasso", as a tribute to Picasso himself and as a symbol of modernity and freedom.
After Franco fall in 1974, which coincided with Caetano fall in Portugal, things changed in the Iberian world and yet it must have been difficult to breath freedom and freedom means to create having now the time to reflect more on artistic language than on other things, I mean on art as a medium for something else. What about you?
Franco died in 1975 and in 1977 we had the first independent elections, where we set up the Spanish constitution and where democracy began. Art, however, is something else. Sometimes, when faced with a dictatorship, Art can be a very potent weapon. Tàpies, Millares, Saura or Chillida would have not existed with democracy and Art became less important than it had been previously.
To which extent your German experience was important for you as an artist?
My father was German and so part of my family came from Germany. I was really curios to know what a free, developed and democratic country was like. I went from a backwards country with no liberty in those years, to a Germany full of artistic movements.
Anthony Quinn, the actor, bought your works. What about this original encounter?
Anthony Quinn really loved painting and sculpture and in his free time did both. When he saw my paintings in Malaga while shooting "Laurence of Arabia" in Spain, he fell in love with them and purchased almost everything I had in my studio, including a very large painting that is still today in the lounge of his home. Successively, he organized an exhibition for me in New York and we remained friends until his death.
Your "Reportajes" call back your black and white period when Franco ruled in Spain, a period after which you embraced colours and yet declaring that your decision was not motivated by politics, saying that your art rarely ascribes outside influence and that your only concern was with narrative. By "Reportajes" your efforts concentrated on the creation of a symbiosis between your need for narrative and formal experimentation. I would like to invite you to explain why you decided to give life to this symbiosis embracing black and white again and why you chose this title.
Last year, when I started working on the series "Reportajes", I felt the need of returning to drawing, using techniques such as pen and gouache, which I had practiced a lot in the past. The black and white has something of photojournalism, from war or catastrophes. The fact that this is a series makes it seem like war photographs nailed to a board with pins.
What is the origin of "Taurus"? The taurus is typically Spanish. We may say that it is the artistic temptation for many Iberian artists. Mr Brinkmann you were just eighteen years old when as a young painter you established in Malaga with other six or seven painters the "Grupo Picasso". Even if you prefer to abjure debts of earlier masters, is your taurus an unconscious hommage to Picasso or if you prefer to Iberian artistic tradition? And if not, why did you decide to dedicate your work to a bull? And yet, "Taurus", the name you chose for your new work, sounds elegant, far in time, not ordinary, almost mythological.
"Taurus" is the second painting in my life where the protagonist is a bull. I painted the first one when I was very young and this one is very recent. To be honest, when I began the work I was not thinking of painting a bull, because it was a painting that had a very long gestation; right at the end, I resolved it with a very spontaneous black gesture and when I looked at it carefully the figure reminded me of a bull or better, the bull representations found in prehistoric cave paintings.
As to "Spacio clasificado", is there in this work an effort to mix the techniques adopted for the 1999-2002 "Creating Space" series and the 2005-2006 "Segmentation" one? And more, is the deep blue, which characterizes some of your latest works, the ideal colour to experiment this new effort?
In this artwork, as for many others, there is a real effort of being consistent with my previous works; but still allowing me on the way to search for something surprising. The segments act as elements of order to repair chaos. I love dark gray blue for its depth and how it resemblances a sky as night is arriving, where other vibrant colours act as protagonists.
Using oil on steel mesh you offered us the beatiful series of "Cuatro estudios de sonajer chino". Is there a personal souvenir de vie beyond your decision to use this object or rather is it simply a hommage to a culture you like? This object undoubtedly fascinates you. A "sonajero chino" may recall childhood as well as religious tradition. I would like to hear about this story or better about your relationship with this object.
The polyptych "Cuatro estudios de sonajero chino" was made with the idea of creating a sculpture similar to a Chinese or Japanese screen; by repeating the same form on the four pieces and playing with the transparency of the metal mesh. The title does not intend to be humorous because I've never seen a Chinese rattle, but its a universal toy on a screen which could be Chinese.
In "Sotano" only Chinese ink could be used to create on a white board the image of a basement. Here is once again a dark image within a semi dark environment. Why a "sotano"?
"Sótano" is like an expanding fragment of a new story. Basements are usually dark, half-buried and with a small window above for light to enters. Terrible things can happen in basements.
And your sculpture "Estela".
"Estela" is a sculpture which has a strong relationship with drawing and printmaking. It is made from methacrylate scratching and staining it with etching ink like the plates of an engraving. In other words, it is like a drawing or transparent print.
Interview by Stefania Elena Carnemolla