Welcome back to Passion Painting, where I bring you along an exploration of the contemporary painting scene. There is much to see, as everyone and their dog takes a brush in hand and calls him/herself an artist. But I’m talking painters here, the real deal, that has no choice but paint.
There’s no better way to start fresh the column as with Marcos Carrasquer. Born in 1959 in the Netherlands from Spanish parents, he leads his life as a romantic dandy and produces some of the sharpest, concession-less, tightest paintings of the 21st century.
The fun and grotesque elements should not bring you away from the technical mastery. A cruel naturalism is turned into social satire with virtuose compositions. The closest artists that I could compare him to are Lucas Cranach the Elder and John Currin – yes, they go hand in hand anyway, right? Not too shabby.
How do you start your day?
Coffee. I need it to reboot the brain. Then I take a bike to the studio, and pick up the painting left unfinished the day before. I like leaving in the morning, go to work and see people doing the same thing as I do. Seeing the painting again in the morning isn’t always a pleasant experience ; it often looks less good than the day before. It is a struggle not to give in to desperation sometimes.
If you were to paint one thing over and over what would it be?
Faces, of course, the whole human body while we’re at it, hands feet. I also love painting books and shoes.
Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do on the openings?
Yes, very much ; I believe every painter likes showing what he or she spent the whole time making. Openings are a strange mix of joy and anxiety. Normally the next day I barely recall a thing of everything people tell me. In a certain way FB and Instagram have undermined openings. Following the artist on the social media, the visitor is already prepared for the works, so you often hear people saying things like ‘It’s cool to see them finally for real’.
What is your favorite place to think about a new painting?
Anywhere ; in the studio, in bed, reading a book, seeing a movie and most of all in front of the new painting. A lot of things take shape once started.
What is your relation to past painters, and history of art?
It is intense. I think a lot about painters of the past while working ; how the hell did they make so much paintings without electricity? How did they manage to work without nicotine? How did Velázquez feel working for morons? And Malevich, when he was tortured or could’t leave his apartment. I have a sense of lineage with painters of the past, they are always present in the studio. It is a family thing; I’m not saying that they need me, but I need them.
Which question would you like to ask your painting Idol?
No question prepared. I would have loved to spend a day with Philip Guston in his studio in Woodstock, with maybe a visit from his friend Philip Roth at the end of the day, a few drinks and surely a question would pop up.
How did you develop this work you’re doing now?
Taking in, filtering and translating into new images. If you consider that everything is paintable ; that there is no hierarchy of subject, somehow and consequently, you have to convince yourself and ultimately the viewer that the way the subject is painted, works.
That it works and appeals.
How did you meet your favorite collector?
At the Drawing now artfair in Paris. A gallerist – not mine, by the way- made him come over and see my show at the fair and there’s where I met him. He has a great intuitive soul.
Why do we still paint in 2020?
We will still paint in 2020 and beyond, for as long as there is anxiety and awe and wonder for the people and things we see everyday, we will have to paint. Some friends of mine say painting has enemies. Well, Enemy of painting, you are pathetic, you are dead wrong and go fuck yourself.
Jesus, I don’t know, where is Man heading? Painting is of course very linked to its epoch. It’s true that we’re submerged by images and painting has another speed. A condensation, a skin, a slowness, it will always make sense.
Can you tell me 3 colleagues whose work you admire?