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Javier Infantes an Andalusian living in New York. Estepona is his home town.

by Maria Elena Paganini

 


“Perhaps we are what we remember. Memories make us who we are”.

-Javier, you are one of those painters who have succeeded in carving yourself a great path in the difficult world of art in New York City. How much is down to effort, to creativity, to technique and to just plain luck?
It all starts by preparing yourself properly in the beginning and feeling the need to constantly create and innovate inside your head. For this I chose two universities in two very different cities in Spain, but it is no more than just the beginning. You have to continue preparing yourself every day. The life of an artist is a career of great depth, not of speed. The effort and sacrifice that an artist goes through are enormous in any part of the world, but even more so in New York, even more so if you are a foreigner and you have to adapt to a new country where culture, society, thought processes and languages are different. You cannot allow yourself to fail at any single moment, and if you do, you have to get up again immediately and continue with even more energy if possible. You make the sacrifice of being far away from your family and losing all those moments with them in order to follow a vocation and a dream. Terribly hard. Only those who go through this know what it is like. It is not even worth thinking about. On the other hand, creativity, experimentation and technique are also crucial, you have to continually cultivate them in order to help yourself to bring an idea to its physical form. Luck is always welcome, but you have to look for it, provoke it, and even deserve it. Luck can be important when it comes to meeting someone influential, or making contacts, but it does not influence the quality of your painting, this has to be YOUR work, for better or for worse, this depends upon your preparation, your knowledge and your work. It is thanks to all this effort that my work has been appreciated and acquired in various countries in Europe as well as certain cities in the United States. It is a great honour for me that one of my most distinguished clients in New York (apart from being the Sponsor of my Artist’s visa in the US, and my friend), is Mr. Frucher, Vice Chairman of the NASDAQ OMX Group.

-You are not an improviser, you have studied a great deal and in great Spanish universities such as that of Seville and of Madrid, but what is it that makes an expert in the world of art place your work up at the same level as names such as Andy Warhol, Murakami or Keith Haring, amongst others?
It was a great honour to be chosen to exhibit my work in the impressive Waterfall Mansion, amongst other well-known artists of contemporary art in the last decades and on a world-wide level. The exhibition took place during the Festival of Art “FEEL LIFE”, organized by Kate Shin. It was a great reward for all the work I had done during so many years. Thanks to this exhibition I appeared in a fantastic article in the top art magazine in Spain, “Discover Art”, written by Manuel Rodriguez Pardo.
Before being chosen to exhibit in Waterfall Mansion, I had done two separate exhibitions in Manhattan, one in Chelsea and the other in Midtown. I had also participated in a collective exposition in Lower East Side. It was a progressive and logical development. Recently I was selected once again to take part in international collective expositions in places such as Woodward Gallery in Lower East Side and Caelum Gallery organized by Art Takes Manhattan in Chelsea.
What influence has this beautiful city on the Costa del Sol, Estepona, had on you and on your creative spirit?
The light of the Mediterranean Sea stays with you forever. I was very lucky to have been born near the sea, with so much history and culture. The blues of the crystalline sea and its brilliant reflections. The sky, the clean and transparent air – I would say that all these have had a never ending influence on my work. As well as all the energy, the joy and the warmth that radiates from this land.

-You have succeeded in becoming a prophet in your land now that the Town Hall of Estepona has asked you to paint a large mural in the city centre?
Yes, it was a mural commissioned by the Association of Town Halls of the Costa del Sol and the Town Hall of Estepona. I am very grateful to the people of my home town for having asked for one of my works for their city. It makes you feel very good when they still remember you. I am always bringing the name of Estepona with me wherever I go, I try to make it known internationally and I always include it by my name in any exposition that I may take part in or in any magazine that I appear in.
It was a pleasure to come all the way from New York in order to paint this mural, and at the same time to hold an individual exhibition commissioned by Conchi Alvarez in the Stoa Gallery of Estepona a year earlier.
-You are an excellent portrait painter, however you have changed the direction of your work in New York, for example, to epoxy paint. Why do you like working with a material that is so seldom used by other artists?
In my case I don’t find great differences between imagination and the abstract. I am a painter who loves painting above all, in its very essence. For me painting is the need of the human being to leave his prints behind for posterity, amongst other things. It has been so ever since the first bison appeared in cave paintings. Painting has not changed much since then. Therefore I love to leave my print behind for posterity on canvas; if this footprint, this memory is recorded in a portrait or an abstract image, well so be it, it doesn’t matter, it is circumstantial. I deal with painting in its entirety, all of it. I do not separate anything, I learn from everything. Epoxy paint can fit perfectly into the idea, the concept. I work from memory and epoxy paint serves as a container of my memories, emotions, sentiments, which all form a fundamental part of the human make up when it comes to creating our identities.

-An artist’s spirit is full of emotions and conflicts, what does Javier Infantes’ spirit contain?
For me painting is the food of the spirit. It is also its medicine. Painting becomes a medicine that helps to cure many illnesses and helps us to live.
Furthermore, I see the creative process as a vehicle for knowledge, a form of investigation. A way in which we can submerge ourselves into what it is to be a human being, and his identity. Memory is fundamental. I believe that we are what we remember, memories are what make us what we are. They shape our identity. Epoxy paint helps me to speak of time and its memories. It acts as a transparent container where certain elements exist, which represent, for example, our memories and emotions, and which define our identity; these remain caught up in the epoxy, remaining unchangeable forever. This is the pursuit of Utopia, the fight to remain eternal with fragile memories. To a certain extent it means going against nature. Painting allows you to do these things.
You are going to stay for some months in Europe but still remain in contact with your American galleries and collectors. At the moment you have a very interesting project in the pipeline which involves introducing art education as an essential part of the human’s educational process.

As I said before, painting, the Arts, feed the spirit and help us to get to know ourselves, amongst many other functions. Therefore I believe that learning all these things have a tremendous importance in education thanks to the deep effects of visual language. And this can be done by providing specific workshops and courses to those who are interested, whether it be in the United States or in Europe. It could be an interesting idea.
 
 

Published in Blog de Maria Elena Paganini |