Chefer. Portrait photography and interview by BARTE.
The Straigh-Up series by Juan Barte are part of his long-term project “Live Forever”; A soul-searching work of love exploring the path of art through some of Madrid’s art scene key individuals. Follow Barte’s Live Forever progress on Instagram @Juan.barte.
Formidable Magazine. What was your first creative impulse?
Chefer. Playing with Plasticine. Definitely. As a kid, I played with Plasticine all the time.
F.M. Is there some epiphany moment or experience that made you realize that art would be your way?
C. I’ve always had the urge to draw and channel anything that happened to me through drawing. But it was when I emigrated, when I arrived in Madrid, that my life really changed. I started to paint, and I’ve never stopped.
F.M. How would you define your work?
C. Well, technically speaking it’s pop surrealism, definitely, but I think of my paintings as tiny puppet theatres where I play out whatever’s going on in my head. Like doors that open onto a different way of seeing.
F.M. Inspirational artists?
C. Lots. Through stage design, I’ve learned a lot from Monica Valenciano and Estela Lloves. Painting wise, I’ve always been a big fan of Bosch. Artists with a body of work similar to mine could be Fred Stonehouse and the Clayton Brothers. Also a filmmaker I really like, Sergei Paradjanov.
F.M. Would you say your studio setting influences your work?
C. Yes, it has an influence, of course. Seeing my work with enough distance and air around it, makes me perceive it in a different way. There are also pieces you can only do in bigger or more specific spaces.
F.M. Is the studio just a place for production or also inspiration is inherent to the studio space?
C. I think I spend more time working on my notebooks than on my paintings. I take notes anywhere and everywhere. They fit in my pocket. Usually, I work on smaller pieces at home, and then the studio is for bigger pieces.
F.M. Did you have a plan for the layout of your studio, or did it develop organically?
C. It grew organically, according to my needs.
F:M. How is a day in the life of Chefer?
C. Well, it usually varies, but for example, I might spend the morning doing the work that pays my bills ( advertising art director). Then I wait for my daughter to have lunch, and if everything’s going smoothly, I’ll go to work at the studio up until night.
F.M. Best and worst night out?
C. The best night probably involves me dancing and continuing to dance, even if there’s no music or movement. The worst night, it’d be locked in an elevator inside my head.
F.M. What do you love and hate about Madrid?
C. What I like most, definitely, is the people. It feels as though we all come from somewhere else, living in a city with no masters. What I like least is that they don’t let buildings age.
F.M. What’s on your play list?
Cr. It’s wildly varied, From Os Mutantes and Billie Holliday, Esquivel, Sella Lhasa, Ivo Dimchev, Damien Rice or The Velvet Underground to great tango orchestras like Di Sarli, Canaro, and Pugliese… I could go on and on.
F.M. Our motto is “A life less ordinary”, what makes life less ordinary?
C. I think that when you can be outside yourself, away from what your head’s constantly telling you, eyes and ears open all over your body. Then you begin to listen to what things around you say. Everything begins to speak up. It’s an almost magical feeling, you experience reality in another way. You just need to be calm, and listen.
Chefer shows at 6+1 Gallery. Opening party September 14th. 8:00 pm.
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