Carmen la Griega. Portrait photography and interview by BARTE.
We caught up with Carmen La Griega in her studio right before her next exhibition.
Formidable Magazine. What was your first creative drive?
Carmen La Griega. When I fell down the Prado Museum lift shaft. The door opened and there was no elevator, I fell two stories down to the kitchen, the staff couldn’t believe it. One of the cooks took me to E.R through the museum halls… Goya, Velázquez, Bosco and so on, I was crying all the way, without realizing it I made my first creative performance.
F.M. Is there a defining moment that made you realize art was your thing?
CLG. When we were little my Mom enrolled my two brothers and I in painting classes, I was 5. Some time after that she could not pay the school for the three of us and asked the teacher to choose the one who showed more potential. They choose me and it made me feel privileged.
F.M. How would you define your work?
CLG. As I said, my work is always action, performance, gesture, emotional movement and the need to communicate with the image; through painting, poetry, performance or life itself.
F.M. Inspirational artists?
CLG. I’ve been influenced by different artists at different times. Performers like Eleanor Antin, Joshep Beuys, Carole Scheemann, Esther Ferrer, Bruce Nauman, Robert Wilson … writers like; Fernando Pessoa, Antonin Artaud, Raimond Roussel, Alfred Jarry or Unamuno to mention only a few. Then came Tadeusz Kantor, Louise Bourguese, Eugenio Barba, Kara Walker, William Kentridge, Vanessa Beecroft, Georg Baselitz, Paula Rego… Currently I’m interested in the work of Georgia O’Keefe, Cecily Brown, Henrik Jacob, the Torreznos, Tania Arias, the carnal Rubens painting, Katsushika Hokusai and the paintings of Tibetan monks.
F:M. How is a day in the life of Carmen La Griega?
CLG. I get up early, have a coffee, and I run and do Tai Chi and Chi Kung at Retiro park. Then I have breakfast and make my way to the studio where I spent most of the day. I like working in the studio, and have friends, neighbors or even total strangers over. This makes everyday different.
F.M. What’s in your play list?
CLG. A bit of everything; Boccherini, classics like Bach, Mendelssohn, world music from Greece, Egypt, Portugal, Romania, Argentina; Violeta Parra, Arleta, Ana Moura, Hadjzidakis or Piazzola. Jazz musicians like Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Milles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Stan Getz or Thelonius Monk. Rock bands like The Kinks, Nick Cave, Bob Dylan, Ron Sexsmith, The Small face.
F.M. Best and worst night out?
CLG. Best night: when something magical happens; the seeing a poetic image, the connection of body and mind through a good tango, an inspected evening with my partner, a party with friends. There is not one best possible night but many.. Worst night: When body and mind are disconnected, with no communication between them. When apathy, laziness take over.
F.M. What do you love and hate about Madrid?
CLG. What I like best about Madrid are its people. The least; the lack of contact with nature in , there are no sea or mountains, I like cities near water; ocean, lakes, rivers…
F.M. Our motto is “A life less ordinary”, what makes life less ordinary?
CLG. The contact with children, when I teaching it feels magical, their look tell you there is much to experience and discover; one need only look with an open heart. Also looking with an open mind an heart.
F.M. What’s next?
CLG. On 28th November the exhibition The Rat Woman, a series of small and large scale format charcoal drawings, opens at Gallery Rafael Perez Hernando, Madrid. Sharing the space will be Maria Bueno, a daring and dedicated artist with whom I have worked previously.
F.M. What are this series about?
CLG. The work was created between 2011 and 2013 and comes from the visceral urge to put certain emotions which had previously built up into images; a daily confrontation between charcoal and craft paper with which I could transmit my pent up desires and emotions.
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