In the Studio with Diego Palacios

Chilean artist Diego Palacios strives to show us direct representations of the real world to make us empathise with it once again, describing his aesthetic as a multi-layered electronic baroque dance of dusty sexually alive portraiture. We met with Diego to find out about his lengthy journey towards becoming an artist and his future plans.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist? 

Funny you ask. This morning, really. I have always been creating stuff, since lower school when I would draw incessantly. But to feel like ‘an artist’, has only ever felt natural when other people have seen me as one. I did always feel like I wanted to do artistic-creative stuff, though, yes.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?
I grew up in Santiago de Chile. My childhood was happy. My father and grandpa were cinema aficionados, but my family was not artsy. I guess the big role imagination had in my childhood could perhaps be the only thing that has extended into my work. Although all this is probably more complicated than what I have just said, and doing art could be fuelled by complex subconscious family dynamics? This could also fit. 
Credit to Florian Shurz
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. Have you gone through the traditional route of art school and what was your experience?  

Not really, no. As a teenager I wanted to be a rock musician, I played in a band. Then I came out with the bad idea of studying economics, in part from external influence. With a lot of pain I finished these studies. My dad said to me, “If you finish your studies you can do whatever you want”. By then most had already received a job offer and remain in the biz. I applied for theatre school in Paris and luckily enough I got accepted. Then I dropped out. Then I studied wine… but it was not for me. Then I just started to paint. One day it became evident to me that it was my vocation, that it was what was buried in me, and ever since, it is all I have done. I had seen painters in Leipzig and in Berlin and I understood I would gladly do that. The influence of my good friend Guillermo Lorca also played a role.

What’s the message of your work? How would you describe your aesthetic?

I have had the feeling that we are (kind of) going through a 2nd iconoclastic war since early 20th century. The art world is forbidding to show direct representations of the real world, only its shadows. 

I am trying to bring the real world back to us, or to make us empathise with it. But then technology comes in and puts a distance between us and our world. I am trying to convey this idea somehow.

The themes are usually related to intimacy, but can also be purely aesthetic or talk about art history. Their purpose is to search for meaning. They come from wherever I can find them, mostly in my mind and heart, on the internet, on the street.

I’d describe my aesthetic as multi-layered electronic baroque dance of dusty sexually alive portraiture.

Credit to Florian Shurz

Are your works planned? What do you want people to take from your work when they view it? 

They are very planned and calculated. I aim to have an emotional connection with the viewer. I do have the audience in my mind, but only in the back of my head: it is too serious to have it made for selling or to be liked, although of course I love it when people like them and that it is part of my practice.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

Lucian Freud, Rembrandt, the Chapman Brothers, Adam Lupton, Guillermo Lorca, Penny Monogiou and many more.

Unfinished self-portrait by Lucian Freud, circa 1980

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

Feeling good, stable, calm. To me these make good conditions. Being fucked up is to me a worse state of mind for creating artworks. 

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise? How has your art evolved? 

A big step was to stop minding my technique so much, for me that came when I had done enough technical paintings. That happened when I moved from France to Leipzig in Germany, as a resident at LIA at the Spinnerei. The evolution since then has been organic, so to speak. I do stick to oil painting and I do not feel I experiment much, I am more of a constant student of the same subject matter and it does get deeper after all. My work is very parameterised, although I do experiment with the limits of these parameters.

What are your goals for the future?

To advance and dare to try new things, to free myself from rules. To put up a nice new exhibition.

How have you been keeping creative during isolation?

Yes, I made a small home studio. I decided I would start again to paint meticulously.

Credit to Florian Shurz
Palacios' Studio Dietzold, in Leutzsch


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