In the studio
This Spanish painter is never short of ideas. On the surface, his paintings look like snapshots but at the same time it’s hard to understand them at a glance or to describe them in a sentence. No matter how realistic his paintings may initially seem, they are actually an amalgam of dreams, memories and reality.
They are like collages of factual and fictional elements. Pere Llobera’s work refers to everyday life, his direct surroundings, political situations, history and is interspersed with allusions to art history as well. He complements this subjective universe with a touch of absurdity and surrealism.
Llobera is a skilled painter and portrays the world as it is remembered the moment just before one falls asleep; memory creeps towards imagination and merges. We see fact and fiction intermingle, all formed within the framework of a single subjective viewer and executed in a distinctive palette.
Pere Llobera (1970) trained as a classical painter in Barcelona, where he lives and works. Llobera was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in the Netherlands. In 2019 he won the Sacha Tanja Penning. His work was exhibited at two solo-exhibitions in Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Spain, at Fundació Joan Miró and ARCOmadrid, also in Spain, and Museum Voorlinden and Galerie Fons Welters in the Netherlands, among others.
We asked Pere Llobera some questions about his work and the special edition. Hi Pere, where did you grow up and where were you trained?
I grew up and live in Barcelona. I attended a Fine Arts school but did not complete it.
Is there such a thing as an average working day for you in terms of layout and activities?
I work every day when possible, including the weekends. My dream is to work all the time. Recently, I saw a documentary about Philip Guston and I wish I could work like him till the very end. No distractions; self-deciding about when I need to stop or go on. No time limits... I enjoy the art activity at that level.
Can you describe your studio for us?
I work in a shared studio (most of my studios have been like this) because of the hard life of an artist in Spain. I chose very carefully who to share the studio with. I want to be inspired by the artist and be able to be honest about what I think of their work. All of those who I’ve shared the studio with were great artists and friends.
My part of the studio is a mess, full of potential paintings. I often have 20 unfinished paintings I’m working on, so every day I chose the one I prefer to work on. When being in the studio, you can feel inspired: a lot of ideas and items floating around in the studio.
My partner says: “If you die, I will never set foot in your studio. ‘The idea of having to bring some form of order to your studio exhausts me’.” I think that says it all: it’s my mess.
How do you start a new work?
I start a new work in sometimes in the most unsuspected moment or by means of careful research and a real production effort, depending on the issue, the mood etc. There is no fixed rule. The works come from many, many places: writings, jokes, TV, personal memories, tributes to other artists, evolution and versions of paintings of the past. I also start a new work as an excuse to try a new style of painting... or a sentence on a book, political rage... That happens a lot.
In fact, the inspiration for 'Ruined Party' comes from a disappointed perspective of how the world should be but isn’t. Then the actual work comes from a political analysis and the recycling of a conceptual photo I made. The cake was in my studio and I decided to paint the object because it was already there, I am a painter, and because I want to offer a new work to AkzoNobel. There was my chance!
You work is often joyful, wonderful strange and puzzling. Beyond the virtuoso painterly surface, you deal with ecology, mystique and conflict. What can a painting mean in 2021?
I am really enjoying painting now, but I am no longer just concerned with the layers of meaning of a work.. What I need is to get a good excuse for painting. It’s that easy. I used to be engaged and I am tired of it. I want to paint. Paint should be enough. Concepts probably appear by surprise, even when I try to avoid it.
But since you ask, what I think is we need to get back to the past and avoid as much as possible the new electronic devices. I am thinking seriously about creating an essay in paintings of how to arrive at a new behavior, how to face the white noise of our time.
Are there certain themes that recur more often in your work?
Yes, the drama behind the real life. Yet I want to skip all this brain movement of mine and become a more instinctive painter, including more wildness. You might not like a single painting of mine in this next phase, that can happen.
When we, as artists, decide to change some things, we are saying goodbye to a specific public and we are saying hello to a new one. The point is not to stay in the same place forever. The communication process between the artist and the public of art is a transmission of the voice of the artist.
Far, far beyond the artists issues that we have, is the perspective this person is offering about life to all you… It’s not relevant what I paint. The point is how I feel about the act of painting and create this “third thing” like Walter Swennen said.
When is a work finished for you?
That depends. Sometimes it’s a half an hour decision. But I also have a painting that I’ve been working on for 24 years. No kidding. There are artists with a more stable timing of finishing their work, but that’s not me.
Can you tell us something about the painting and special edition for Collect the Collection How did you came up with the issue of the "Ruined Party"?
I don't want to repeat myself - as you can notice from this interview - and when I realized you wanted to use an old painting of mine for the special edition, I decided to react to that and create a new work, even if that meant a lot of work on my part.
At the time that the AkzoNobel Art Foundation asked me for a special edition, I was participating in a group show of my Barcelona Gallery (Bombon). For that show, I created a real cake that had to be destroyed with an umbrella. The idea was to practice my performance art a little while paying tribute to the 70's performers.
After the photo, it felt like the cake was looking at me. The funny thing is that I was acting as a performer but at the very end it was impossible to avoid being intrigued by the act of painting: the painter inside me took the upper hand.
Then I realized that the AkzoNobel Art Foundation painting of mine with the pink balloon evoked a similar message: a party suddenly turning into a disaster. My decision was to make a new work at the same scale of the real object. The original painting is 200 x 170 cm, quite big.
Does it seem special to you if AkzoNobel employees will soon have a work of yours on your wall at home?
For me, what is important is that employees, their families, get acquainted with art. Not just my art, but many others, such as Dieter Roth, Mike Kelley, David Hammons, David Wojnarowicz, Susan Rothenberg, Lee Lozano, Martin Wong,Pina Bausch (choreographer).. . Let's enjoy art nonstop, forever, and as much as possible. Culture Is a free MANÁ. Make your children get into art and I might never be tempted to paint ruined parties again!
Pere Llobera, Ruined Party (2021), 64 x 51,5 cm
vibrant pigment print, edition of 30,
special AkzoNobel price: € 475 without frame, € 705 with frame and artglass.
You can order the edition in the webshop