Posted on Original-Signature (Singapure)

October, 2015.

Language: English
Categories: Magazine Collab

VICTOR CASTILLO (Santiago, 1973) is a Chilean artist who, strictly connected with the city of Barcelona, is actually based in Los Angeles.

Persuaded by the idea of a unity wherein everything is connected and various elements depend on each other serving themselves mutually, he defines his work as a "hybrid", as the result of the convergence of various paths, which go through the fields of critique, sensuality and fear up to hope.

Self-educated artist and celebrated exponent of the Low Brow Art, Castillo finds out in painting a strong communicative medium able to shock people and prompt them to think. Born in 1973, the same year of the military coup in Chile, most of his production is centered on the criticism of a society dominated by lies, the horrors of the dictatorships and the theme of colonization.

In the same way of the U.S.A. and its televisions have deviously shaped and hidden propaganda messages behind the iconography of their cartoons, Victor adopts this type of aesthetics to rediscover his own personal language. The characters in his paintings reinvent tales imposing their both fascinating and terrifying presences, revealing us the secret thread that knits together the naivety and the cruelty representing the double face of childhood.

Through a connection with his inner emotional sphere and establishing an empathic approach to the environment, the artist reconnect us with the universality of mankind's feelings, to portray the violence inherent to the human being nature, the brutality of ambition, fear, corruption, envy, as well as love, passion and sensuality.

Precisely on the theme of sensuality, deemed as an unavoidable part of life, and on the joy of pleasure and beauty, we must delight in order not to empty our existence, Castillo centers his newest project, titled "Pure Pleasure", his temporary pause to social criticism, whose he is going to say something about right now.

As well-known, your work shows an obscure and dark imaginary that contrasts with your nature. It doesn't express your intimate and inner being but better your vision about the world, the reality and the society. How has the Chilean dictatorship influenced you?

Very deeply. The dictatorship lasted 15 years, even though it seems it's still going on. Sometimes I'm trying to get out of it, but it's truly impossible. During my childhood, the dictatorship influenced on my country by establishing the censorship. There was really few of cultural, there were almost no art galleries. The principal media channel was the TV and its constantly bombing from Hollywood.
I grew up watching the American cartoons and loving them as drawings of very good quality. At the beginning they looks so naive and childish and it was just later when you find out their double sense. There's a sort of indoctrination for children in them. A form of strong domination and alienation at the same time. For this reason, it's not so rare that people grown up in my country feel this irrational love for the States and they are limited by this culture.

During my adolescence I started to realize what had really been happening and what actually meant living the brutal repression. Of course, all this generated a disappointment towards the state, the government, the official and the institutions. I'm still disillusioned and the actual crisis it's a proof of my ideas.

Another fundamental event that might have leave a mark on your life was the experience at the School Art...

Well, at the Art Academy, more or less the same happened.
In all my childhood I had been drawing in a completely spontaneous way so when I arrived at the Academy I had already reached a personal artistic experience. They aimed at "clearing" you, turning you into a product of them. I tried to resist until I had to abandon the school. No professors wanted to give me painting lessons and I didn't degree, but the day I left the school, that's was the day I felt an artist for the first time. According to the academics, I was not a painter, but an illustrator. But, in my opinion, everything has been done with painting actually, so putting any kind of canons make no sense anymore.

Certainly, I respect the artists who choose to follow the academic career, but I think they do this because they are frighten to be independent. In this century it is very risky. But I prefer feeling free more than safe under an institution that directs and manipulates me. The problem is that Academy should be an instrument, but unfortunately is turn into a discourse. This make Chilean art so conservative and connected to the Art school.

For all these reasons, obviously, you was rather forced to leave Chile.

Yes, of course. Well, firstly I moved to Barcelona in 2004 thanks to an invitation at the BAC!, the contemporary art festival made in Barcelona. I arrived in a very good period and the city truly changed his life, opening up several possibility for my career in Europe. I begun to work for the Iguapop Gallery and my works become to be recognized internationally. But suddenly, due to the economical crisis, the art market deteriorated rapidly, in Spain and in all Europe, and in 2008 everything was already changed. I stayed in Barcelona until the Iguapop Gallery closed in 2010. Actually I'm based in Los Angeles, but I keep loving Barcelona so I'm used to spend many time here. Another European city to which I'm particularly connected - even due to its art market - is Berlin.

Then, your speech suggests you aren't very interested in being identified with the Pop Surrealism movement.

Really, I don't feel very identified with Pop Surrealism even though many people have always associated me with this movement. Maybe due to an article written on the newspaper "El País" in 2007 where they said that I was a member of it. Perhaps I'm more connected to Lowbrow art, as an art outside of the Academy, and influenced by the pop culture. It's a wider movement with a more social feature. The Pop Surrealism is more specific. It should be considered as a part of Lowbrow Art, but they cannot identify. Pop Surrealism is about dreamy, about a peculiar kind of beauty, languid women with big eyes ... I'm not really into this, although my new project presents these elements.

So, can you reveal us something about your new project "Pure Pleasure"?

Last year I started a new project, under the title "Pure Pleasure", with the Merry Karnowsky Gallery (that represents me in L.A.) . I 'm creating erotic works with languid women. I've been working in Barcelona even thought, unfortunately, the project is not destined to Barcelona. After all these years painting mad guys and diabolical children, suddenly I need to take a break so I'm realizing works with girls. Thinking on politics all time gets tired, as talking about the horrible world where we live in. Life gets its attractive side, as well, and we must enjoy pleasure and sensuality. It's important as much as music. Just imagine a world without music, or without sensuality ... On the other hand, this doesn't mean I'm abandoning the subject of criticism. It's just a pause I needed, for painting for pleasure.

Finally, I would like to better know your opinion on the painter Francisco Goya.

Well, for sure I may regard Francisco Goya as a sort of mentor. Since I have never had painting classes, I never felt a deep romance for painting but I always considered it as something practical, as a communicative medium. My first paintings were flat, with very flat colors, pop and very graphic, looking like cartoons. I was in Louvre but for some reason I wasn't shocked by the artworks presented in this museum. But when I went to the Prado in Madrid and I saw the work by Goya for the first time, well, in this moment I perceived a change inside me. Really I cannot explain it well … I felt to be in front of something deeply authentic and there I understood why many people think Goya is the first modern artist. He realized to blend the classical, the ancient and the savage style in a very expressive and dark way, revealing a very modern attitude at this time. It was the first time I was intensely touched by a painting.

I was shocked also by the dark atmosphere in his paintings, then bound with the Obscurantism present for so long time in Spain because of the inauspicious influence of religion. So I decide to use it also in my works. Starting from this point, I've discovered a new whole universe, investigating all time and developing a new study of light on my paintings.