Cristina Gamón: «Painting still seduces and I am interested in claiming it»

Full name: Cristina Gamón Lázaro. Place and date of birth: Madrid, July 24, 1987. Current residence: Madrid, with some stays in Paris.

Training:
 Graduated in Fine Arts from the Faculty of San Carlos of the UPV of Valencia.
 Current occupation: Visual artist.

What interests you. When making a work, different layers of plastic, poetic or conceptual research always coexist, which I try to simplify by paying special attention to the contemplative capacity of art. I consider that painting still seduces and I am interested in vindicating it by keeping a constant gaze towards the past without losing the relationship with the present. I try to give visibility to those aspects of interest that, from the History of Art, have a place in the contemporary and that, on occasions, appear to us so daily that they seem invisible. From a fundamentally pictorial point of view, I also use other disciplines to value these discourses focused on expanded painting.

Fragment of «Thresholds»

C. G.

Where it comes from. My work has taken part in groups such as Itinérance at the Espace Pierre Cardin, in Paris or Cartographies of Creativity, traveling through Latin America. Also in more independent projects such as the Madrid Hybrid Festival, or national and international fairs such as Estampa, Art New York, Pinta Miami, Art Madrid or Art Phippines, as well as solo exhibitions in Valencia, Madrid, Paris and Manila .

The presence in institutional samples occurred very early in my career. I would highlight the one at the Palau de la Música in Valencia in 2015, in an open room whose entrance access is given from the park’s gardens. I always liked that feeling of prolongation from Nature to the art that comes with exhibiting there. But, above all, it has special relevance for me because the interests behind my work were visibly consolidated from there, and even today I recognize myself in the elements of those works because they make up my plastic vocabulary.

“The strangest thing you do when you dedicate yourself to art is surviving it or dedicating yourself exclusively to it, as is my case”

In fact, the title of that exhibition, Figura Paisaje Marina, alludes to a project in which I have been working until now almost in parallel, as it needed its own space and maturation time, and had not been able to delve into it in its Totality until last 2018, when I enjoyed a residence stay at the College of Spain in Paris thanks to the Formarte scholarships from the Ministry of Culture and Sport.

I would also highlight Aura, an audio-pictorial installation made in collaboration with the contemporary opera composer Carmine E. Cella. The project was born during my second year as an artist in residence at the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid. We present this interactive performance in the Auditorium 404 of the Reina Sofía Museum almost as a pilot test. We were both neophytes in the field of hybridization of disciplines and it was a very enriching experience.

Detail of “Thresholds V” and “Untitled”

C. G.

She knew that she would dedicate herself to art… From a very young age I have had a clear inclination for the plastic arts and have been able to train myself in it. I consider myself fortunate to have completed a bachelor’s degree and participate in a learning between tradition and avant-garde without a determination expressly directed towards a specific professional sector, which allowed me to focus on experimental painting.

“I appreciate the effort that various art agents are making to create cultural content and even live programming, although due to the time difference it may not always be up to date”

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During those years of university, the fruit of my work caught the attention of critics through the contests to which I applied. The Royal Academy of Fine Arts Award San Carlos de Valencia was undoubtedly one of those decisive moments. He was then 21 years old, and already had other awards, but this carried the responsibility of making an individual exhibition.

I was young, and far from the respect with which the institution is mythologized, from the Academy they have a close and committed relationship with the authors, so they advised me in all this process of entry into the operation of cultural mechanisms. Cited this, I would not want to detract from the Senyera Prize for the Arts, which would win a year later, as it is also the other most important award in the city.

C. G.

What is the strangest thing you have had to do in art to “survive”? It is almost a paradoxical question, because the strangest thing one does when dedicating himself to art is surviving it or dedicating himself exclusively to it, as is my case.

From an anecdotal point of view, I would stand out when I went to New York for love and made an appointment to present my portfolio to the first gallery I entered Soho. Four months later he was exhibiting with them in a group show. When I remember it, it still seems surreal to me.

I had nothing to lose, and my goal was to get an artist visa with a gallery there to be able to reside for a long season. Upon returning to Spain with the intention of formalizing the papers, I received the news that I had won the 2011 BMW First Prize for Painting. The relevance and repercussion of the award, added to my love-hate relationship with the bureaucracy, made my adventure plans towards a new world they will be diluted, for the moment.

Detail of the sample «Border colors»

C. G.

His “virtual” self. Those who know me closely know that I am quite analog. I have a sample of my portfolio on my personal website, I vaguely try to keep the “fan” page on Facebook and I don’t even remember my account name on Twitter … So I do little justice to the millennial title. However, a couple of years ago I made a stay in Manila invited in residence by the gallery with which I work here.

I found a country of contrasts with overpopulation and potential growth where the internet is consumed in mass from applications by mobile devices, to the point that web pages are mostly obsolete. It was then that I was forced to have a presence on Instagram. Staying active implies work routine, although getting familiar with the platform is being an advantage now that confinement caught me by surprise again in the Philippines.

“Society has that idealized view that the artist invests all his time in his production playing the creative genius and dancing among muses”

I recognize that, not only because of the distance, in this specific case of uncertainty in which we find ourselves, networks are being a window with views for many. I appreciate the effort that several art agents are making to create cultural content and even live programming, although due to the time difference it may not always be up to date.

As digital products, I am faithful to the classic blog formats, and I always like to enjoy a conference such as those collected by the Fundación Juan March or from Fundación Telefónica.

Detail of C. G.

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Where is he when he doesn’t make art?
 When you start to professionalize your artistic work, time contracts and expands as if art wants to cover everything. And being a freelance job, you always have something to do. Society has that idealized view that the artist invests all his time in his production playing the creative genius and dancing among muses. You can, but in the end you have all those invisible phases, such as the logistics management of the work, validate budgets, contact suppliers or make the declaration. And when you want to realize it, your artistic practice occupies all your mental and daily space.

This is why I try to keep a balance so that art never becomes an obligation, allowing spaces into my routine to learn from other disciplines or listen to new points of view. For example, the last one is the cycle of conferences on art in Latin America, directed by Estrella de Diego, or, last summer, participating in a Program A course, taught by Enrique Radigales, as well as some other previous one from La Casa Encendida.

Detail of the sample “Aquatopia”

C. G.

You’ll like it if you meet … I’m not much of a “favorite.” As you mature, it is difficult for you to faithfully defend those beloved references. It is like the death of the father, you cannot idealize them forever. In relation to my painting, I would quote the work of female figures such as Helen Frankenthaler or Joan Mitchel and, although there may not be such an apparent connection with them, I would not miss a sample of Gordon Matta-Clark, Anselm Kiefer, Luciano Fabro, Cristo y Jean Claude or Mark Rothko.

From my years at the Casa de Velázquez, I would highlight French colleagues such as Juliette Vivier or Marie Sommer. His work denotes rigor and commitment. As painters I highlight Hugo Fontela or Rafa Macarrón –both also BMW medals–, because they bet on the honesty of painting.

Detail of “White Shades on and off”

C. G.

What are you up to now? I have just recently completed the set of paintings for my second solo exhibition in Manila. The series revolves around a large central piece, reflecting on the concept of contemporary paradise –exotic landscapes of infinite beaches and tropical fruit cocktails–, and how it relates to the imaginary of paradise embodied in iconic works such as The Garden of the delights. Due to current circumstances, the inauguration was on hold and it is still early to specify its date.

I admit that after participating in the hectic season of fairs, having this time to paint, review my notes or read has kept me motivated. Currently, I am developing new ideas for my projects and others that I trust will be sustained in the near future, while I participate in proposals that are being formulated at the request of the new normality, such as the #busyarthome initiative from the Taide Program.

Detail of «Tamarid Flower»

C. G.

Favorite project so far. As one of the most recent, I would quote Sinik A Pillow Book, a proposal made thanks to the Aid to the Creation of the Community of Madrid 2019. It is my first artist’s book. For a while he fantasized about the idea, although, with the requirement of an agenda focused on larger exhibitions, it seemed that shaping this more personal piece was staying in the pipeline.

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A project that was born as a logbook where I describe my experience at the North Pole. On the 2014 summer solstice, I traveled on an expeditionary residency program aboard a brig sailboat accompanied by a small international community of artists and scientists bound for the Arctic Circle. I had always wanted to go there and face that feeling of insignificance in the face of raw nature. His presence is so strong that it hurts you like a white silence.

«Engaging in art is always an act of faith. Perhaps the responsibility to continue trusting in what I do is rather mine »

Sinik is the name of the site specific piece I made during the trip, inspired by the language of the peoples of the arctic regions where distances are measured in Sinik dreams. That is to say, overnight stays that a trip lasts. This imprecise poetic dimension of time and space was translated into a logbook. A drift that, through the psychology of color, maps the sleepwalking journey of sleep disorders.

Every midnight, as the ship sailed through the abysses of the icy waters of the Arctic Sea, the movement of the waves rocked the traces of fresh paint that glittered on deck in the euphoric midnight sun. The work gathers the witness of all the hours of sun, wind, rain and snow that lasted the trip, measuring in color these dream distances through its eleven meters of polyester paper.

Since then, he intended to complete it with a more intimate narrative by combining Sinik’s abstract painting alongside notes and photographs from the journey, which now take the form of a limited edition. Ten handmade copies make up this Pillow Book, as well as the video piece A Dreamed Distance.

Sinik. A Pillow Book », the first artist’s book by this creator

C. G.

Why do we have to trust her? Engaging in art is always an act of faith. Perhaps the responsibility to continue trusting is rather mine. It is often said that trust is earned over time. For me, it is recognized that a work is art – no matter its stage – because time does not pass for it. On the contrary, it plays in its favor showing it imperishable. I work with the aspiration that, through my visual thinking, I can establish a feeling of connection, and I celebrate those gifted moments in which collectors or the general public confess to me how the experience of contemplating each day or simply discovering a piece that I made for them it moves.

Detail of “Sinik”, a painting of eleven meters

C. G ..

Where do you see a year from now? Working in my recent Madrid studio. I ventured with the reform of a local within the Local Aid program for artists offered by the Community of Madrid, and, between stays in Paris or Manila, my time there has been somewhat intermittent. I really want to resume the activity there. I have enough space, and the architectural luxury of a good height, so I visualize myself projecting time into it and savoring it while I investigate in my facilities.

To whom would the witness of this interview yield? To Antonio Santín. After years residing in New York, he has moved his studio from there to settle again in Madrid. He is an artist with an international background, and his recent arrival may be new news for some.

Define yourself in a stroke. .

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