The Spanish artist and original Arena Martinez collaborator on his return to exhibiting and the ‘double art’ of dressing.
‘Describe your art in one word.’ ‘Myself.’
Individuality is vital to Papartus, the artist with whom we created our first collection of Arena Martinez kimonos. ‘It’s myself. It’s autobiographical, it’s how I see the world. For me it’s easier to describe the world painting it than explaining it.’ Talking about his art and his process, it is this word that he returns to over and over: ‘myself’.
After spending five minutes with Papartus, you can see how true this is. The vibrancy that bounces off his paintings is the same as the energy that you catch in conversation with him; but there’s something else too, and it’s honesty. You begin to get a sense of the importance of self, the importance of individualism, why in our conversation the word ‘myself’ repeats: because this is simply the only way to be truthful. Papartus seems to know – to have always known – how to be true to himself, as if it is more natural to him than breathing. When I ask about whether he could have imagined, as a child, that his childhood passion would become his lifelong passion, he replies, simply and straightforwardly, ‘I was sure’, no hint of hesitation. When I ask why he prefers artificial light to natural light, he tells me he does not know, but he is certainly more comfortable that way, and when I ask about his 11-year hiatus from exhibiting, again, the answer is uncomplicated, sure, truthful, ‘I preferred to work in my studio, by myself, without showing out my work. There are different moments in life.’
It’s a mantra we can all learn from: discover your true motivations, don’t question them, and learn to validate yourself, without the need of anyone else – gallery, exhibition, curator or spectator. Painting, for Papartus, is something that rewards itself. With this in mind, his pieces ring with more than their vivid colour and graphic intensity, they become intensely personal reflections on meaning and emotion. Words are sprayed across canvases, high contrast colours explode and overlay, but where they are affronting to a viewer, they are also introspective. ‘[Words are] a plastic resource… when you paint them you discover a different meaning appear from the context, the atmosphere, the environment. I use confused words in confused situations.’ These pieces take flexibility and instability, and expose it: they show us words are only one way of communicating and naming and labelling, and that those words can be undone and rehashed. It’s the artist taking his own personal mediation on meaning and letting the world see it.
Read our interview in full:
How long have you been painting for? All my life.
And what was the first experience of painting? When I was really really young, a child, I was interested, as all children are. By the time I was 13 or 14 I was taking classes in the academy, learning how to make the landscapes, portraits and still lives.
And did you ever imagine from when you were a child that this passion was actually going to become the passion of your life? I was sure.
You were always sure? I was sure. Always.
And when did you start exhibiting pieces, and why? When was the first time that you showed? My first exhibition was when I was 17. It was at a kind of bookshop which had a space for making exhibitions.
And from there you started exhibiting right away? Or did you take a while to start your career as an artist? No, after that I went to university, and I didn’t do exhibitions but I continued working. All my classmates had a piece of work of mine. Lots of drawings. And just when I finished university, as soon as I could I set up a studio, I did so immediately. I had a little money, I rented a flat, and I made my studio. I have had many different studios and I have been working in them all my life.
What do you need from a studio? How do you feel comfortable, what would you ask a studio to have in order to be able to work properly. A place where I can stay and isolate myself from the world.
And do you need light to paint? No, no no. I paint with artificial light.
Why not with natural light? I don’t know, I feel more comfortable painting with artificial light.
You stopped exhibiting 11 years ago, why? I preferred to work in my studio, by myself, without showing out my work. There are different moments in life.
You wanted to paint instead of worrying about others. And when you paint do you have any references, any artists that inspire you? You cannot avoid that, but I prefer to talk about the spirit more than individuals. I like paintings which have vitality, sometimes violence, which are a little aggressive, who ask something inconvenient to the spectator.
How would you describe your art in one word? Myself. It’s autobiographic. It’s how I see the world. For me it’s easier to describe the world painting it than expaining it orally.
Yet you include a lot of words, what is the reason for that? It’s a plastic resource – I mean that they’re not words, they’re confused words. I am not sure about the meaning of these words. We use a lot of words but we don’t know the meaning of these words. So when you paint them you discover a different meaning appear from the context, the atmosphere, the environment. I use confused words in confused situations.
And what do you think about mixing art and fashion? It is so difficult. It’s a challenge. It’s unexplored. There should be more people interested in that. Putting clothes over peoples’ bodies is an art. It’s an art. So putting art with art is double art. So it’s double difficult.
And how does it feel to see your pieces in Arena Martinez kimonos? It’s magnificent.
So I heard you have a big exhibition coming up could you tell me a little bit about that? The exhibition is not about the size, the expectation is about my return to the scene. Because people I think they thought I was dead! Or they thought I didn’t work anymore, so it’s a surprise. It’s not about the quantity, and the size, it’s about renaissance – rebirth.
Invitation to the opening of his upcoming exhibition. There will also be an exhibition of “Migas en las Sábanas” at Museum CEART, from 1st of February – 4th of March.
It was important for our first collaboration that we worked with an artist that we understood, admired, and had an affinity with, and that they, in turn, felt that they understood us. We could not have achieved that more succinctly than with Papartus. You spend your day in fashion, it’s the self that you present to the world. Fashion invites you to say things about who you are. It is only fitting that we collaborated first with an artist who truly understands what it means to say to the world who you are, honestly, and without fear of others’ opinions. With Arena Martinez, I want to inspire people to claim their individuality through fashion, to dress a little differently. Our vision for the future is to collaborate with different artists, with diverse styles and points of view, reflecting the spectrum of taste that is out there. What unites the different collections and the different people who wear them is willingness to express individuality, people who, like Papartus, simply believe in the truth and rightness of their own taste and style.
Thank you Papartus for being our first starting point.