An experience like the one I had today would never occur in the virtual realm however this same virtual reality helped me get here – to the art studio and workshop with an unpretentious name of “Frames&Co.” Led by this name and my virtual-only research, I barely expected an interesting talk about framing and art mounting systems but after meeting Gabriel in person I realized that it would be misleading to start our conversation while focusing on that only. As soon as I walked in, I understood that I had met an artist whose studio space full of character and his own diverse and colorful works spread around it, revealed a much more complex activity of this place.
Gabriel Pereyra is an Argentinian born, Barcelona based artist whose interests and experiences transcend traditional artists’ focus. Even if he insists on finally settling on geometric abstraction, his former road through figurative and abstract art intertwined with psychology and philosophy studies is present in the space around him and to my own delight, I even found traces of my beloved Wunderkammer between his earlier works and personal collection!!
Gabriel agreed to share some of his life stories and opinions with the curious readers of Stained Jabot:
Agneta: I found a statement on your website which I directly related to the way I met you. It starts with the words: “My painting is the complete opposite of the act of gesticulation and show”… Could you share how you arrived at this definition of your work and what it means to you?
Gabriel Pereyra: The truth is that it is a fragment of a longer text that I wrote in my statement as an artist and in order to understand it, it is necessary to read it fully: my painting is the complete opposite of the act of gesticulation and show… My painting is rigor, reflection, a projection of theoretical rationality that never parts from the primary and essential elements like form, color, the conception of the painting. The matter and values of order and expression, from where I experience an infinite number of combinations.
A: How difficult or easy it is for you as an artist to define your work as one particular style?
G.P.: I do not know if it is difficult or easy, it is my way of talking and saying it, that is an internal dialogue with myself and it carries its baggage, a story behind, where one evolves in a specific way and that’s where a new particular style is born for each one of us in any of the artistic activities. It happens when that mystical encounter with one’s work takes place. I also think that a person has that unique own style since forever, only that it takes a lifetime to allow oneself to start using it. Some take a little less time to get there than others…
A: From our short but engaging conversation earlier, I understood that you are an active reader and from the titles of your latest artworks I also sensed your curiosity for the philosophers. How do books and world thinkers help you create?
G.P.: I get strongly eroticized by a word, maybe it is because I spent almost my whole life reading. The literature, the philosophy has influenced my work a lot, in the way I think, and the way I am in life. A person goes shaping his own thoughts as a consequence of challenging thoughts by others. All that I am saying right now – I have read it before. And there are also other conditions that I am not even conscious of, like someone out there who said something to me… The short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, that fascinating mix of the fantastic and quotidian where everything can be otherwise, like maybe the moments that we are living right now or like the location of my studio in a hidden passage in the center of a city like Barcelona. That is very “borgean”, it influences my work, the same as the encrypted language of Nietzsche’s books is shaping my last paintings which are written symbols – an intention to deconstruct the language, something that Jacques Derrida, the French philosopher who speaks about the deconstruction, would say.
A: Which are your favorite techniques?
G.P.: I do not have a favorite technique. It all depends on what an artwork is demanding. It is a constant dialogue that also depends on the circumstances and mood I am in.
A: Some of the bases of your paintings are from old book pages, others have unusual shapes. What is the process of creating a painting for you? Do you create your own supports after you have an idea or do you adapt an idea to the existing, previously created support?
G.P.: Like everything, the old book pages were circumstantial. This work came up to me during the pandemic while working at home, improvising on my painting studies. I do a lot of sketches before I start, sometimes I make my own supports – other times I do not. There is plenty of experimenting and error before I arrive at what the artwork is demanding. I am totally reconciled with failure, I believe it is an essential part of any creative act. It is but to do, make, and make…
A: What other types of art and creativity apart from painting do you practice?
G.P.: I write when something comes up… which means always. I am also fond of trumpet and dance tango. I love it, although it has been a while since I went dancing.
A: If you could spend quarantine with two artists from any historical period – who would they be?
G.P.: Diego Velázquez. That is probably because he was one of the reasons I moved to Spain. The artistic experience I feel each time when I am in front of his works is brutal. The same happens to me with works by Richard Serra, his works make me feel uncomfortable, they provoke me… Maybe as stated by Theodor Adorno, an authentic work of art is not out there to be understood but to provoke a dissonance, discomfort, a disgust. It would be these two artists for sure. They are from very different historical periods but have a lot in common. I would love to dialogue directly with them… I already do it in my imagination anyway.
A: As I mentioned in the introduction, you can also create frames for works by other artists at your studio – what kind of works do you sincerely like framing when they are not your own?
G.P.: Frames are my passion. I have framed incredible artworks by great painters like Picasso, Dalí, De Chirico, Bottero, Juan Gris to name a few but beyond of these great painters I am very attracted by frame style of the 17th century, each time I visit museums I generally observe the frames more than paintings. Unless it’s because I go to see a particular artist, I stop to observe the framing, and even more so if it is from a particular period.
A: How did “Frames&Co.” activity start? Was it previously something separate from your personal art studio?
G.P.: Years ago, back in Argentina, I needed particular frames for my paintings to be shown at an exhibition. As a carpenter, my father quickly applied his skill and knowledge to producing great frames for me and continued making them ever since. It was him who I learned this trade from. It is a beautiful craft and I was always doing both: working on my paintings and also framing art by others. In some way it even helped me to develop my art in a more independent way.
A: I am also very curious about your story with the cabinet of curiosities – the wunderkammer I see here at your studio and also reflection of it in your earlier works.
G.P.: I discovered this whole world of curiosities through religion. I come from a very religious country and my memories about it go all the way back to when I was around five years old, visiting cemetery and entering one of the small mausoleums by myself. The whole feeling of the place decorated with religious art, candles and flowers… My first impression was that of fear mixed with fascination. Later it was also through studying anatomy for painting and multiple other situations that influenced my attraction for the kind of art and specimens that I occasionally collect.
A: Is there a place in Barcelona that you would recommend to visit for someone who likes art and is in Barcelona for the first time?
G.P: MNAC, MACBA, CCCB, and the Caixa Forum Foundation – these are the main places I recommend and go to myself, apart from a few other foundations and private galleries.