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In the Studio with Víctor Manzanal

The works of Spanish multi-disciplinary artist Víctor Manzanal revolve around the idea of human nature and its borders with the animal, the vegetable or the inert. We met with Víctor to tell us more about growing up in Pamplona and the unique events of his life which have transformed his works.

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

I started to be fascinated by art quite early. There came a point as a teenager where being an artist was the only thing I wanted to do. It was not a very conscious decision either, but it is the only way to relate to the world that I’ve conceived since then. On the other hand, I have to say that I´ve never seen myself completely as an artist, every time I finish an artwork I have the feeling that it is a bit the result of chance.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like? How has this impacted your work?

I am from Pamplona, ​​in Navarra, north of Spain. The climate and the landscape here I think have marked me a lot, it´s something that influences your character. My first contact with art was through books, especially classical art. Later I got to know contemporary art but that classical background is something that is still very present in me.

I am from Pamplona, ​​in Navarra, north of Spain. The climate and the landscape here I think have marked me a lot, it´s something that influences your character. My first contact with art was through books, especially classical art. Later I got to know contemporary art but that classical background is something that is still very present in me.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. 

I went to Bilbao to study Fine art, at that time I was interested mainly in painting, later I developed more interest in sculpture. Regardless of what I learned or not in college, at that time I met some artists who marked me and they were very important years to develop as an artist and focus my path.

What’s the message of your work?

I don’t think that my work has a unique or completely defined message, but I do believe that there are ideas, emotions or interests behind it that arise over and over again. I think the idea of ​​the transcendence, the destruction or the permanence of things is important in my work. Lately I am working on the human figure with distortions that suggest a state near disappearance. I believe that in the end all my work responds to my fear of death, insignificance and lack of meaning.

Who and what are your greatest influences? 

There are influences that form the basis of your inner world and others that are constantly emerging and can come from the most diverse sources.

 Of the first, I could mention Greek sculpture, European medieval art from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The Spanish carving with special fascination for Pedro de Mena and in general the religious art of many cultures.

Also novels, comics, poetry and cinema are things that I really enjoy and in which I find inspiration.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

Sometimes I get ideas watching my daughter’s cartoons.

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

Sometimes my work start with a definite idea but most of the time it is a more intuitive and exploratory process.

I believe that art is an act of communication and I am not in favor of making it more confusing or cryptic than necessary. In my case it arises out of necessity and I try not to think too much of the viewer when I do it. If it later reaches those who see it or like it, it is fine, if not, nothing happens. You don’t have to give it that much importance, I think.

What event in your life have mobilized change in your practice/aesthetic?

The events of my life are affecting and transforming me and therefore my work, but I do not see a direct or chronological correlation.

Starting to handle digital 3d tools has had a great impact on the way I work, which has become more fluid and has opened up many possibilities for experimentation..

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

I am satisfied with having space and time to work. Some works that I am most satisfied with have not exactly emerged under ideal conditions.

Tell us about the inspirations behind one of your pieces?

Not long ago, I read about the Big Rip theory, which proposes that dark energy will overcome gravity causing the elements of the universe to separate. 

I thought about applying that idea to the human body and from there came the piece that I titled with the same name, Big rip. In it,I wanted to show that idea of ​​a body that begins to expand and lose cohesion.

 I’m interested in transformation processes and wondering how far the essence of something can be maintained, what it becomes and what remains of the above.

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