On the Curve Artist Spotlight: Andrés Ferrandis

Born in Valencia, Spain, Andrés Ferrandis studied at the University of La Laguna and received his MFA in painting from the University of Seville in 1997.

The following interview was conducted on December 17, 2016.

Ashley Casillas: Can you start off by stating your name, where you are from and where you practice your art?

Andrés Ferrandis: My name is Andrés Ferrandis, I was born in Valencia, Spain. And then I studied at the University of La Laguna in Tenerife in Seville, not in Valencia. And when I finished my master’s degree in Seville I traveled from different places in Spain as Mallorca, San Luca de Barrameda, I was living six months in each place. I wanted to discover some kind of relation with landscaping like abstract landscaping. Well I thought of art as painting at that time; I thought that art was landscaping, portraiture, and still life. So I was very focused on the idea of light, of landscaping. So for me, this way of doing mental landscaping was discovering my path into painting. That is why I was very into the landscape painting, into the light, into the color.

I was traveling in some different places in Spain and then I traveled to Havana, in Cuba, where I lived for a year. And I did research on silkscreen and some other techniques that I applied to painting later. Then I moved to Costa Rica and then from there I moved to Miami and New York but I decided to go to Miami because it was easy. At that time, it was like 2000, it was easy to be in Miami because it was cheap. I wanted to be in New York but New York was like six times more expensive, it was cold, it was difficult.

When I arrived to Miami, I found that all was really easy. And then all the fairs came, and Art Basel came in town and then Art Miami and it was a growing city and for an artist and that was really good. I used to have a very nice studio, cheap, the weather was fantastic and I met a lot of really nice people. So I decided to stay in Miami and it is where I have lived since.

I live in Miami, I have been there for the last two years. I do six to seven months in Miami, three four months in Mexico and two months in Spain. The reason I am going through Mexico so often is because through Patricia and some other friends I discovered it is like a place where you can still have a relation with tradition. I am really in the sense of the way of expressing myself, I need to have a connection with earth, the painting with the clay with the vases.

So on my first trip I discovered this amate paper that they do from the bark of the trees and it is handmade and it is beautiful and I decided to use this paper. That is a basic thing. It is not digital, it is very raw, very traditional. When I discovered this paper, I could feel earth, I could feel the hand of the artisan, I could feel these feelings that I was trying to find. And now I am using the most sophisticated prints on the market that is like the flat screen that prints also white color and it is amazing how the ink gets into the amate paper.

So why am I doing that? Because, once again, I wanted to use the very traditional paper with the most sophisticated technique to connect two different worlds.

One day, I saw a very random scene that was a guy in Sonora, a very old man in Sonora and he had an iPhone6, talking by Face Time with his grandson that as in Mexico City. And there was this may with his goats in the countryside. I said to myself, look at this man here with his straw hat and his hands worn from work in the country but he has this device of latest technology in his hand. It was a very surreal sight.

So I started to look for connections to all that is traditional with the new and with technology, I proposed to do this new series with amate paper and a very sophisticated printing machine.

AC: The interesting thing about Mexico is that you do see those extremes everywhere in life. You go to the market and you can see many extremes of color, texture, sound, lifestyle, so I guess you are getting a lot of influence from being there.

AF: Well I come from Spain and I am used to going to the market to buy fish, to go cook, and I am used to going to the shoemaker, and the carpenter… we are losing this tradition but in Mexico it is really still there.

AC: Speaking of Spain, I would like to go back a little bit and ask you how Valencia and your travels throughout Spain influenced your artistic perspective.

AF: I don’t think Valencia influenced me at all. I think the nomadic situation of my life has influenced me a lot. Moving from one place to another. Being very curious. My eyes are always starving for information. It’s crazy but I really need to see and to get into the place. In a way, I visually find the beginning of things. I need to register through my vision, through my eyes. I need to register how things start.

Going to places and finding interesting history is a way of living for me. Like when I go to Mexico, when I was in Argentina, when I lived in Cuba, with nothing, you could do anything with nothing. I remember there were cars that had refrigerator pads on the engines and the little kids build cars of tin cans. So it was like through necessity, you get creativity.

When I am on the streets of Mexico City, I feel like I could build an infinite possibility of expression with no digital or closed media, like first world kind of expression. I am not against video or photography, but I am a very craft and manual person like maybe related with the way we do things in Spain. But I don’t think it has been basic to be a Spaniard. I think it has been really based in travel and to see different places and the way they create with basic materials. The cultural Spanish situation from Latin America and my traveling has been more influential than the fact of me being born in Valencia.

Ashley Casillas: When I look at some of your artwork, it looks like a moment suspended in time, it has a romantic sense to it.

Andrés Ferrandis: For me to paint, or to express something is to capture one moment of time. So if you think about the idea, I discovered this concept five or six years ago that I always put the titles of my paintings or my work from things that happened during the period of time of the process of making the piece. It is not something that is before or after but rather something that happens in the moment. During that period of time that I am creating this piece, something happens. I am very versatile. I do design, I work with architects, and then I am changing the way I am painting now because then it was more constructed before and now it is more expression. I am using my hands again to paint. But I always do painting some design now I am doing clay. I don’t want to classify myself as a painter. It has begun to grow over the last five years, from the last five years to now.

AC: It seems like you are having a kind of evolution in your expression where your concepts remain but you’re using different mediums to explore and grow.

AF: I think that is correct because now, for instance, in that series I was creating in Mexico, or rather, what I was doing, because I don’t like the word create, for me it’s too heavy. I was creating these pieces, my idea was to create something on amate paper that is very beautiful, earthy, real paper, and then I realized I wanted to do drawings with these papers, I wanted to draw.

In the beginning I had the samples of the papers, but I didn’t know what to really accomplish on the paper. I had the idea, but I couldn’t see the finalized idea. So I started by drawing. I created three series. The first series was called “Música hecha por mujeres,” that is “Music Made by Women” because I was listening to this piano player and it was like, the way they touch, ting-ting-ting-ting, the sensation, because it is abstract, it is not figurative, there is a narrative in it but I like to express something that you cannot identify unless it is inside of you. It is very emotional, you don’t recognize ideas, you don’t recognize figures, and you don’t recognize visions of things. You have more of the intention of creating something very particular in your brain that comes from sensations emotions feelings and it is very musical.

This new series is very musical. So I started painting the fingerprints with black acrylic paint and I started doing this like on the piano, ting-ting-ting-ting, no? So all of these little dots because if you look closely, they are not dots, they are blurred hexagons, because the hexagon is, the shape is more similar to the tip of the finger.

So in order to unify it more, I blurred it.

Then I did another series that was the touch of the fingers from the piano, came to another series that is called “La lluvia, el alma, la noche,” because they were pieces made by night, also, there is a musical reference in the air, above all else because when I was in the market, there was an enormous puddle where raindrops fell, where the fell so softly like pin-pon. It was a rain that fell in the puddle like pin-pan-choon.

And so it fell and there were these waves, expansive, these curves, these waves. They were organic and round and before this series I was thinking about doing things that were very organic. I tell you all of this because it seems correct that I try to capture a space determined in time. Time is a thing that captivates me and I see it completely identified in the landscape, for that reason I am so into the theme of light.

But I tell you, in this new series, everything is changing a little. I am not a painter.  I am doing these prints, flat prints on amate paper. But what I like is to express myself – express myself through color and through light.

AC: That’s really exciting. You are opening doors slightly so we can look in and have a peek.

AF: In the show it is going to be a very reduced show, it will be an installation of the idea and it will be a framed piece. But it will be something really short.

AC: What do you hope a viewer will receive by looking at your art?

AF: You know I am not political; I am not trying to make some statement about a political, social, or sexual situation. I am static. I am basically an aesthetic and sometimes what I use to catch the attention of the spectator is that. Precisely the shape of the color, the idea of what is for me art.

I am not dumb. I know about geography and politics, I am a curious person, I travel I am educated. But for me art has a lot to do with aesthetic. Well done, well interpreted. For me, to be aesthetical is to be neat, to be precise; to be beautiful is something very interesting. I believe it is something that it becoming lost.

I want things to be as beautiful as possible. I don’t use any trick to captivate the spectators’ attention. To capture the attention of a spectator is to gather the sensations that go beyond.

Time, light, color; what is more beautiful than that?

On the Curve Artist Spotlight: Nicolás Leiva

Nicolás Leiva was born in Tucumán, Argentina. In 1983 he graduated from the Faculty of Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán and continued his studies in Buenos Aires. In 1990, he moved to Miami, precisely when its international ascendancy as the capital of Latin American art was being established.

The following interview was conducted in Spanish and is translated below in English.

Ashley Casillas: When and how did you decide to practice art?

Nicolás Leiva: When I was 7 years old I was drawing but at 13, my parents sent me to an art school.

AC: Has art interested you since you were a kid?

NL: Yes.

AC: What kinds of things captured your attention?

NL: Life.

AC: How did you realize you were going to be an artist?

NL: I didn’t realize it until I was already in it.

AC: What are some of the things that capture your attention today?

NL: Love, happiness, and the very existence of human beings.

AC: The circle has already formed an important part of your work. Can you explain its significance to you and tell me why you have decided to use that shape?

NL: A very interesting observation. The circle speaks to the equality of everything; there is not one who is more important than the other. Fingerprints are circular, the cosmos is circular, the galaxy is circular, and there are so many circular forms in everyday life. In the Catholic religion, the ring that is used by those who get married is circular, meaning that nobody can disturb the relationship because it is perfect. But if you look back, all cultures in humanity use the circle; it is in our genetic memory. You eat on a round plate, you drink water from a round glass, the majority of the containers we use daily are round.

Your question takes me to a reflection more profound, where does the circle begin? Does it have a beginning? Does it have an end? Perhaps because for me, the circle is the shape that represents infinity- how many times infinity passes before you, the answer is infinite times because it is a circle. You only need to have the attitude to be able to see it.

AC: The images that I have seen in your art are like the landscape of a dream. Can you tell me a bit about your current work for “On the Curve?”

NL: That which one sees in my work is what is to come – new codes, new forms, a new world.

AC: In the next ten years, where do you see yourself?

NL: Where love takes me.


Ashley Casillas: ¿Cuándo y cómo comenzaste a practicar el arte?

Nicolás Leiva: Desde los 7 anos que dibujo, pero a los 13 mis padres me mandaron a una escuela de arte.

AC: Desde chico, ¿te interesaba el arte?

NL: Sí.

AC: ¿Qué tipos de cosas te cautivaban?

NL: La vida

AC: ¿Cómo te diste cuenta de que arte iba a ser tu profesión?

NL: No lo supe hasta estar metido adentro de ello.

AC: ¿Cuáles son las cosas que te cautivan hoy en día?

NL: El amor, la felicidad, la existencia misma de los seres humanos.

AC: El círculo ya se ha formado como una parte importante en tu obra. ¿Me puedes explicar su significado para ti y decirme porque has decidido usar esa forma?

NL: Muy interesante la observación, el circulo habla de la igualdad de todos, no hay uno mas importante que los otro, las huellas dactilares son circulares, el cosmos es circular , la galaxia es circular, hay tantas formas circulares en el diario vivir. En la religión católica el anillo que usan los que se casan es circular, en ellos el significado es que nadie penetra esa relación porque es perfecta Pero si miras hacia atrás en todas las culturas de la humanidad utilizan el circulo, está en nuestra memoria genética, comes en un plato redondo, tomas agua en un vaso redondo, la mayor parte de los contenedores que usamos a diario son redondos.

Tu pregunta me lleva a la refección mas profunda, donde empieza el circulo? Tiene inicio? tiene fin? Tal vez porque el circulo es para mí la forma que representa el infinito., cuantas veces pasa el infinito al frente de uno, la respuesta es infinita veces, porque es un circulo, solo debes tener que tener la actitud para poder verlo.

AC: Los imágenes que he visto de tu arte se ven surrealistas y para mi como un paisaje de un sueño. ¿Me puedes decir un poco de tu arte actual para la exhibición de “On the Curve.”?

NL: Lo que se ve en mi obra es lo que está por venir, nuevos códigos, nuevas formas un mundo nuevo.

AC: En los próximos 10 años, cómo/dónde te imaginas?

NL: Donde el amor me lleve.

On the Curve Artist Spotlight: Laura Anderson Barbata

Born in Mexico City, Laura Anderson Barbata currently resides in Brooklyn. She studied sculpture and engraving at the School of Visual Arts at the University of Rio de Janeiro and architecture in Mexico City.

The following interview was conducted on December 16, 2016.

Ashley Casillas: How has Mexico City influenced you as an artist today?

Laura Anderson Barbata: Well, it continues to influence my entire life; I mean I grew up there. It’s what I know. So it is kind of hard to say it has influenced me in this way or that. It’s where I grew up and it’s my country, my culture, and my heritage. I am there all of the time – I go back and forth a lot. So it continues to be an important part of my life and in my work.

Now trying to analyze how it has influenced me…

I believe that there are many things that Mexico has given me and some of them are growing up and being born in a country that has in a living way, the presence of the pre colonial past, the indigenous past and present, the colonial ties now, so it has so many cultures coexisting and it seems to me like there are so many perceptions of time coexisting. So you have traditions and people practicing ways of life that have gone through slower change and others that are going through quick and very fast changes.

The sense of time, like layered time. You see it in the architecture if you go to Mexico City downtown to the temple mayor where the Zócalo is, you have archaeological sites that pre-date the Spanish and then you have colonial architecture that is about the conquest or directly related to the conquest and then you have modern architecture, for example.

On the human level and cultural level, those are all coexisting as well and finding their space. So that has been a great influence and it is also a country that is predominately Catholic and Catholic iconography is everywhere and that was a great impact in my life and still is because I am still fascinated by this iconography – I find it as disturbing as I did as a child.

And then the contradictions of the disparities, the wealth and the poverty, all of these realities, I never was able to be blind to them and take them without feeling something. You feel like you are always wearing your emotions all of the time because of all of the things that you are seeing. You can’t be blind to it or oblivious and ignore all of these tensions, beauty and reality.

AC: Whenever you moved to Brooklyn did you find that it was a place of many similarities or differences to what you had experienced previously?

LAB: I thought that there were a lot of similarities even though of course, New York history is different. When I first came here in the 90’s, I thought that there were a lot of similarities: the chaotic nature of it, the way the city has grown, the disparities, the amount of people that are Spanish speakers from Latin American countries and Caribbean countries. I felt like Mexico City and New York are sister cities. Kind of chaotic and so similar in so many ways.

AC: Did you always know that you were going to grow up to be an artist?

LAB: I don’t know if I thought about it that way but I was always creative. I was always thinking about making things. Whether it be making shelters as a child, where I was going to live, how I was going to live in the environment. Those where the thoughts as a child- my fantasies.

I don’t think I categorized myself as an artist. When I was living in Mazatlan, there were no museums there so I had very little exposure to art until I was about 10 years old. By then I had already felt that there was a way of experiencing life that was intense, that had no words, and that felt that within that experience that has no words is where art lived. I felt that that was important.

The first time I was in a museum at 10 years old I was moved to tears, the first time I heard classical music I was also 10 years old and I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “This is incredible, what is this?” It touches a part of you that is so deep and significant and I wanted to figure it out and thought that is how I would like to communicate.

AC: Can you talk to me a little bit about how you feel you have evolved as an artist?

LAB: To me the evolution has been natural- one thing leads to another. So when I work with different mediums it isn’t that I am looking for different mediums. I am working on a subject and choose the medium that feels like the correct one. If I went from drawing, it led me to sculpture, then to installations, then to being in the Amazon and starting a special project and working again with paper… one thing has led to another.

Some things too, they come full circle, when I was drawing at first, one of my motivations was to draw and to use the simplest mediums, charcoal and paper to communicate the most complex ideas. I felt like I had to do it in the most disciplined and vigorous manner meaning white paper, graphite and charcoal and figure it out and do it with these elements. I found that the simple materials could be very powerful conductors of ideas, so I believe in the rigor of using as few materials as possible.

But then you see today that I am working with lots of materials at once, maybe textiles and different elements of textiles and it has dance and it has music… but I am still working with what I have. In this case I have all of the materials and resources and amazing collaborators that are interested in participating so it becomes a lot more complex. But, that’s also been a constant, to just work with what you have around you.

AC: The upcoming show, “On the Curve,” is based on the circle and other curvilinear forms, so I was wondering what does a circle mean to you and how are you going to incorporate it into your work?

LAB: I am working on a piece that is made up of 3 elements, each one is a type of skirt or a type of dress that is circular at it´s bottom.  The idea is that these works must be worn to experience a cycle, or a circle as it is interpreted by the wearer.  The works hang on the wall directly on a type of a nail next to each other.  To me they look beautiful on the wall hanging, not just when they are worn.  They are simple in design and monochromatic. One is made of a sheer black organza with a wire on the hemline that creates circles, the second one is made with raffia, and the third is made from Japanese gampi paper.

Ideally I would like for each of them to be worn separately by someone working at the gallery during the opening for as long as the wearer feels that they have completed a cycle or circle of some sort: i.e. gone around the room and have ended where they began, or even to take a glass of wine, drink it or give it to someone and then return it from where they took it.  It can even be to say hello and then goodbye to someone or have a thought that goes through a full cycle.  This is in essence the concept behind these works.

The wearable works are also meant to be exhibited as works on the wall.  They are pieces that are not complicated to put on or take off on top of whatever they are wearing, I would ideally love for the persons who will ¨activate¨ them to be wearing black, they can easily be put on and removed and can be worn however the person chooses to wear them: for example on the waist, above the bodice, and or slipped over one shoulder.

Interview conducted by Ashley Casillas, Ruiz-Healy Art’s Fall Intern.