Friday 9 September 2016

The Art of Dreams: Interview with Spanish Painter Pedro Paricio

Portrait of the artist: Pedro Paricio photographed with his painting Promised Land at Halcyon Gallery just before his show Dreams opened in London.
Spanish painter Pedro Paricio's new exhibition has opened at London's Halcyon Gallery. The show presents a fresh body of work, exploring the painter's ruminations on self-reflection, the subconscious and the transcendental possibilities of art. Our correspondent in London Lissandra Hemilton asks the painter our Ten Questions about his life & work

Sea Dogs, 2016. Courtesy Halcyon Gallery 
PEDRO Paricio has shifted his focus to the subconscious and the dream world for his new show and takes the viewer on a vividly hued yet unsettling journey. His latest work examines how our subconscious effects our lives and whether art can be transformational. “Dreams are not only what we inhabit when we sleep," he says. "They are also fantasies, desires and fears, both what we are hopeful for and what we are oblivious to. Though dreams are subconscious, they are also a reflection of consciousness." He believes an art work is "not only of today, but simultaneously of yesterday and tomorrow," allowing the viewer to travel back and forth into history .

"When I am not painting with my body, I am painting with my mind."

New work: Realpolitik 2016. Courtesy Halcyon Gallery
Paricio's new paintings depict surreal scenes, strange apparitions, dream-like states in the form of kaleidoscopic shapes, bright acrylics contrast with dark backgrounds as the artist explores the human subconscious through his painting. He weaves narratives through his figurative work, using experimental colours and a playful approach to the traditional method of painting. The painter still features himself in compositions, yet now without his signature costume including his black hat, blazer, tie and white button down. Rather like the German artist Joseph Beuys, Paricio’s hat and tie were a disguise, a part of his artistic persona. Leaving his costume behind represents his own self-reflection and the changes and expansion of his life and work: "When I change, my art changes," he says.

"I feel most a lonely mountain, in a quiet museum and in a silent old sanctuary."

Paricio's Promised Land, 2015. Courtesy Halcyon Gallery
The artist originally comes from Tenerife in the Canary Islands and he says as a child, he already liked to draw. But by the time he reached high school he was studying science. He only began to think about becoming an artist a few months before going to college. "To be honest, the thing that attracted me was the freedom that society gives to the artist," he says today. "I chose art because I wanted a different life." Looking back now, he thinks that the series of events that led him to work as an artist was a way of discovering his destiny. Paricio first enrolled at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of La Laguna in Tenerife before moving on to a course in Salamanca and completing his training with a degree in Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona in 2006.

"Art offers us metaphysics and consciousness and all that the fast-paced culture in our hyper-technological world cannot offer."

Bonnie &Clyde, 2015. Courtesy Halcyon Gallery 
Five years later, when he was 28 years old, Paricio became the youngest artist to sign with Halcyon Gallery in London. Juan Manual Bonet, director of the Cervantes institute in Paris, and former director of the Reina Sofia in Madrid, described him as the “freshest thing in the emerging contemporary art world in thirty years." Paricio held his first major show, Master Painters, at Halcyon Gallery in 2011 and the following year exhibited The Theatre of Painting, his solo museum exhibition, at the Institute of Culture and Arts of Seville, Spain. He has since gone on to have a further two acclaimed exhibitions at the gallery and has been included in Francesca Gavin’s book 100 New Artists, representing the next generation of emerging artists. Today, Paricio divides his time between Tenerife and London. Exhibitions in Europe and the United States have given him an international reputation and his paintings are held in public and private collections around the world.
 1. Where did you grow up and does this place still influence your artwork?
I have lived in twenty different homes in eleven different cities, from Vilaflor (the highest village of Tenerife) to the world capital of London. I am not able to choose one place because all of them have played an important role in my development.

2. Why did you choose painting as your artistic métier?
When I was a student, painting was eclipsed by the so-called alternative media practices. My family say I always want to row against the tide but I think I am just trying to look in the direction nobody has looked at yet.

3. How has your work changed and developed since you first began painting?
I am my work and my work is me. I am a painter, so will not be able to give an answer to this in words, I think my paintings speak for me, the answer is in my work.

4. What aspect of painting gives you the most happiness? Painting is my whole life so everything that has to do with that gives me happiness. While I do other things such as reading, cooking or walking, I always think about it through painting, and as though I am painting. When I am not painting with my body I am painting with my mind.

5. What do you find the most difficult part of creating your paintings?  
I always find it difficult to start a painting after I have had a break. I hardly ever stop for more than two days, but when I am forced to do so, I feel like an athlete who has been injured, and need a few contests to go back to the track and give his best performance.

6. Can you describe the experience, person or training that has had the greatest impact on your artistic career?
My parents, my wife and my son. My parents taught me to trust myself, to work as hard as I can regardless of the outcome, to do the right thing with no expectations to get a reward for it. My wife ~ because her love enlightens my shadows and my son because he reminds me every day we must take care of this planet for the sake of future generations.

The Artist, 2016
7. Describe what your studio is like and whether you have a set schedule of working every day? Or is the process more fluid?
My studio in an old Canarian house, a cave of dreams, a metaphor of myself... My normal schedule is to wake up every day at 7am, cook breakfast for my family and drive my son to school. I am already at the studio by 9am and will normally stay there until around 8pm in the evening. My time there is fluid because most of the time I will be painting, but I also read, write, draw, experiment and play the guitar. No particular order, usually just following my impulses.

During the year, I always enjoy spending weekends with my family, but when a new exhibition is approaching, my hours at the studio can be longer, up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week. This is usually a tough time for all of us. But I can’t complain because my family fully supports me. I am truly a fortunate man pursuing his dream.

8. Do you find your creative process is more rational or instinctive?
Both. I make many rational choices before and along the creative process but often when I am in front of the canvas, with the brushes and colours, I let my intuition take over. Our subconscious and body cells have learnt things that could not be rationalised.

9. Is there a particular place in the world you find inspiring?

I find inspiration constantly and everywhere. I can come across the best idea in the most unexpected corner. If you were asking me where I feel most heartened, I would say in a lonely mountain, in a quiet museum and in a silent old sanctuary.

10. How would you describe working as a contemporary artist
Pedros Paricio's show Dreams at Halcyon Gallery
in Europe today?
In our digital age, what do painting and drawing give us as art forms?
I consider myself a painter and not a contemporary artist. Art offers us metaphysics and consciousness and all that the fast-paced culture in our hyper-technological world cannot offer us.

Pedro Paricio's new exhibition Dreams is open until the 25th of September 2016 at the Halcyon Gallery, 144-146 New Bond Street, London: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 11am-4pm:

Subscribe to support our independent and original journalism, photography, artwork and film.