An interview with the artist Armando Mesías

Armando Mesías is a Colombian artist who settled in Madrid and who we have admired for some time now.

Mesías is multitalented, curious, inquisitive and is seeks new experiences. He is comfortable with the unexpected, a mindset that he transfers to his abstract work, filling it with beauty and magnetism.

We interviewed him a few days ago and this is what he told us. Come on in and read.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I don’t recall having a specific wish but of all the possible options, being an artist was not something that I had in mind.

The curious thing is that I didn’t see the thing that I enjoyed doing so much, since before I can even remember, as a life choice until much later in life.

How do you remember your first steps as an industrial designer, an artist and an artistic director in Cali, Colombia?

Very exciting. Thanks to that phase, I began to think that what I would do with my life could be related to what I enjoyed and defined me as a person. Whether it be music or visual arts in general.

In fact, it was through music and working with artists that I began to feel inclined towards what would end up being my personal career.

“I began doing the creative direction of projects for other people, until I slowly began to become more and more involved myself.”

You started your career with a very realist and figurative style, but later decided to explore abstraction and you became interested in ornamental elements. What can you tell us about this evolution?

It was something I had always been interested in from a technical perspective. I was always self-taught, until my time at the Academia de Arte in Barcelona. I trained there in the classical tradition of painting and drawing with a very strict and demanding method.

“Over the years, I gained more and more control and precision in my technique, and that began to give me the confidence to develop the language of abstraction.”

Eventually, one thing took over the other.

Additionally, given your multi-faceted profile, you have also made different collaborations for the movie, fashion and music industries, carrying out projects of illustrative and graphic identities. Which of these have fulfilled you the most? And do you still contribute to these kinds of projects?

For a few years now, I have been focused on my personal work. During my more formative years, I had the chance to work on several collaboration projects, which gave me the chance to have different perspectives on creative processes. I think there is something from each of them in the way I work.

Your work reflects on letting go and human relationships as well as memory and the passing of time. Also, your work process is based on the concept of constant transformation, where the wear and tear and spontaneous decline are as important as the intentional gestures and control. What can you tell us about that?

To revisit the idea of control in figuration; it was by means of abstraction and, above all the effects of the surroundings on the material, that I began to establish a dialogue between the artwork and my knowledge. There is a lot of that unpredictable influence that I try to take advantage of and balance out with gestures and graphics, which form part of the premeditated aspect, and give voice to reason.

“That drive between opposites is what motivates my work. To feel I am always looking into the abyss, not knowing precisely what path each piece will take.”

Do you follow any specific creative process when faced with a new project?

Generally speaking, the projects begin outside the studio. I try to change context for a while and something curious arises from that discomfort.

“When routine collapses, there is a sense of presence and awareness that detonates an idea.”

After experimenting a little and giving it some thought, I go back to the studio to develop it though a complete series.

Colour is an element that stands out in your work, because you use it in a very particular way, creating strong contrasts thanks to chromatism and desaturation, that we find really interesting. What techniques do you use in your artwork and what has been the process that resulted in you creating in this way? Was it deliberate or more organic?

I think there is always some part planning and some part intuition in everything we do. I try to have more of the latter than the former. I am aware that because of my journey and training, shape tends to come before substance, to put it one way. And I feel that that focus on the aesthetic also has a certain depth to it.

“Perception is always the path to sentiment and connection in art.”

All of this is to say that in order to consider a piece to be “resolved” (not completed), there has to be some kind of visual play that I find interesting, or discordant, or simply pleasant.

Elements of colour or texture or graphics are anchor points for me, a kind of first step to introduce me into the art piece that comes from that whole sea of less restrained textures and shapes.

In regard to techniques, I am constantly looking for new means. Painting materials tend to look for qualities of stability, durability and fidelity. I am interested in the complete opposite. I work with top-range traditional materials, but I also look for the cheapest and less traditional ones.

“I am interested in materials that don’t behave as they should, and that end up turning into something else.”

You have also carried out and taken part in numerous exhibitions both in Europe and Latin America as well as the United States. Recently, in fact, you carried out your second individual exhibition in Los Angeles, at the Galerie Ground under the name “No Garden Looks The Same Twice”. How did your interest in the history of flowers in art come about? And what is the value of flowers in representing beauty, innocence and the cyclical nature of life?

I think the floral theme had to come at some point. It has to do with the beauty of the ephemeral, and that sweetness, that is so universal, that comes from being aware of our own mortality.  This idea was something that drew me thanks to its simplicity, and that I have tried to explore with the counterpoint that is suggested by that classic definition of beauty, with the rougher, harsher aspect of fabrics in my work.

“All the materials I used, including fabrics and frames, were recovered from old warehouses in Los Angeles, Madrid and Cali.”

Who have been your main masters and sources of inspiration?

I have felt the calling of inspiration in many places throughout my life: comics and cartoons that I watched as a child, the punk music I listened to in my teens or Sci-Fi films.

“Very few of my references come directly from the art world.”

What do you think of Artificial Intelligence applied to art? Have you tried to work with it?

“I think that, at this point, IA is a good tool to try out ideas, but not to become an end in itself.”

For it to work, there has to be an intuition or an intention behind it, that should always come from a person, or an artist in this case.

What are you working on right now? What can you tell us about?

I am about to start a residency in Tokyo this summer. I am hopeful to see all that this may bring to the table and to allow as much of it as possible to emerge from there for the next project.

What is happiness for you?

It is to be able to make a living from what I do and from what makes me who I am, and to be able to enjoy that process. Not knowing exactly what to expect every time I go into the studio.

“That lack of predictability is my greatest source of happiness.”

Also, for a long time, waking up to go to work in my studio was my great dream. An essential component has been added to that which is being able to share it with my daughter Cecilia and my wife Natalia. To make them part of my process, and to feel the many ways in which they contribute to it and transform it continues to be my great dream come true.


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