What’s your name and when were you born?
My name is Carme Solé Vendrell and I was born in August 1944. In Barcelona. In the Horta neighborhood.[lit. vegetable garden]
And what do you do? What do you like?
I’ve spent almost fifty years making children’s book, illustration and the texts of some books as well.
And later, twenty years ago, after a book called “Els Nens del Mar” [lit. The Children of the Sea] I started painting gypsy children, street children.
And afterwards, after another tale that I illustrated, a poem by Bertolt Brecht titled “La Croada dels Nens” [lit. The Crusade of the Children, orig. Kinderkreuzzug] I started painting war children, and that’s what I paint now.
War children are those kids that come from a warlike atmosphere or are being exploited. Specially child refugees, children who live in situations where their rights are violated.
And now lately I’ve been working on a campaign named “Why?” with Jaume Escala, who is the person with whom I’ve been collaborating. I paint portraits that we hang on the streets, on the balconies.
It poses the question “Why?”. Why are the rights of children not being respected. Why do the children have to suffer, endure pain and abuse at the hands of adults.
You’re quite focused on these children work, how do you remember your childhood?
My childhood was the Spanish civil war. On the one side, for example Catalan was a language that was forbidden. But we would use it at home, even in the school and on the streets. But it meant trouble to speak Catalan. The government forced us to study Spanish.
But I remember my childhood as a happy one. I mean, my family was active socially in the neighborhood. We performed theatre; I began performing at a very young age. It is my great passion.
I performed for many years, until I had to choose acting or book or visual arts. I remember my childhood as a happy one.
The only bad thing that happened was that my mother was really sick. She had tuberculosis and she died when I was nine. That left a mark on my life. Maybe that’s why I focused on children.
On the one hand, my books, the ones I’ve been able to make and choose, those I’ve proposed, focus on topics such as death and loneliness.
And then, after a time, those children I’ve focused on have compelled me to paint them.
Illustration is a very intellectual undertaking. You have to think a lot about how you will do it, how you will express yourself to explain in images what is written.
But painting, for me comes from a need inside. I see a child in the newspaper, on TV or the internet that catches my eye and tells me to paint him, and that’s the child I paint.
All the kids I paint are real. I don’t make them up, because I believe all of them are saying, “Give me a voice. Make someone listen to me.”
I suppose that many of the thoughts that these kids express, I have inside myself because of my mother’s death.
I was nine years old. And it’s a void that stays with you your whole life.
Well, you have to be alone to work, otherwise you get distracted.
You mention books in Catalan from church and you played theater for fun, what did you read, what sort of books you read in Catalan, Spanish, others?
For example, we read books from the beginning of the last century. In Catalonia, there was a great tradition of illustrators, and books for children.
There were illustrations by Mercé Llimona, by Lola Anglada… All these books were part of our upbringing.
Those were the ones we had, because during the war this was cut short. Then there was Folch i Torres, who was a writer that was allowed to keep writing in Catalan because he was so tranquil, very good while also very formal.
They were llustrated by an illustrator named Junceda. These books were an important part of my history.
We, of course, also read books in Spanish. Verne’s classics, all that was available at that time, not that there was much.
How do you remember your childhood’s neighborhood and how has it changed ever since?
My neighborhood used to be its own town, and at the beginning of the last century, it was annexed by Barcelona. But people from there still say that we’re going to Barcelona when we go downtown, as if Horta wasn’t a part of Barcelona. This also happens in Sarrià and other neighborhoods.
What I like from the neighborhood is that you know many people whom you’ve known forever. It’s more like a huge family.
Even though I no longer live there, wherever I go, I run into people from there.
Life in the neighborhood has changed because it has become much bigger, but the people from Horta have a unique dialect in common. Many people ask if I’m from Girona, for example, because my Catalan isn’t typical of central Barcelona, with really big A’s. It is a Catalan richer in sound and different from that of Sarrià.
Those former towns maintain the accent, but it is fading. It is fading because constantly there’s people moving in there who are not from the area. But we still have this unique accent. It has changed, but there’s a place where it still sounds quite similar.
You’re talking now about diction and accents, like when you talked about theater it is a personal matter. Are you familiar with the play “Pigmalió” [Pygmalion] adapted by Joan Oliver?
Yes, I played the part of Pygmalion.
Could you tell me a bit about this?
I played this character, I even remember bits of the script.
I played the lead girl…
This play by Joan Oliver, “Pigmalió”, the adaptation, we performed it where we usually performed, which was the “Lluïsos d’Horta”, and I was cast as Pygmalion.
It’s a person from a low social class and they want to raise her as a proper lady.
She has this street, rude vocabulary that slips from her. I remember this bit that said: “Go fuck yourselves, ‘padestrians’.”
That was a very controversial sentence because they would say that “go fuck yourself” shouldn’t be said, but I ended up saying it because it was on the script.
It’s a very entertaining play as well as interesting, because it deals with the different ways of talking according to your birthplace.
Even in the city, the people who had money here in Barcelona many would speak in Spanish “porque hace más fino” [lit. because it’s classier]
But the common people, we’ve continued speaking Catalan.
The common, simple people is what has always maintained this language, the villagers.
This play and the fact that you speak so much in classic Catalan have called my attention for those small cultural concessions, like in children’s books and theatre because it wasn’t controversial.
What other exceptions do you remember, before Franco died, of quote unquote official uses of Catalan?
I didn’t quite get…
What cultural exceptions of usage of Catalan in public, like the theatre plays and others that you remember.
The theater was one of the places where most Catalan was being introduced.
Afterwards there were some magazines for kids called “Caball Fort” [lit Strong Horse], “Tretze Vents” [lit Thirteen Winds] that tried to promote Catalan among the kids, but this was already in the sixties.
From the forties to the sixties there was a great void in this regard.
Afterwards, books for children started to be made with the pedagogical revision, which was a time where they would make some really good school books, with the schools of the CEPEPC [Collective of Schools for the Public Catalan School] that were those schools made up of people who wanted to raise our children in a different way, and in Catalan.
We would make collectives of teachers and parents and we’d make these schools that received no subsidies and the parents had to pay the scholarship of the kids.
Afterwards, they became public, in the eighties.
All this was the social basis that was making Catalan occupy places and conquering small contexts.
There was also the song, the movement “La Nova Cançó” [lit The New Song] that started so that people would sing in Catalan.
It usually was a protest kind of song.
Maria del Mar Bonet, for example, would sing popular songs, but it was a way as well to take back the music for the people, the music in Catalan.
The tie with the church, the social, cultural and familiar tie with the church, how was it?
It was really strong. It’s not that this man would go to church, it’s that when mass was over he would arrive with the books.
I suppose he didn’t attend mass, and put the books for sale, cheap so that people could afford buying them.
In my home, they were people like everybody in that time.
Everybody was church people. Many by force; at my home, they believed in it.
They were people with a social conscience, which is something I’m grateful for.
The fact that not just because they had religious beliefs they were the kind to go to mass and then do otherwise. They were coherent with what they believed.
They brought me up in this upbringing of attending mass every Sunday and all that.
The thing is that there is a moment when you want more answers, that isn’t enough for you.
Because when something is by say-so, if you don’t get it doesn’t really…
Now, I do believe in the message of Jesus, of Christianity, this is still valid for me.
I no longer go to church to attend mass. There was a moment when I broke off because so many commitments were hard.
But in that time, everything revolved around church. There were parades, everything that involved the neighborhood took place at church.
And of course, slowly in the seventies it started to fall apart. People wouldn’t go to the parades. Everything became diluted organically, like it was bound to happen.
That really was a regime thing, I mean, people who wouldn’t go to mass were watched, it was compulsory for some in order to survive.
Not everyone believed, but many went.
Now, for example, my grandfather didn’t go.
Many people who weren’t religious or catholic could do that. But society as a whole revolved around the church.
I have noticed the character of your grandfather as an agnostic, atheist, anticlerical. How were the stories that he would tell, both regarding beliefs and anecdotes?
My grandfather didn’t talk much, he wasn’t a man to… It was my grandmother who at home was the…
He was a man that in his youth had worked as a tramway driver and baker, every possible job. He went to Cuba with his brother-in-law to make money.
He lived for many years in Cuba, my father as a child didn’t have him there, and after the stock market crash of 29, he came back home with very little money because he had lost everything there.
It was the other one, his brother-in-law was a person… He went as a laborer, let’s say.
He was a very silent man, but during the Republic he was the mayor of the neighborhood of Horta.
I mean, he was an involved person but during the Republic.
Afterwards, during Franco’s regime, my grandfather lived at home and that’s it. But he was quite silent, I mean…
My grandfather, for example, has a cousin who was the founder of the PSUC [Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia] JOA COMORERA SOLER. So, he had a different way of viewing things.
This man died in prison, because he wanted something different.
He went to Russia, saw what was being done there and said, “This has to be done some other way.”
And well, here his own partners denounced him, and he died in prison.
My grandfather was silent, but often smiling.
He died when he wasn’t too old, but well, I got to know him well enough.
But it was my grandmother who went to mass, who would to that, not the grandfather.
But did he never say those things that they believe just because they are told?
No, he was respectful as well. I suppose he didn’t want to argue much at home, right? Because my grandmother was strong. [laughs]
Everyday things like special meals, games… What did you do when you were kids, do you remember?
Yeah, I remember some things.
For example, on Monday we would reenact the play we had performed on Sunday.
This was a really common thing, and we would dress up with the school apron and everything. Our play was centered around theater.
Other games we played… I used to play a lot of ball. I liked playing soccer a lot — basketball and everything, but without goal posts. We would use trees. And the game would be over when the ball got stuck on the neighbor’s roof. Then they’d tell us we had to stop.
But games we would play the usual games: tag, hide and seek… Marbles, in Spanish called ‘canicas’.
Regarding this, there’s a painting by Brueguel with kids playing marbles. Curious, eh? It’s such an old game.
Then, we’d also play… to “walls”, turning around, hopscotch…
And at home we’d build everything we could to play houses and families and whatever. And just as we’d have all of it ready we had to undo it because it was lunch time.
A thing that we did at my home, which was real fun, was telling “aventis” [short from cat. aventures]. We would all sit around and make up adventures and we called them “aventis”.
Then we had small wooden things, we called them “Maques tonteries” [pretty silly things] We’d name everything, it was really fun.
You say that your grandfather was quite silent, but old stories that other, older members of the family told about the past here in Barcelona, about how things have changed, do you remember any?
Yes, for example, I remember clearly that, before, people didn’t usually marry for love.
I remember that my great-grandfather apparently had a lover. And my great-grandmother, if it was raining, would go pick him up with an umbrella so that he wouldn’t get wet. I meant, it was something that wasn’t as big as it could be later, right? People lived in a more natural way.
For example, things I remember…
About the family. My grandfather, for example, on my mother’s side, came from a village with a cart, because they were from Valls. They lived in Vallmoll.
And they came with a cart. They were immigrants inside Catalonia itself. Because you just couldn’t live there. He came here and settled in the neighborhood of Horta with his goats.
He died from a heart attack after a train ran over some of his goats. He thought his partner had been run over by the train too, and died at the age of 32.
He was from a family that came from the place where the “mossos d’esquadra” were founded, and this is something we really need to investigate.
It seems that when his father, who also died young, died, the administrator took everything from my great-grandmother. Then they had to make their own fortune, people who had had a certain status.
What else in the family? Yeah, there are many things, but now…
There’s that my grandfather was famous when he was a tramway driver because he was so punctual, or so they say.
There’s also that my grandmother by my father’s side played the piano. She had a degree in piano, despite them being quite middle-class but, culturally my family, everywhere, they have always been…
My mother, despite having lost her father they were four siblings. They had a single aunt who was a dressmaker and paid for all their schooling.
My mother’s entire course of study took place at the Lliceu.
They were people with few resources, but with cultural curiosity, on both sides of the family, and this is what we inherited.
You talk about this rather strong cultural influence; how do you see that it has affected you professionally being older?
I think that this makes you who you are.
The first seven years of your life goes a long way toward shaping you.
If you’ve grown up in a culturally immersive atmosphere, you need culture to live.
I can’t imagine not reading. It is a profound need.
The cultural impact of my ancestors has really defined me.
For example, look at the contradiction: since my mother had died and she used to say that she’d like me to learn to draw, because apparently, I was good at drawing.
That’s why, when I finished school I went to the Massana school to study painting and drawing. But they put me in commerce, with a…
To study commerce, and I’ve never done something that far from the way I saw life. I didn’t understand anything of what we studied there.
I later got to use the French, typing with all my fingers, and we learned to write quite well, but that’s all.
I haven’t been able to use much more later in life of what they taught me.
They made me study because girls had to work and this was the very best.
Studying for secretary, I mean.
They put me to work when I was fifteen and a day and I was suffocating there.
As soon as I was able I left for a ceramics workshop, and that was a whole new story.
There was an artistic atmosohere.
There worked a very popular ceramist of that time, named Jordi Aguade. He’s still alive, and a very interesting person.
We organised movies with debates [cine forum is watching a movie and having a collective debate afterwards]. I remember watching “el Acorazado Potemkin” [orig Бронено́сец «Потёмкин» lit. Battleship Potemkin] there. We saw lots of movies, and also organized readings of poetry and songs.
I also also got into another atmosphere, from the same neighbourhood. He’s from Horta too, this man, lived a couple of minutes from my place.
There I also connected with another kind of culture.
People with a different cultural level and different cultural roots.
In the neighborhood, it was common. There was a lot of people culturally active in.
I think it was common in all of Barcelona.
So that’s what has saved a bit of us.
You just said that this cultural aspect is what the culture of Barcelona really is about. Do you think that, in general, Barcelona supports arts and artists?
That’s a big no. I think that art is done and theatre performed here thanks to the people.
There isn’t much culture, and notice that in the electoral campaigns this topic is barely touched
Culture is very unsheltered, and you can quote me on that.
Sometimes, depending on who is on the public institutions, a certain help can be felt. Things are done, Greek theater is performed and festivals are celebrated, all so that culture can come to light.
One thing that’s not lacking here is artistic skill. In theatre and everything this is something nobody doubts.
But a lot of people has trouble to manage to carry on. I think culture isn’t as valued as it should be. Deep down it’s what makes us different, what allows us to express ourselves as people.
There has also been some provincialism, the way I see it. Everything that comes from outside is good, specially anything from the Anglo-Saxon world.
Despite Barcelona being an open-minded city and not looking provincial, I think it is in many levels.
But people here are open-minded, generally speaking.
I think Barcelona has always had this feature.
A lot is said in Catalonia about a certain affinity for the land, they say that Catalan spirit grows on the land.
Often a painting from Joan Miró is mentioned, La Masia [lit the farm], this farm which is found on a rock, you know?
Do you think that it is true that the relation between the Catalan spirit and the land is true? Is it still true?
I think that yes, that land in Catalonia is really important.
We feel like we belong here, right?
We have a deep connection with the land, but in the physical sense, I had never considered this before.
I think that yes, in Catalonia the land is very important for us, the territory, right?
The thing is that when you live in the city, if you don’t go out you practically don’t see it, but I do think it has a strength.
We also have the luck of living in terrain that has everything: it has the sea; it has mountains; it has high mountains; it has fields. You can find it all in such a small space.
It’s a beautiful country.
And at home, how has changed the way in which you talk about politics? From what you heard when you were little to now.
When I was little it was whispers, you didn’t listen to talks about politics.
I for example, heard about this cousin of my grandfather, but they never talked to us about it.
Then, during the sixties, politics were key. We all had this spirit of going against the dictatorship.
And this lasted long until the first years of democracy, when we were still fighting to have the “estatut”, to have many things that were lost and that in the times of the Republic were still there.
Even Catalonia had fantastic schools, and Spain as well from the Republic.
Catalonia has a very important educational tradition, the father of the modern school system is called Francesc Layret, and he’s Catalan.
Politics, of course. In 1975, people were still being executed under the Franco regime. We fought very hard against all of this. And afterwards, with democracy it seemed that we were given all the freedoms we demanded, but the spirit sort of deflated like politics.
We stopped fighting because it seemed that already…
But it turns out that it didn’t, in democracy those who rule are still the same, and in theory there’s freedom but in the way it is…
Now everything is focused: either independent Catalonia or not, right? There have always been subjects to argue from a political point of view.
But here we argue with passion. It is something that affects us really deeply.
Because deep down, respect for [our] language is elusive. We don’t speak Catalan just to make a point. It’s our language.
From Spain’s perspective, it’s inconceivable that another language, that we consider to be our own, is spoken here.
The other one is great to know, it is fantastic to know two languages. But it actually is an imposed language, it isn’t ours.
And of course, until that isn’t respected there can be no understanding. I believe that it is the key point, respecting the difference, which is non-existent.
In literature and arts, is there any Catalan artist that you like specially?
In art, I think that the painter that I consider transmits more to me is Joan Miró.
Joan Miró can be a bit hard to get at first, it took me a while, I didn’t get him at first.
But then there’s a clack, and you start seeing his work, the sculptures, everything he has done.
I think he has a very important spiritual part. But spiritual as in spirit, not Christianity or anything.
That when you connect with it, it gives you a great feeling of wellbeing.
For me Joan Miró is the painter.
Then there’s many contemporary artists. For example, I like Miquel Barceló a lot, I like the painting from many people.
But if I had to choose one, for me Miró has had the capacity to express his world in a way that only he has managed. And now if someone paints like that it looks like he’s copying it, right?
He has managed to get out of himself… Picasso would tell him I paint what I see, you paint your world.
It’s different, right?
I think he was a fantastic painter.
He was also like a kid, right? This childish side I think is the one that he knew to pour on the sculptures, and when you look at them you always end up laughing because there’s a lot of sense of humor contained.
He has all of that, Miró.
And then writers…
Well I like Espriu, and contemporary writers I like are Jesus Moncada, Maria Barbal, there are many good writers in Catalonia that have also helped keep the language.
They’ve kept betting on the language. Poets there’s Salvat Pappasseitt.
During the twenties and thirties, all that generation made great translations, in Catalonia there are great translators. We have Shakespeare’s masterworks translated peerlessly.
There’s an own culture that’s very strong.
Now it seems that the most international Catalan artist is Gaudi, by the way he’s being marketed. What’s your take on it?
Well, Gaudi was a genius, a great man, in that time there were many great architects.
Catalonia had the luck that those ‘indianos’ who went to Cuba and returned rich decided to promote culture. The bourgeoise took a chance for culture, Barcelona wouldn’t be what it is without it.
This Barcelona that everyone admires is because there was people who invested. Not now, nobody invests in culture now, the bourgeoise buy cars, which is another culture, right?
But Gaudi I think to be a genius, he was a man that you can like it more or less, but for me one of my favorite things by Gaudi is the ‘Parc Güell’.
I find it [?] those columns, that where there’s a corridor and there are like palm trees of sorts, the bench.
But he also counted with great artisans. In that time there were really good artisans, [paletes] to whom he told: ‘You’ve got to do it like this, the ‘trencadís” And it was them who did it, it wasn’t him who placed it piece by piece, it was a solid group of people.
For example, the Catalan builders[?] went to Paris to build stairs, because there’s this Catalan turn where they make stairs without having to put irons or beams or anything, only the turn which by the way it is made it supports the stair. And it is typical here.
The Sagrada Família was bestially big, I remember an English friend of mine who calls it the ‘crazy cathedral’, that’s how you say it right? Like crazy.
But then the inside, I was marveled by it. I couldn’t imagine I’d like it so much, because from the outside I wasn’t very partial to it, I think it’s too absurdly large.
But him, as a creator, was fantastic.
Now, of course, you can go to all the stores in the Goth neighborhood that do all this, but if he saw it he’d just die again.
I mean, he wouldn’t be able to stand it, it has nothing to do with Gaudi now.
Now that you’ve mentioned the Sagrada Família I always remember [???], who said that he hoped it would get messed up[?]. What do you think of the outside representation of Barcelona that some literary artists have done?
I think that everyone has a point of view and the things are as we perceive them.
This is like how you perceive a painting, it will tell you something, make you feel sad, happy, another one will feel scared or won’t understand it, right? The same happens with cities.
I think that this people have given a vision of the Barcelona that they have seen and it is a part of Barcelona that is sure to exist.
But it is like everywhere else, there’s a bit of everything.
The important part is that it is a view from the outside. It is interesting because sometimes it is clearer than the one that us who are inside may see, who have made it bit by bit, who make it day by day.
About your work you mentioned it that one of the first things that you did was about working with Gypsy kids. About twenty years ago.
What do you think about the Gypsy influence on Catalonia?
Catalonia has had many of the great gypsy artists, to give it a name, as well in Flamenco, which generally is the one that is more often known, great artists like Carmen Amaia, who was fantastic. An extraordinary woman, ‘bailaora’, right?
Then there’s the whole neighborhood of Gràcia, which is full of Catalan Gypsies who speak Catalan. They have settled but the still keep their own idiosyncrasy.
Gypsies are always different, right?
They made up the somorrostro for a time, living all there, the marginals, so to speak.
The Gypsy community has been a part of the history of Barcelona. For example ‘el carrer de la cera’ [lit the street of the wax], the whole neighborhood of Raval, there were many Gypsies such as ‘el Pescaílla’.
Then there’s the Catalan Rumba, which was made by ‘el Peret’ who is a Gypsy from here.
The thing is that for a long time it seemed like this was a thing that had nothing to do, and it’s not so, it is part of our culture.
Also it is important that it’s a very core part of it, I don’t think it can be ignored that it is ours as well.
And we have to love it like the other, because it is very authentic.
When you see there someone sing the ‘cante hondo’, for example, everything else vanishes. It has an extraordinary force.
It is one of the things that I think we should be happy to have, that it is a part of our culture.
And what about the more recognized as Catalans traditions, like the dace of the ‘sardana’ or the ‘castells’ [lit castles], this folklore recovery?
The ‘sardana’ isn’t very old. It’s something that was done and is part of our culture, but I think that it is more lived in some towns, such as ‘l’Escala’ [lit the stair], who have their own way to dance it, they dance it always with their arms lift up high and never letting them down.
I like the ‘sardana’ when it is popular, when it is danced with a kid that you have to grab here and another one… Where the ages are mixed and the whole town is dancing.
Everything like the clothes is put in the middle, and people dance around it. Because when they dance that purist ‘sardana’, that’s horrible.
It’s something, for me at least, that’s very cold, it lacks this force that it has when the townspeople are dancing it.
That on the one side.
The ‘castells’ is a phenomenon that I think is part of this Catalonia, that I think is the best we have, that gets together to do things.
It is something that puts together all the levels of society, from the elderly to the little kids. And everybody go as one.
Tell me a bit about your evolution as an artist, working, how has it changed since you started your artistic career in the 70s?
I started in the late sixties, in the year 68 I did my first book. I did many things, like books for furniture companies, paintings. I did a bit of everything so that I could dedicate exclusively to this.
I dedicated a long time only to working with books. Besides amateur theatre, that was always there.
Afterwards what I was always looking for was freedom while drawing. I’ve always been very structured in my drawing.
In the late 80s I managed to turn my life around: I separated, left the neighborhood…
And from here on I made a change in the way I worked, I did it more freely. It’s curios how what I was looking for I found shattering my life.
From the book “Els Nens del Mar” by Jaume Escala on, I started painting this gypsy kids. This change was felt in my illustrations, but [contrastive because next cell] I also started this parallel path with paintings.
I am the kind of person that can’t be divided. If I’m painting, I’ll only paint, if I’m drawing, only drawing.
When I’m working on a book, I can’t paint. And when I’m painting, I can’t draw, because I give my all to what I’m doing.
Painting slowly gained a lot of strength. It’s what I mentioned earlier, when you paint you pour out yourself all that you don’t know [was there] because it’s very impulsive, there’s no reflecting [thinking].
I see a child that moves me and I must paint them.
My illustration, for example, is much freer than before because painting has given me a trace and ease that I couldn’t… [get?] on paper.
And yet I’m quite limited by paper because of its size.
Right now, I’m working on a poster [bill?] and I have to do it small [compared to the size of her usual paintings it is tiny] but the trace goes a bit away.
The evolution has been… my work is like my life, it’s something that you need to live.
Because without painting or without drawing I can’t imagine myself, I couldn’t be.
My personal evolution has been closely tied with my artistic revolution. For example, these kids I paint that are exhibited on the street, the “Why?” campaign, is an expression of art. Why can’t art be on the streets? Why can’t a painting get wet? This symbolizes its message as well, that the rights of children are erased, stomped on, withered.
The fact that these pieces get torn and that they’re on the street also has a lot to do with what it tries to tell and my evolution.
Thirty years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this at all.
But as you evolve, the issue is that you get older. There are moments where your body tells you to stop.
When you are 30, you can paint for 12 hours no problem, but now when I paint five hours straight I end up exhausted.
That’s the only limitation I have now. I think I’m much more creative that years back and have many more things to tell as well.
because you’ve lived, right?
Life experience itself gives you a chance, if you can, to express yourself in a different way, from knowledge, from experience.
Now there’s this thing happening here in Spain, that there’s a law that retired people can’t earn more than what they are paid for their retirement pension.
It means that they want to kill our creativities, when it is the moment in which people are at their most able to explain things.
So this is another conflict in this country, right?
The writers can’t write or else they have to give up either the royalties or the retirement pension.
This is the only country in the world where things are like this, at least the civilized world, right?
The fight from the artistic sphere needs to be always carried on.
I think that art has to be critic, it has to be something that explains things and make the others feel reflected or feel questioned.
For me it can’t be something purely decorative, to look pretty, you know?
And I think that this fight deep down has to be always carried on so that they will respect us, it must still be carried even if you are 80. Not that I have them, but… [laughs] Not too far away now.
You were born in a culture that had very strict roles for females, with the difficulty of finding a job, and it is said that both the government and the church were accomplices in this situation.
Some that has characterized my family is that the women have never been called Mrs., the continued being Matilde Vendrell, Maria Vendrell, Esperança Tuos.
As women, they were already with their stance they were already pressing for an independence from the husband. In Catalonia, there’s also the ‘catalan right’, which has separated the possessions from the man and the woman for a really long time.
In my career, I haven’t been limited as a woman since it is a low pay job, many men who have become painters didn’t do it, so there was no sex discrimination in the illustrator career.
Personally, I haven’t lived much the repression for being a woman, but I have noticed a lot of machismo due to some situations, but not because I have personally lived it in my family. I have also fought, but not so much on a personal level as on a collective level.
For example, during the republic women were already allowed to vote, it was done in Catalonia and Spain. Then this was obviously lost because nobody could vote, but even now women don’t make as much for the same job position.
The woman, even though it is very important in this society or even imprescindible, isn’t valued enough, right?
I think many women here, for example, have had, at the beginning of the last century, to write with an alias because the woman wasn’t allowed to write.
I haven’t lived it as much because I think the republic did an amount of job in this field that prevailed a lot, specially here.
Be it how it may, I think there’s still differences between men and women in this way, the fact that for the same job a man earns more than a woman already tells everything.
You have told stories about your family, anecdotes about the immigration of Cuba, immigration from the country to the city. Is there any anecdote that is told about the civil war, for example about the bombings or the general strikes in class fighting that are tied to your family?
During the civil war, my family, my mother, my grandmother and my aunt went to prison because a neighbor denounced them for having a monk from Montserrat hidden at their place.
That women then lived the rest of her life across the street, and they were put in prison. There was then a trial and apparently my mother caught her tuberculosis there.
There was the trial and someone from the neighborhood, who was with the ‘reds’, they called themselves reds the republicans, interceded in their favor and they were not killed, but this all started due to a neighbor across the street.
That’s the horror of civil wars, for example my father was saved from being shot to death, he was going to be killed at ‘la Rebassada’ in the mountains of ‘Collcerola’ which is where they took people to be put to death by the firing squad. At the moment he was taken, my family called the midwife – you know what a midwife is, right? The woman who helps give birth.
An she, who has a fully fledged [?] woman, went down to the neighborhood where they took my father, the cheap houses of Horta, and said to them: “If you kill Ferran” that’s my father’s name “your wives will give birth alone.”
And she saved his life, because they had already taking him. My point is, just my family and look at how many things happened.
Them, after the war, one who had lived always in the neighborhood and went to school with my father, if he saw someone do not stop at twelve to sing the ‘Cara al sol’ [lit face to the sun] he would report them.
The civil war was really awful, because it was neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, there were brothers on different sides of the war, it’s tough.
For example my father-in-law was saved from being shot to death because he was who he was, because of his surname. They said “Hey, this is named Espluga, out” But he was already against the wall.
This is terrible, because these people are also left traumatised because they have killed everyone but them, being saved from being shoot while you see everyone else die.
And he was one of those on the front and as early he was on one side, that they were defeated and fought with the others, there are stories about the civil war that haven’t been yet told and everyone has lived.
There are still the common [mass¿] graves from where the people haven’t been taken out and people haven’t been able to get back their own.
There are many stories like this.
This monk, it’s just I don’t get it, why was it seen badly that they had…
Because the chaplains and monks were persecuted by the reds, those from the FAI [Iberian Anarchist Federation] and the CNT [National Work Confederation], that people.
And then they had to hide and he hid at my mother’s house.
And then this woman found out, reported on them and were taken to prison.
And this on the side of the left?
Of the left-wing these were extremists, of course, only because you’re catholic that’s it, they had to kill you when you were a beautiful people who helped others, who worked for others.
It’s this fell deeds that well, it’s people without culture on both sides who did it, they are carried away by I don’t know what.
Fanatism is bad everywhere, it is what makes people lack their own ideas, take the idea that is put in their heads and that’s the one they use.
Among your colleagues, friends from the redaction, your social circle, what did you personally think of Franco?
Well, we couldn’t stand him. [laughs]
We were absolutely against him, he and all his clique, because he couldn’t have done anything alone, they were the core of power that revolted against the republic which did it better or worse, because they did some stupid things, but they were the government chosen by the people.
He set out to impose his criteria and everyone had to be like he thought, or else…
We fought then against this.
You say that despite the ban you spoke Catalan at school, but you weren’t taught it. How was that situation?
It was really an oppressive environment, when you have a language and can’t speak or learn it, nor read or write it.
It is a violation of the rights of people, because a people need to be able to use its own culture, its own voice.
I had the luck of attending a nun school in which the director was a woman who had studied the Decroly method, and as a person she was very…
And we never really felt that oppression.
Only in the last class [subject?] I took, that nun was awful. But the others were just people, and they even talked to us in Catalan and talked among themselves in Catalan because they were Catalan.
Even this woman, named Ramona, ‘mother Ramona’, taught us for a time in Catalan.
I remember her teaching us. I remember the first dictations she made.
The issue is that it turns out that she was given a heads up and had to stop.
I’ve never been in one of those horrible schools from Franco’s regime. I lived it with a bit of liberty since nobody told us to speak Spanish at school.
But in the street things were different and you had to watch out.
Not us, we were young, but older people had more problems than we did.
Adults could be reported for [speaking Catalan]. It was a very hard time, the first years of my life, for those who had lived the war, and harder still for those who had lost it.
The winners were better off than the others.
At your parents’ place did they always speak Catalan?
Did they empower culture, what did they do in that sense?
Yes, at home we had books in Catalan. There was a man in the neighbourhood that on Sunday would go to the church’s door with a suitcase to sell books in Catalan, like tales for kids, and a lot of people bought them.
At home, there were books in Catalan, so we read in Catalan. And, specially, theatre has been key to my education.
Because at home we would perform, our uncles performed, the whole family took part of this [community?] centre where [something, maybe theatre] was made.
On my neighbourhood the theatre scene was very big, there were five theatres and everyone performed.
Theatre has been most of my cultural education. It can be even noticed on my drawings, there’s a point of view from the stage with the drapes Italian style.
It’s quite clear in the drawings how theatre has influenced me.
Culturally, I haven’t felt any repression either, since at home everyone was cultured. My father taught us to write in Catalan.
My mother, since she was sick, it was different, she couldn’t take us anywhere.
But we have indeed had an education. A cultural education, specially.
Culture has always been part of my life, ever since I was little.
This theatrical circle, were they amateurs or professionals from your family?
Back then it was amateur, but we staged some performances where people would come from many places to watch because we werer a very good troupe.
Then we formed another troupe that was called ‘Grup d’Estudis Teatrals d’Horta’ [lit Group of dramatic studies from Horta] and went to many places, like Madrid.
I have performed at the Zarzuela theatre in Madrid and the Romea here in Barcelona among others.
It was amateur but it wasn’t. I was in the foundation ‘El Teatre Lliure’ [lit the free theatre] and that is when I had to choose. Many people from ‘El Teatre Lliure’ had worked with us and I had to decide whether I kept performing or kept on drawing, a career which I had already started.
It was difficult for me to make a decision, but I believe that with the books and painting I’ve been able to express more of the things I had to say than I would have with theatre.
Theatre is much more goofy and also a group thing, but the other is a lonely job, illustration as well as painting.
It is said that the conflict was ore between bourgeoisie and the working class historically, it is what lays behind Carlism, monarchy, Franco’s regime. I don’t know what you think and I know you said you weren’t much into politics, but…
No, it’s not that I am not into politics, it’s just that I don’t know much about it.
But you can’t be into politics, because you end up living it.
I think that that’s pretty much it, I think they were losing control because the Republic was building schools for everyone, schools to make the kids think.
They weren’t the schools of only informations that Franco built afterwards, and when people has culture they have the capacity to revolt.
More than if you don’t.
And it’s probably something that still works the same way, but the class consciousness has been lost because everyone has a car, everyone has a phone…
The class consciousness was what made people get together and fight.
I think it was indeed about that, I think it was very much about that.
What was your and yours reaction to Franco’s death?
Well, we had a bottle of ‘champagne’ that it was called back then from the fridge. [riu]
We all got together to celebrate, because it was fantastic that he died.
The pity is that he died like that, he should have died earlier.
But it was a blast, yeah, yeah.
And the changes of the transition, how did you see it? Because it all happend when you were older, so you must have it more recent.
Us, our generation here and I think at a worldwide level, lived in a fantastic era, it seemed that the world had to change, it seemed that it was all working towards a happier humanity.
And we believed that.
And the music of that time, it was all pointed towards hope.
Then, of course, it was over because it was important that it was over because of what we were saying.
Every time the tentacles of power are more universals and strangled the hopes of the people.
But we lived the time of the transition with a lot of hope.
Thinking that there would be a real change, and it was felt at the beginning.
I think that a figure, and maybe they’ll contradict me, that I still appreciate was Adolfo Suárez I think that he was a man that left his beliefs to the side and worked for the country.
For me he has been the most important politician of all.
There was a time then that a fantastic television for kids was being made, tv shows had a cultural sense, during the first eight years it seemed that things were really going towards what people wanted.
But then came the second [term?] of Felipe Gonzalez who tore up the good television for kids because it made them think, they started betraying that spirit that they themselves had preached.
And I think that from here on it all went downhill, it seems that there are many liberties and that we had won many things, and that ‘Espanya va bién’ [lit Espanya is going well] but in truth the same are ruling and the same are stealing.
The worst is that people have now no capacity to react.
I don’t know how the kids will grow up, but one of the things that the people of my generation have had to swallow up is the belief that we would change the world and that we haven’t been able to.
And not only here, I think the situation on a worldwide level isn’t very hopeful either, even though there’s a lot of unseen people that works for the good of others and works for society from deep down under.
And it’s not good that this is widely know, but actually the world moves by the will of the people, no the way it is organized.
And this is the real hope, the fact that the people collaborates with things, helps, and is aware that they live in society.
But on a politic level I’m not happy, I think it’s gone way backwards.
Which was your first reaction to the changes of the constitution when it arrived? Maybe the day of the constitution [Dec 6], besides of the long weekend that is always nice, is a day that you remember for having lived it, because is only a long resting weekend and that’s it.
I remember the day we voted the constitution, more so because an aunt of mine had died, the woman who had made it possible for my uncles and mother to have a degree.
The constitution was also hope, something that was widely agreed upon so that we could advance a project of democracy.
The problem is that it is anchored there.
And here in Catalonia there was another, we gained an ‘estatut’, then we made another ‘estatut’ that Spain took down and from there on the more hard conflict has started.
Because the will of the people who voted, who voted yes, hasn’t been respected.
Then this constitution
can’t be touched only when it suits them, because when they need to they change the articles without having to do any referendum, so it is there and is now obsolete, not valid.
Spain has changed, and the people have changed, and the political situation has changed.
Then I can’t see that it is a constitution that shelters us, but rather that blocks us.
We talked about a bit, with the anecdote of the monk of Montserrat, about religion. It can be seen how the city has a turbulent relationship with the catholic church. Besides this, do you want to talk of conflicts with religion that have happened in your family?
Not in my family, but rather since they liked it already, they believed in it and didn’t live it in a conflictive way, only during the time of the civil war.
The ones that have had more conflict with ourselves is the second generation, so to speak, because we have started questioning things and couldn’t use the “because i said so” and the ones that have broken with such a doctrinal thing.
Religion suffocated reality, instead of being something to help us live for ourselves.
But there weren’t conflicts, because who didn’t want to go didn’t go, participate didn’t participate, and who did want to, did.
We didn’t live that, not in my house.
When you had this conflict between theater and arts, what did push you towards arts?
I reached a decision that makes me laugh a bit, I had my little daughters, two little daughters who were four or two years old, and first I already had some books done and a career started professionally.
And then I thought, if I make theater I’ll grow apart, have troubles with the family which I already had, I did end up divorcing.
But it was one of the things that tied me up, the idea of “I’ll break my life, that can’t be.”
I also think that inside there was this thing that with plastic arts I have been able to express more this world that I had inside, which maybe I couldn’t have achieved with theater.
I am happy with the work that I’ve done, because I realize through the feedback I have with people, the kids are now teens or adults and have kids, how this magic of the books returns to you, to see that what you’ve done makes sense, you know? That’s beautiful.
How do you see the support of arts from public school, specially primary and secondary education? How do you feel that art is taught?
It’s not taught.
It is nonexistent, when it works it is becauser there are teachers who have this vocation to make art a part of it [class].
There are extraordinary schools.
I have gone to schools where they do fantastic plastic works.
But it’s always the teachers, not because the establishment considers art important to the education of children.
The subject is often taken away, there are no specialized people and you can’t expect a teacher to be able to draw.
Maybe he can transmit it, but there’s no reason why it should be him doing it.
But it really isn’t given the value it has, because the children with plastic expression can gain many things.
They can develop a lot of themselves and express themselves.
If this is absent or exists marginally, that it is done as a duty, so to speak, it makes no sense.
It makes sense when it is part of the school’s education.
Last year I went to a school where they did a work based on “WHY?” image, they worked all year in the topic of the refugees, the war, the rights of childreen, from the kids in P3 to those that were about to leave for high-school. [!!]
They worked it in an extraordinary plastic way.
A school in a town called ‘L’Estrell’.
A public school, eh.
It is a model of how art can help children the things that are happening.
Do you think that your art was affected by the cultural repression of Franco’s time or that it has changed since before and after this event?
I think that Franco’s repression didn’t affect me in an artistic way, because at school we drew copying, like they still do in many schools.
I used to draw at home and have no consciousness of the repression affecting me, because when I was fifteen I went to the Massana school and there we studied drawing, painting, there wasn’t a ban on all this, and I was able to learn and develop without conflict.
But while in plastic arts there was no such repression, it has happened in music, the people who used words.
In that case there has been repression, yes.
When they passed the amnesty law, what was your reaction? Was it something you discussed with your colleagues, partners?
Amnesty was a demand for which we fought a lot.
“Llibertat, amnistia i estatut d’autonomia” [lit Freedom, amnesty and autonomy statute] was the repeated slogan at demonstrations.
Amnesty was needed to start again, if there was no amnesty it meant that nothing had changed, because lots of prisoners were in jail for politic reasons, not because they were thieves or murderers.
So us, as young people, fought to make it real.
It took a while to become real, but we finally managed to achieve it.
What was your reaction during the coup of the 81? Well, the attempt at a coup.
The attempt at a coup actually was a coup, but it didn’t last long.
The attempt at a coup d’état of the 81 was something that affected us a lot, and all of us remember where we were when we found out.
I remember that I had gone to buy milk to a place where they sold it fresh and that man told me: “Don’t you know what happened?” I had no clue
And the fear to lose everything that was accomplished with so much effort came back.
Luckily it was something short lived, but it did serve to go a bit backwards.
It was taken advantage of.
For example in Catalonia there were many youths singing in Catalan, who has already a place in society, who had sung a lot, they got their subventions cut, this all goes back to that.
Something happened in the coup that made something stop.
What is the view of the more militarized point of view of ETA’s [Basque Homeland and Liberty] nationalism from the Catalan nationalism?
I’s a matter of identity as a people.
We had, for a long time, an army called the ‘almogàvers’ [often translated as almogavars, etimology unclear but most likely from Arabic] and they did a lot of bad and were very warlike. They were mercenaries under the service of the government here.
They had a lot of bloodlust and I think there’s still a saying in Turkey that means ‘go, the Catalans are coming’. During a time, we were…
Not the people, rather the rulers, who were counts. It was a different system.
But generally Catalan people are very pacific, diplomatic and business-like rather than armed fighters.
When we were young, we admired the existence of an armed group in the Basque Country. But there were some deaths that we didn’t understand, murders we didn’t understand, and others we did.
But we never understood the fight as a fight where you had to kill to get what you want.
Here we have a civic society that I think is key. It is very intellectual and is committed to the process of an independent Catalonia.
But it is pacifist, nothing happens on the demonstrations of millions of people in the streets, no incidents when people demonstrate in a ludic [lit] way. I think it’s a sample of how we aren’t a warrior people, we are a people that fights in a pacific way.
And the way ETA was seen after the attacks in Barcelona like the one in the 87 and the bomb cars, how did all this change?
It’s what I was telling you, that there were things about ETA that we understood and others we didn’t and have never shared.
The issue with the Hipercor deed is that it seems that ETA gave a lot of warnings to get the people out but [the government] decided not to do it so as not to create alarm.
They gave warning. This isn’t a justification at all, it’s not like they would place a bomb and ran away, but they gave warning: “There’s a bomb, there’s a bomb, there’s a bomb.”
I’ve never shared this… Us, my friends and people we’ve talked with, can’t approve of it. There’s too much suffering behind all that.
There’s also that in the Basque Country there’s an economic deal much better than ours. Some of the rulers here who negotiated during the statute could have got a better deal but didn’t. The problem is that there were so many things.
I, for example, that day had to go shop at the Hipercor. I would once every one or two weeks go shop there with the car and load a lot of stuff, but I got lazy. My point is that it could have happened to any of us.
I think that bombs don’t help solve anything.
Did your art ever have anything in it about Catalan history, identity, politics?
No, my work focused on a time on feelings, later social issues. But I think I’ve never done anything political.
Popular topics I’ve used, all that’s history, culture, but not…
I don’t really like the topic of Catalan nationalism because I don’t think it is a question of nationalism.
I had done political acts on the street, for example, during Franco’s time I painted a mural on the stree, on my neighborhood, I don’t know how meters long to protest, another one for the amnesty precisely.
I have done that for a long while, I militated on the PSUC [Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia], I was someone who wanted to improve society.
But when I’ve signed my work, politically no… But I do think there’s a social thinking behind it that is what I think is me.
If the others around me are not well, I can’t be well, I don’t understand how you can have a company and paying people so that they can’t live with dignity, I don’t understand how someone can have that mind, I can’t understand it.
I think these people who act like this are devolved, not evolved.
Well, if it’s not politic, talk us a bit about your art. About the means you use, the topics you like working most, and maybe a bit about “Why?” too.
I have dabbled a bit in all techniques, you know?
When I have worked on books I have used the technique that it seemed to express better what I wanted to express, more refined techniques, coarser techniques, that would help me work along with what I was interpreting.
I made it visible, as García Marquez said to me, to whom I illustrated some books.
He dedicated one of the books I had illustrated for him saying “I have written so that Carmen would make it visible.”
Make it visible is what illustrators do, right?
We make visible what is written or what isn’t written.
Usually when you illustrate you interpret, you don’t draw what the text says but rather do it your own way and add things.
I think I have used all the techniques there are but doing them in my own way.
A good water-color painter, if they look at how I use water-color they will probably say that I don’t know how to do it, because I work in another way, I don’t do that thing where colors are put one over the other, I paint directly.
And with paint I had worked a lot with oils until I got poisoned once while working on a very big piece, and now I either work with a mask or can’t paint with oil.
Then I worked with acrylic and maybe you don’t get the same result but you can express as well what you want with carylic and it doesn’t have that problem.
And those are the two techniques, well I’ve also sculpted, I shape the clay and then cook it and then make it bronze or anything, right?
But I’m not one of those artists that put a lot of material, I like the trace and I like paint.
Everything else I don’t care much for.
And the “Why?”, well I don’t use a treated fabric, but I purchase some slightly thick fabric and then pain straight using acrylic, using only black, with a bit of red pigment because it sometimes bursts and you can see some red stains.
Then I varnish it and make some holes so that they can be hanged from balconies.
I’ve also realized that those I work with a lot of material rip more than the others, the latest ones I’m doing again like the first ones, few material.
The tension between the fabric and the material makes it rip.
But it is very simple, it’s like a great nope about this kids I want to portrait.
What’s really interesting is watching how, in an exhibition I made in a town called Ripoll where the whole exhibit were children of wars, the little kids barely three years old understood it.
They told their parents that they wanted to go back to see the sad kids.
What I have realized is that whether I’m painting or drawing I have the capacity or the luck to reach the public to which it is targeted, which ultimately is all the public, because I think that for example a good book for children has to be liked by elders as well, otherwise it doesn’t count.
I mean, those books that are only so that children will be entertained and you look at them and say damn, that’s stupid, it doesn’t create interest.
But when you do something to express things you get there as well, and this is a surprise I had on that topic.
What I’d really like to explain about “Why?” is that it’s been almost three years that we’ve been working on this on the street, and the repercussion it is having, it is very interesting how people feel interpellated.
I’ve had many experiences with people that when they know that it is me… first, because they think that I am a young man and a graffiti artist, that’s interesting.
Because maybe they have a strength that maybe doesn’t look like a 70 year old person could have it, right?
Also the feedback was very important in this campaign, seeing how people feel touched. [?]
The fact that it’s on the street, which is a part of moving art to the streets like many who paint walls do, is a bit transgressor.
But the fact that they are on balconies they think “What is this, this question?”
But then people generally realize that it is a denounce, not to embellish.
The balconies where they are, are they from friends, acquaintances and so or do you look people up and see if they are interested? How do you choose the places?
At first with “Why?” we looked for known people who lent us their balconies, because this is something that isn’t sold, I lend these pictures.
They would lend us their balconies to put it on, and we know a lot of people in Barcelona and…
But afterwards it has been people who through the web or through friends or whatever they have made contact with us and offered us the balconies of their homes.
And so it has been growing: at first we went out to look for it, but then it came to us on its own.
What do you think of passion, the goal of the artists of the artist work of Barcelona, how has it been affected between the repression of Franco’s regime and the evolution until now? How has art evolved since then?
I think art has evolved a bit after the same fashion that it evolves in other places, I don’t think it is different in this moment.
A lot of things are made, the issue is that they end up being shown.
For example, I have never shown my works in a gallery in Barcelona. Yet.
Well, a long time ago I made an exhibit in a very small gallery, and some years back again in a gallery that closed up.
But with a gallerist like… I haven’t been there.
Like me, many people who works and are good artists never make it there.
I think that deep down in the time of Franco there were few people who painted and there were good painters already, but it was a thing that didn’t disturb.
People could paint, there could be exhibits of art in great galleries.
But some topics couldn’t be dealt with, Picasso’s Guernica could not come into the country until there was the democracy, for example.
A painting that was straightforward… The others were more surrealists, they could maybe express things, but since they weren’t understood it was allowed.
I think that art in itself, the creative act is enriching to the one who does it, but if it doesn’t reach anyone it’s very frustrating, since you do it to show it, to share it, so that it can be seen.
Then I think that it’s not better or worse than in other places, the issue would be that maybe there aren’t many places where to show it.
Except for the streets. [laughs]
Catalan modernism is specially know for its architecture, but regarding painting and illustration, do you think it’s a style that still lives on?
Catalan modernism does still last in some areas. [?]
For example in illustration, there’s a whole current of illustrators who drink from that fountain of the first illustrators of the ending of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th.
A connection can be clearly felt.
In architecture I think not, even though there are very good architects, that’s impossible to repeat.
But there are no longer the artisans or the money, nor is it the moment either, I think architecture is going somewhere else.
Even though for me it’s a very important art because everyone suffers it or everyone enjoys it, being a public thing so to speak, is one of the most important arts actually.
Then, regarding the others…
On the modernist era there were also many good painters but they were stuck in the movements of the time.
And sculptors, here we have Joan Llimona who was a magnificent sculptor, among many others.
But for mi this one has some pieces of a brutal strength.
There have always been good artists, there were painters such as Cases, such as Lluïsa Vidal, Rossinyol, who made some splèndid gardens.
There have always been good painters, the issue is that for example there’s a whole generation of painter who here, in Catalonia, have no museum where to be shown.
Because there’s the ‘Almanac’ and the MACBA [Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona]. The MACBA is installations, modern things that don’t… well, it’s fine, and then all the old things are on Montjuïc.
But there’s a whole range of painters who are very good but have no place, no museum to join pick them up.
And this is one of the things that I was saying before, the lack of infrastructures.
Catalonia, having this great tradition of illustration ever since the 19th century has no illustration museum.
Of course, that would be a thing that could bring a lot of people, would be useful to the people from here and an attraction for the people from outside, because illustration is quite popular.
I made an exhibition on the year 2001 and was full of my work and was very visited, and the people enjoyed seeing the drawings because the people see themselves a lot in illustration.
It’s been a bit, I don’t know if I answered the question.
And other artistic movements that you think have influence Catalan art and its artists?
Yes, there have been artistic movements. I think that the time of cubism, all of them have lived in Paris which maybe was the center where people from all around joined.
They weren’t exactly all French those who did those movements, right?
I think that art, like everything has been something that has had influences from here and there.
African art, for example has influenced many a great painter, Picasso among them.
This is what he said, we all have a father and a mother, what we have to be is ourselves.
He had the capacity of moving all that influences you somewhere else.
For example, I’ve really liked the Anglo-Saxon illustrators, the English ones, Étienne Delessert, who is Swiss, who are people who renewed a lot illustration in the 60s.
Of course, we all have influenced, and i think art has this that we call fashions.
Maybe they are fashions or maybe needs that make the time express in a way or another.
Of course, with the arrival of photography, art had to change.
After it everything realist was bad, then everything had to be this so intellectualized thing that nobody understand or that they understand among themselves and you either like it or not.
With the installations, the video, all that which comes with the time and the elements that society has been incorporing, technologies.
And then there’s the snipers who keep painting, like Barceló, who is apart from fashions, we could say, he paints his own thing.
I think that what the artist has to do is paint or do what he has inside being transgressor. For example I saw an exhibit at the Picasso museum that was Picasso and its time, the influence of Picasso on other artists.
But also about the influence that was about him in African art, which is why there were some masks of some Africans in Benín the name of its sculptors I can’t recall, but they were made with pieces of drums and car batteries.
Everything that is tossed there they recover and turn it into sculptures absolutely rooted on their history but of actuality [?] and they were brutal, great. Impressive.
I think art has this good part, you take some things to create others, that’s the good part.
How changes from the Olympic games the perception of everyday and artistic life in the city? And for you?
The Olympic games were an extraordinary change in the city, to which at the beginning we looked with skepticism because it was destroying things we considered important.
I think that Pascual Maragall, who was the best mayor we’ve had, was a person with a great foresight and a very wide view of things, very cult.
His grandfather was the great poet Joan Maragall
He dreamed this city, I don’t know if in the way it is now.
Because the city changed for good, it opened towards the sea, it widened, it grew in a very well planned way.
For example, one of the things that those Olympic games had was that all the installations that were used have been used afterwards, nothing was built that was useless.
For the first time the Olympic games had help from voluntary workers, which made that they worked so well.
Afterwards, other places have also used voluntary workers, but it was Barcelona the first that used this system to make things work.
As I was saying, people here collaborate in things.
It was a moment when it seemed that Barcelona was going to grow and upen up even more.
This, with time, has grown in a way that isn’t liked much by those who are from here, because the food is all the same, everything is repeated, shops have horrible souvenirs and have nothing to do with it.
It’s gotten a bit out of hand, what is offered to tourism rather than the tourism itself.
I think the Olympic games were great, they gave a lot of projection and now it’s a bit that we don’t quite know what to do with all this.
We are maybe being a bit overwhelmed because all that was planned was great, but then all that wasn’t planted is what has messed up things.
It’s again an expensive city, which makes that people from neighborhoods have to leave, first on the Born, not it’s the surroundings of the Market of ‘Sant Antoni’….
All of this makes that Barcelona doesn’t stop being this city so pretty that it is now, so welcoming.
That has a lot to give.