The gallery has resumed its activity with a very special exhibition of the artist Carlos Albert, as it is the first one in which his sculptures and collages in bright colors are presented exclusively. We spoke with the artist about the exhibition and about the situation of the pandemic in Madrid.
CARLOS ALBERT: THE ROAD TO COLOUR. FROM CUBA TO MADRID
-The sculptures in the exhibition "Space and Color" are a sign of optimism in these difficult times. There are many people who have passed by the gallery and found the joy that comes from your works. What has changed in you that you have started to work with so much colors?
Two reasons have led me to use colors. The first is that I turned forty in 2018 and I felt that this was a milestone and I wanted to make some changes. I gradually became aware of the transience of material things, no matter how robust or durable they may seem. I felt the need to express with a "cry" how beautiful life can be lived despite difficult moments. And I decided to complement the volume and form of my sculptures with a fresh and spontaneous color language, without losing respect for the nature of precious materials.
The second reason was that in the same year, when I was invited to participate in the 13th Havana Biennial with the sculpture project "Behind the Wall", it was suggested to me that it should be located at the meeting and social place par excellence in Cuba: the Malecón of Havana, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. For this event, I decided to develop a work that was coherent with me and this place, and I presented a 4 meters long red sculpture. Afterwards I wanted to experiment with other colors in the following works.
-This is the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to color in sculptures and collages, although they are not the first you have made. You had previously worked with red in some large-format works, including the work exhibited at the Havana Biennial. But now other colors have come into play. Do you express your feelings of this moment better through color?
In fact, I have allowed myself to flirt with color since I started making sculptures. But my participation in the Havana Biennial marked a before and an after.
In December 2019 I also presented colored works in Miami, some of them in large format. Specifically, two of the works were four and five meters high, and both were painted in a stimulating red RAL3020. In Spain it is colloquially called "Ferrari red". It is a primary color of incomparable strength, full of symbolism and connotations, ranging from passion, love or sexuality to anger, warmongering or simply danger. In any case, "Space and Color" at Galerie 100 Kubik is the first exhibition in which color runs as a red thread through the works.
I believe that color should be understood as an integral part of the sculptural form, and that it brings beauty and emotional expression.
-What do you take to account when you pick a color? Does the shape itself indicate this?
It does. When I start a new work, I am very intuitive with the form and let the sculpture grow and enter into dialogue with me. In the same way, the color is suggested to me by the sculpture itself. When I know that it will be blue, for example, I change the tones until I find exactly the tone that fits into the work for me.
-Will you continue to make sculptures in the natural color of iron and steel? Or is it something you have left behind?
Currently, I feel the need to look more closely at color and all the sculptural resources it can offer. However, from time to time I return to the natural surface of iron or corten steel in some new works. Sometimes I resort to these natural colors to combine different surfaces, for example I combine polished with painted stainless steel.
-Your sculptures are lines in space or sometimes shapes that embrace space. Do you think that color changes this function in any way? Maybe they have less drama?
I think that the essential element of sculpture, understood as a thought and not as an object, is volume. Color can influence the feelings of the viewer, whether in natural or strong tones. But it does not make the sculpture better or worse, it is an option. My task as an artist is to use the means at my disposal (glazes, textures, industrial surface treatments and of course color) to give a work a positive vibration.
-fortunately you were able to finish the works in the exhibition, and they arrived in Spain on one of the last transports before the general restriction. Tell us, how do you live this situation with your family? How long are you locked up?
Everything happens very quickly and unexpectedly, so I still find it incredible how things have developed. It is particularly tragic in Madrid, and although some of us took measures before the government imposed them, the escalation of infections and deaths is enormous, and we all have family, friends or acquaintances who have died in the terrible conditions of loneliness brought on by the pandemic. At present, my wife and children have been in strict isolation for almost two months, and I have simply used this time to make many sketches and works on paper that will help me in my future work.
It seems that the contagion is gradually receding and a still exceptional and dramatic situation is normalizing, while the economic and social panorama is more uncertain than ever. The Spanish economy is faltering and culture and the arts are playing a minor role, at least for the time being, with the only hope for the sector being to weather the storm, as usual, with effort, tenacity and the support of the population.
The good part of all this is spending time with the family and restructuring priorities. We are gradually beginning to appreciate the essential things we have and which, unfortunately, we often overlook.
-How do you think this situation will affect you as an artist?
Art emerges from the essential, especially in the most difficult moments. Nevertheless, it is true that we need institutional and private support to develop new projects. One of the most important projects for me right now is an exhibition in a museum. I have to wait and see if that can be realized. We must all wait and see how the current situation develops.
I believe that many artists and galleries will be forced to stop their activities because of this situation.
Thank you, Carlos, and a lot of strength for the whole family