Today we’ve interviewed Pako, an artist born in Spain.
Pako enjoyed drawing and painting on different techniques since he was 8 years old. He expanded his art knowledge on the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Salamanca but consider himself a self-taught professional.
Hi Pako! How would you describe what you do? And how did you discover that this is your purpose? What did you want to become as a child?
Pako: Hi! I would describe my occupation as a work of creation through transformation. You could say that I’m a visual translator of a universal message that unites all the inhabitants of the planet.
I started painting when I was 8 years old and one year later I participated in my first exhibition. It’s true that the purpose of creating and transmitting has been present since my earliest childhood, but it’s not something that was considered by society (nor by my family or environment) as serious work, but rather an occupation of dreamers or a hobby. This is why when I was a child, my goal was to develop a scientific career. I continued my studies in this field, although I always complemented them with other activities such as artistic contests and other works related to plastic and other arts.
After finishing my studies and being immersed in the world of work, I discovered that, given my skills, it was infinitely easier for me to get jobs in the artistic world than in any other. I also enjoyed them and managed to be brilliant with ease, so I realized that this was my path. I would have loved to have had the proper guidance to receive the correct academic training. But as I told you before, I intuitively complemented my studies in the arts, and now I consider that a classical academic training would have conditioned too much my style and my way of working, so I would not be at the point where I am now.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Pako: Currently, my artistic work is developed in two well-differentiated lines. On the one hand, I make acrylic paintings on canvas. In these artworks, my object of study is cities. Above all, the crowded and highly polluted cities that we can find in any country in the world. My canvases have reflected cities such as New York, Shanghai, Madrid, Hong Kong, Amsterdam… Cities in which multiculturalism is the norm, although it’s not reflected in an apparent way.
The definition of style, in this case, is complicated since my art is not ascribed to any artistic movement. I think it can be considered as a unique style since so far I have not found any artist who creates artworks similar to mine.
A peculiarity of my acrylics on canvas is that they are works that have a vision during the day. But when the light falls and they are illuminated by blacklight, they become a different work of art. I think this is another reason for innovation in my style. Both visions must fit together perfectly, so the planning process plus the painting work can take hundreds of hours and several months.
On the other hand, I create new media artworks in which I mix different arts such as painting, photography, acting, collage, body painting, lighting design and graphic design. They are works that seek to show basic human feelings visually. It’s for this purpose and because of the mix of different arts that I call them “visual art”. I really like this way of creating, since it’s a more spontaneous art that allows improvisation. Sometimes, this produces terrific expressive results.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have a specific routine or process? How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork?
Pako: I always seek to have a routine, although for an independent artist it is complicated. People tend to believe that our daily life unfolds in front of the easel. But that is not correct.
My daily work begins in the morning, when I reply to the messages I have received from the previous day and perform administration tasks for my business. Subsequently, I spend a good part of my time programming my social media posts, as they are an essential way to spread my art. For me, it’s essential to carry out all these tasks during the first part of the day, since otherwise they produce me a “mental noise” that affects my concentration when creating. Once all this is done, I usually spend some time working on sketches or drafts of new works or on the development of new projects that always arise. Also, in the preparation of different shades of fluorescent acrylic paint. This is something essential for me, since there is not enough variety of shades on the market to reflect the nuances that I want to show on the canvases. This process requires a long time of experimentation with pigments to achieve the effects I’m looking for. Once I have completed all this daily routine, I can focus my mind in front of the canvas, where I usually stay until the wee hours of the morning. The silence of the night always rewards me in the form of inspiration.
People define your style as colorful, energetic and expressively daring. Is there a message you are trying to give with your art?
Pako: Of course. My paintings try to express the diversity of cities in a visual way. That is why I coloring each of the buildings in a different way. Some time ago, a friend told me that I was a kind of modern Quixote. Don Quixote confused the windmills with giants, but I confuse the buildings of the big cities with people of different ethnic groups, religions, sexualities, nationalities… I think it’s something evident in cities as large as those mentioned above. But in these places, buildings made of concrete, steel, and glass end up having a gray patina due to the contamination that unifies everything. The same is true of its inhabitants. There are always discordant notes, but the “uniform” that we all use makes us very little different from each other. I believe that diversity should be shown, it should be claimed and it should be celebrated. It’s what I try to express by giving my paintings that color, that energy, and that daring. For me, if one of my works went unnoticed or produced indifference, it would be a failure.
Hong Drone III 2017
What are you currently working on?
Pako: Pako: I’m currently working on various artistic projects that depend on the restrictions that we are undergoing in sanitary matters to be carried out.
A few months ago I opened my own gallery “Pako Campo artHOUSE”, and I’m waiting to get back to normal to start with a series of artistic events involving dozens of artists from all over the world.
As for my artworks, I have been working for several months on a work entitled “Wall Streek”, which represents an aerial view of the financial area of New York. In this work, I include a certain symbolism that expresses the financial crisis that is brewing, as well as its influence on ordinary citizens. It’s a large-format work, 6×6 feet. I hope to present it in spring in my next exhibition in New York, with an interactive lighting installation that allows its day and night vision.
I also continue working on the creation of new visual art, currently creating a series entitled “Multidimensional”, which addresses the different dimensions or aspects of an individual’s personality.
How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
Pako: My style has changed dramatically over the years, and several times. Last year it was thirty years since my first exhibition. It has been a time of intense artistic creation in which I have made more than 50 exhibitions and created hundreds of artworks in styles that have continually evolved. Years ago, I limited myself to creating realistic works with a formal style in oil, pastel, and charcoal. In my college days, and thanks to the artistic exchange with several artists from the Faculty of Fine Arts, I began to experiment with acrylic painting, which led me to a style that could be adapted to abstract expressionism, although it arose very naturally. This style was evolving in chromatic power and adopting an increasing figuration or realism. All this has evolved over the years in a totally innovative style.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Pako: My inspiration comes from any type of art, although it largely comes from music or film. I try not to look for inspiration in other painters since that kind of influence ends up being something like “doing artwork in the style of …”. I’m always looking to do something different, not something that looks like the work of someone or that belongs to a certain style.
I also find inspiration in illustrators like M.C. Escher, for the masterful use of perspective, an element that I like to defy in my works. My artistic inspiration through music is usually through electronic music, with artists such as Jean-Michel Jarre, Depeche Mode, Fangoria, The Alan Parsons Project or Moby, even other styles, among which I would highlight David Bowie, The Cure or Billie Eilish.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Pako: In each exhibition that I have made I have had some responses that I will never forget, many of them from art critics and other professionals, but it’s those of the children that have marked me the most. I would like to give you two examples. My last exhibition in Italy was visited by Lucrezia, a 10-year-old girl that I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting, but whose mother wrote to me later. She told me that she had fallen in love with my artworks, so she took a photo with them and when she got home, she printed it and hung it in her bedroom. Her mother told me that Lucrezia is one of my first fans in Italy, so I love being able to highlight her in this interview.
The other story comes from the other side of the world, specifically from Singapore. It’s the story of Emma, whose parents acquired one of my works. The artwork was installed in her home while she was taking a nap. When she got up and down the stairs, she saw my artwork on the wall and said “WOW!” She told her father how beautiful she thought it was and said she wanted to paint, something she repeated many times in front of my work. I’m very happy to have inspired her.
The children’s reactions are always sincere, they are not conditioned by styles, metaphors or wise conceptions. They are carried away by a primary reaction: either they like it or they don’t like it, and they are very direct with their opinion. I’m lucky that they are attracted to my work like magnets.
Apart from these examples, I often leave a guest book in my exhibitions, and the reactions to my work are always exciting, which I greatly appreciate.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Pako: Today we have fantastic tools for us artists, such as social media. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the printed or digital press, television or radio should be neglected, since they are media that reach other audiences. The problem is that they don’t allow the interaction with people, so the classic mass media have become a secondary media by which to make yourself known, and that lead people to search for your social profile on any network, even more so when there are certain algorithms that don’t help us.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Pako: The Covid-19 pandemic has made a huge impact on artists who use events as a method to advance their careers. In my case, the shows I had scheduled in the United States, Italy, and Spain for last spring were canceled. I have some events for the end of the summer, although it seems that they will suffer the same fate. There is such uncertainty these days that I prefer to consider missed this show season and prepare my schedule for next year. 2020 is a year left for reflection, the creation of new artworks, and to stop at our frenetic pace of life.
What’s next on the horizon for Pako?
Pako: The horizon is a mystery that we cannot control, so we can only have a positive attitude to face it in the best possible way.
As I said earlier, there are many projects that I’m developing for when the current situation changes. On the one hand, I’m preparing through my gallery an exhibition program on the five continents for talented artists that I trust. There are several large-scale institutional-level projects that I hope to be able to close soon. I can tell you that I have already clear about the next three acrylic paintings on canvas that I’m going to work on and that they are still in line with my dual light-dark work. I’m also still working on a collection of digital visual artworks. I will continue to increase my presence on social media as well, for which I’m preparing the live broadcasting via YouTube of my painting sessions. I think I will have it ready soon, and it seems to me a very good way to interact with my followers since I will be able to answer live to any questions they have. There are also some projects related to fashion in preparation.
They are a lot of projects that need time to materialize, but I’m sure many more will emerge as this work never tires me.
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