Sometimes art completes what nature cannot create; at other times, art imitates nature.
Aristotle, Physics II.8
Time stands still in Palo Alto, the oldest Cultural Factory of Barcelona. It was founded as the Hangar by artists and creatives long before city technicians and managers discovered industrial buildings as an ideal complement for district 22@ and a marketing strategy for Barcelona. Ivy covers the walls and light streams in through the windows; creativity reigns here since nearly 30 years. Great creativity, the sort that cannot be programmed.
Víctor Pérez Porro has been here since the very first day. He has spent his life here and in the Empordà, going back and forth in such as way as to become one with his work in this welcoming and peaceful studio.
-In the beginning, I looked around a lot… medicine, architecture… and finally I went to Brooklyn to visit, to live. There I was an assistant for the excellent mural painter Lucrecia Moroni. And so I discovered a trade I really enjoyed: the trompe l’oeil. I discovered that if I learnt to master this art I would be doing something that reflected all that was important to me. This aided me in finding my master in Brussels: Van der Kellen. But I didn’t stay there. An artist lives in a constant quest in which his art is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Art is not only a profession; it is an attitude. In 1966 I won a scholarship for the Academia de España in Rome. This turned my career around 180 degrees. In Rome I discovered that I could take a piece of wall and put it into a frame. I learnt to “destroy” reality to express something I had inside, and to paint it. Changing mural painting for an easel has changed the way I regard painting. I had already learnt the alchemy of painting, its techniques, pigments, textures, and materials. But something changed in the objective and in the way of using them. I have always been conscious of the fact that many people have worked with these materials before me. They have all together contributed discoveries, variations and improvements to reach our present level of knowledge. How to work with lime, for example. Pompey, the frescoes in baroque palaces, the painting of romanticism. Now I no longer think about this all the time, but it is there in my rucksack. Painting has freed me from commissions but not from my trade, which gives me so much. I give it all I have; it holds it all up. My trade is the opposite of theory, and to it I always return.
He makes me think of all the painters who have plied their trade without fame or even authorship. And of so many artists that have worked in studios, in family enterprises, as anonymous painters, even if their signature became a symbol of western painting in later centuries.
On the wall and outside of the wall reside abstractions as a continuum that suggests melodies through colors and simple geometric patterns.
Abstraction to me is a path to beauty. It has something to do with simplicity and with mathematics. Although nobody notices, there are numerical relations in all of my works, and they are very important in my creations. Sometimes I use exact measurements and calculations, at other times it is the result of a natural flow. Proportion and measurements are always present, but sometimes they arise without my noticing.
I work for space, although each work stands alone. It travels and has its own history far away from me. If I get a proposal for an exhibition with sufficient advance time, I make a model and try out how the works will look together in that space. Dialogue between the works is very important in an exhibition. Sometimes I paint the wall, and the paintings then blend in. Of course, if I already have finished paintings, I adapt and seek the most harmonious way of presenting them. But the model is very important; it allows me to see what will happen in three dimensions. This is also something that comes from my origin as a mural painter. I think my whole creative process is evolving towards a return to the wall, but coming from a completely different direction. To paint is an insecure path and a very lonely one. As a painter, I am not always sure what I am doing. Sometimes I feel the weight of the uselessness of art. Especially in the present world in which everything is fast, everything is consumed rapidly, and whatever has lost its use is thrown out. Sometimes I ask myself what it is I am doing here in my studio with my paints and lines. What is the use of what I do? But at the same time I realize, that I cannot do anything else. This is what I can offer and this is what I need. That is why I am still here and here you will find me fighting with my work and enjoying it. In Palo Alto.
Text: Clara Garí
Photographs: Helena Poch