Me expulsaron del colegio a la edad de 14 años, la pedagogía de los hermanos maristas no encajaba muy bien en mi ansia de descubrir el mundo. Tras un periplo por distintas alternativas que mi familia decidió para encarrilarme, me dejaron por imposible a la edad de 17 años. Desde pequeño tuve cierta habilidad para el dibujo, y cuando quedé libre de obligaciones académicas, me dediqué a él con todas mis fuerzas y debilidades. A los 18 años, conseguí algo de dinero vendiendo mi colección de discos y una flauta travesera y me fui a Holanda. Aquello fue determinante para mí: pude visitar museos y conocer a gente que vivía de lo que creaba. Resistí unos meses por allí, vendiendo algunos dibujos e incluso me editaron un par de posters. Cuando volví, entré de aprendiz en una marmolería, donde estuve tres años aprendiendo los entresijos de la piedra y, en el tiempo libre pintaba, participaba en conciertos y devoraba todo lo que caía en mis manos que guardase relación con el arte.
Siempre he estado interesado en aprender. Creo que siempre se asimilan cosas nuevas si uno se conserva en un estado de observación adecuado, y por otra parte me aterra pensar en esa otra postura del que cree que ya sabe lo suficiente. La realidad es algo que hay que ir desentrañando y no algo que se absorbe de golpe (…. ) (…) Soy un eterno aprendiz. El arte, tal vez a diferencia de otras disciplinas, no progresa, sino que evoluciona. Esto lo puedes corroborar al mirar atrás, a obras tuyas de hace algún tiempo. Aunque técnicamente sean correctas, es fácil que se te caigan, que les encuentres errores.
Creo que existen dos tipos de maestros: el que te examina y al que tú examinas. Por mis circunstancias he tenido más contacto con el segundo tipo, al que reconozco a primera vista.
Quizás mis ideas sobre el Arte no coincidan con las de la mayoría, pero me basta con encontrar ciertas voces que defienden ideas muy parecidas, y que quizás sí son idealistas por su gran dosis de esperanza en el ser humano.Robert Walser, Giacomo Manzú, Krystof Penderecki, Peter Greenaway, Gerhard Lentink, Ambrose Bierce,…algunos amigos….. y tantos otros.Cuando era joven recuerdo como me impactaron los surrealistas. Llegando a empujarme a un modo tanto formal como de proceso a la hora de trabajar. Si tenemos en cuenta que lo que hago ahora es una evolución de lo que hacía antes, puede que estos sean los influjos más claros a nivel estilístico. Actualmente me interesan más otras corrientes posthistoricistas, pero claro, el estilo de cada uno se va encalleciendo con los años y ya no se incorporan tan fácilmente los hallazgos de otros.De un modo u otro, todo lo que me interesa me termina influyendo.
Al Arte nada le es ajeno. El Arte debe tener componentes científicos y filosóficos y por supuesto una buena dosis de espiritualidad bien entendida, no dogmática sino de búsqueda de lo elevado. El Arte es un sacerdocio.
Artista multidisciplinar es lo mismo que decir buscador, no te aportan lo mismo la poesía que la escultura, aunque tengan puntos en común, también poseen singularidades enriquecedoras. Si utilizas el Arte como vía de discernimiento un mismo concepto puede sorprenderte al trasladarlo a distintas disciplinas artísticas.
La música en mí es una patología, enfermé de ella a una edad muy temprana y aún no me he restablecido del todo. En una época de mi vida me dediqué a ella de un modo profesional, e incluso llegué a intervenir en algunos grupos y grabaciones. Luego siempre la he utilizado en solitario, aunque reconozco que no puedo pasar sin apuntar algo de vez en cuando.
Por supuesto, me resultaría insoportable hacer lo que más me gusta sin pasármelo bien. En el proceso creativo hay componentes dramáticos que hay que suavizar para hacerlos más llevaderos. Por otra parte el buen tono creo que es algo que hay que reivindicar.
Perturbar es una de las funciones del arte; si mi obra perturba me doy por satisfecho. En cambio no intento atemorizar a nadie, si alguien siente temor ante una de mis obras es porque tiene miedo de algo que carga en su interior.
Cuando plasmo la naturaleza en mis obras procuro hacerlo de un modo en el que no necesariamente aparezca el biotopo. En una obra de arte el autor crea y determina todo el ecosistema, no sólo particularidades de determinado paisaje o lugar. Mis conocimientos sobre medicina natural y botánica los utilizo para tratar algunas molestias y para decorar el patio de mi casa.
Mi casa se parece a la línea de marea de las playas, en ella se depositan los recuerdos de todos las flujos anteriores. O, por decirlo de un modo menos poético, soy un “chatarrero vocacional”.
En el plano de lo simbólico, el material es concluyente, si realizásemos una obra escultórica donde representáramos una casa, no significaría lo mismo si la realizáramos en hojaldre que en acero. En cuanto a que disciplina artística utilicemos, sigamos con el mismo ejemplo: Tomemos esta casa y fotografiémosla, al hacerlo estamos incluyendo un factor nuevo: el recuerdo, y por este acto ha pasado a ser y significar otra cosa. Existen disciplinas artísticas en que la coherencia entre la idea y el material utilizado para su ejecución es de una importancia capital, un ejemplo de esto es la arquitectura, esa forma de “escultura habitable”, a nadie en su sano juicio se le ocurriría hacerse una casa con agua, pero los baremos cambian dependiendo de las circunstancias, los esquimales construyen sus casas con agua y gracias a esto pueden conservar su juicio. La incoherencia radica en intentar hacer una casa con agua en el trópico, a lo máximo que llegas es a darte una ducha, lo cual tampoco está nada mal. Te intento decir con esto que, la coherencia o incoherencia, en la práctica están más relacionadas con el conjunto idea-realización-ubicación.
Creo recordar que fue con un tríptico, un óleo titulado Babel. El tema me lo pedía. Y ahí surgió una vía que aun me complace, me siento especialmente atraído por la mezcla, me gusta mezclar distintos ingredientes en mi obras, me aburre la búsqueda de la pureza en cualquiera de sus formas, demasiados estragos se han producido ya a causa de esta quimera. Soy alérgico a la pureza.
(extracto de la conversación mantenida entre Francisco M. Cano y L. Quintero en agosto de 2006 publicada en el catálogo “TEMPVS” editado por Caja San Fernando)
The following conversation with Luis Quintero took place at his house in Chiclana, Cádiz, in August, 2006
Paco Cano: You´ve always been obsessed with knowledge, and the road which leads to it – learning.
Luis Quintero: I´ve always been interested in learning. I don´t think that people ever stops absorbing new information as long as they remain observant enough. And I´m also terrified of being one of those people who believe that they already know enough. Reality is something needs a proccess of constant discovery, not something which you can `get ´in one go.
PC: And that´s how you´ve become interested in areas which run parallel to artistic knowledge, artistic realities: science, religion, poetry…
LQ: Everything is connected to Art. Art has to have scientific and philosophical components and obviously a good dose of spiritualy; not in a dogmatic sense but as a search for the exalted. Art as a priesthood.
PC: A priesthood which you exercise through a number of disciplines…
LQ: The multidisciplinary artist is just like any seeker. Poetry doesn´t give you the same things that sculpture does, because although they have some things in common each is enriched by its own peculiarities. If you use Art as a discernment tool, the same concept can often surprise you when you transfer it from one artistic discipline to another.
PC: And if your case, that incluyes music…
LQ: Music is like an illness for me, which I `caught´ when I was very young and still haven´t completely got over. There was a time when I was envolved professionaly, and I placed in a few groups and on a couple records. After that, it was always a solitary thing for me, although I realise that I can never get by without getting something down sometimes.
PC: You were denied the usual road to knowledge, but another way in oponed up for you…
LQ: I was expelled from school at 14, because the way the Marist Brotherhood taught didn´t really fit in with my thrist for world discovery. After traipsing round the various alternatives my family chose to get me on the right track, at 17 everyone gave up on me. I was quiet good at drawing from an early age, and when I got free of all those academic obligations, I dedicated all my strengths and weaknesses to it. At 18 I raised a bit of money by selling my record collection and a flute I had and I went to Holland. That was a turning point for me: I was able to visit museums and to meet people who actually lived by what they created. I managed to stay for a few months by selling a few drawings and a couple of posters were actually made of my work. When I got back, I joined a marble mason´s workshops as an apprentice, and spent the next three years there, learning all the stone´s secrets and then, in my free time, painting, doing concerts and gobbling up anything and everything connected with art that I came across.
PC: And you had the opportunity of learning from people who really knew. Do you acknowledge any masters?
LQ: I think there are two kinds of masters: those who examine you, and those who you examine. Because of my situation, I´ve had more contact with the second kind, who I can recognise at frist sight.
PC: This apprentisceship and curiosity, or thrist, are never satisfied, and you continue to add any discipline you can to an everwidening range.
LQ: Of course – I am the eternal apprentice. Art, unlike other disciplines, perhaps, does not progress, it evolves. You can see that by looping back at your own work from some time before. Although they may be fine technically, they will very probably disappoint you – you´ll find a lot of faults in them.
PC: Digital photography, computers… have you ever thought of getting into new media – video art?
LQ: The modern viewer´s perception is conditioned by new image technology. These days, the tradicional techniques of information transfer, through painting, sculpture or other arts don´t reach everybody anymore. They´ve been relegated to something for an elite. The moder viewer is informed by media whose raw material is the actual image. This create a form of perception where anything which uses other raw materials in its structure is going to have a hard time generating any fluid discourse. I´m interested in connecting with the other person, in creating complicity, so I don´t dismiss other kinds of complementary expression which make it easier for this to happen. Photography is very powerful in the connections it can make with the viever, who finds it easier to understand something which he can do himself – everybody´s taken a photo at some time. This closeness also means that he can have critical judgement. I think that´s one of the reasons why photography and cinema have so much power in modern society.
PC: Don´t you get a feeling of vertigo from the infinite possibilities that have oponed up in information over the last few years?
LQ: On the one hand, I think it´s fantastic that with all the new technologies these days, we can access so much information from our own homes, but you have to be extremely careful when it comes to sifting through it all. If you really want to go into something, you have to search and search.
PC: So much groundbreaking technology, but all of it aimed at reinventing the already classics ( mythology, iconography, tales from the past, classic texts and so on) or revisiting it whith a fresh, contemporary approach.
LQ: The classical in art is always being reinvented, the difficult thing is improving on it. These days, there´s a certain amount of mistrust when people look at the classical, which is another mistake that is always being made in this avalanche of knowledge. We musn´t forget that `classical´ means insuperable within its own field. If anything good comes of revisiting a classic it´s either because it evolves through its own actualization, Thereby becoming another classic, or because it keeps itself within the guidelines of an exegesis.
PC: Eugenio d´Ors ´ maxim that “ What doesn´t grow out of tradition is plagiarism” or knowledge as construction on what is already known…
L.Q: Knowledge shapes what is hidden. Originaly has become a point of obsesion with us.
P.C: Your way of creating – your “ modus facendi” – is, shall we say, fairly orthodox, academic and tradicional, quite the opposite of your “ modus dicendi”, your semantic side, which is unorthodox and subversive…
L.Q: There is one technique necessary to undertake a piece of work, there aren´t various different ways of painting in oils, carving stone or developing photographs. The technical nuances which an artist brings are minimal variations on something which has been stripped down until it´s reached the right way of being done. On the other hand, I do believe it´s important that there are as many voices as possible – orthodoxy in thought is castration: if we accept the dogma we run the risk of saying nothing at all.
P.C: That doesn´t mean that you never set yourself technical or investigative chalenges.
L.Q: You have to adapt the technique to your capabilities, it ia a process of fitting them together where these capabilities themselves also increase. A symbiosis which smoothes over the creative process is established.
P.C: And that makes you want to experiment with new materials and new media.
L.Q: The material is what determines the king of work, it´s part of what it expresses. If I Discovery a material which gives me the possibility of something different from what I ussually use, I Incorporate it into my work without hesitation; if I play around with this new material and find after a bit that I like it, ideas of what I can create with it start to flood out.
P.C: Have there been any recent discoveries like that?
L.Q: The word as a conductor for various different realities.
P.C: Which was already present in your work, wasn´t it? When, and for what reasons, does text appear in your sculptural, pictorial or photographic pieces?
L.Q: I seem to remember that it was in a triptych, an oil painting called Babel. The subject matter demanded it. And through that I found a path which still pleases me. I feel particularly attracted by mixture, I like mixing different ingredients into my works, and I get bored searching for purity in any of its forms. There has already been too much destruction because of that idea. I´m allergic to purity.
P.C: What value do you place on the acrostic? Does it have any hidden meaning, or is it just a linguistic game?
L.Q: The acrostic makes it possible to divide the work into layers, It gives the signifier various signifieds; it´s as if the dada reality were divided up into various possible readings which complement and enlarge the message. Doing it in a lighthearted way in which the whole thing is like solving a puzzle is, I think, a way of tempering the reading.
P.C: Is there some playfulness and humour in all your work?
L.Q: Of course there is – it would be unbearable for me to do what I like most without enjoying myself. The creative process has dramatic components which need softening to make them more bearable. Though I do think it´s very important to keep a certain level.
P.C: Even if it sometimes produces a disturbing – even frightening – feeling?
L.Q: One of art´s functions is to disturb; if my work disturbs, I´m happy. Having said that, I´m not trying to scare anyone. If someone feels fear when they look at one of my works, it´s because they are scared of something inside themselves.
P.C: Is there a particular meaning behind your search for the eschatological, everything connected with the beyond?
P.C: It seems to approach the world of Romanticism. So, through being schematic, it comes close to a mystic, idealist concept of art.
L.Q: Maybe my ideas on art don´t coincide with those of most people, but it´s enough for me just to come across ocasional voices which defend similar ideas, and which might be idealist in terms of the huge amount of hope they have in mankind.
P.C: Can you specify any particular voices?
L.Q: Robert Walser, Giacomo Manzú, Krzystof Penderecki, Peter Greenaway, Gerhard Lentink, Ambroise Bierce…a few friends… so many more.
P.C: What other creative spirits do you acknowledge as influences?
L.Q: When I was young, I remember how bowled over I was by the surrealist. It pushed me towards a particular mode of working in terms of both the form and the work process itself. If we remenber that what I am doing now is an evolution from what I used to do, then these might be my most obvious influences in terms of style. At the moment I´m more interested in other post-historic currents, but of course, one´s style sets as the years go by, and other people´s discoveries can´t be mixed in so easily.
P.C: And any more distant voices – that haven´t influenced you exactly, but which you find interesting?
L.Q: Everything I find interesting ends up influencing me in one way or another.
P.C: What does the presence of animals add to your work?
L.Q: On the one hand, it´s to counterbalance the anthropomorphism of a fairly high percentage of my work. On the other, it provides the possibility of camouflage in animal forms, which I use as a metaphors for man – my animals are us.
P.C: In other words, we´re talking about fables.
L.Q: You Could say that, yes.
P.C: Because it´s almost paradoxical that for all your knowledge of natural medicine and your love of botany, nature really doesn´t appear much in your works.
L.Q: When I decict nature in my works, I try to do it in a way in which the natural habitat can´t necessarily be seen. In a work of art, the artist creates and determines the whole ecosystem, not just the specifics of a particular landscape or place. I use my knowledge of natural medicine and botany to deal with some minor ailments and to make my patio look nice.
P.C: A patio which is something like a curious cabinet, where a visitor to your house might find a variety of instrument sets, strange objects, bird skulls, old advertising material and all kinds of gadgets. Collections? Curiosity? A taste for the unusual…?
L.Q: My house is like the tide line on a beach, where all the souvenirs from previous waves are washed up. Or, to put it less poetically, I´m a “ vocational scrap merchant”.
P.C: The pieces which perhaps get closest to your taste for these kinds of objects are the box-sculptures: Cajavara and Doctrina…
L.Q: It is true that they are unique in my work insofar as these two pieces represent objects and not specifically living beings, but they also contain a conceptual argument in which human greed and “ blind faith” are questioned. The former points to the delusion that the miser himself creates, where in all his pointless, insistent hoarding he forgets his own condition of finiteness.
Doctrina is an exercise in criticism of the acceptance of a dogma and of the foolish conformity to any kind of theory of redemption.
P.C: As I understand it, what is being questioned in them is perception and, therefore, reality.
L.Q: What´s being questioned is a way of seeing reality, showing other ways of approaching it.
P.C: In fact, the acrostics which form the titles of each box question the straightforward reading that the pieces put forward, don´t they?
L.Q: “ A vuestro ánimo remedo indolente cuando insistís abriéndome” ( Translator´s note: acrostic of “avaricia” ( greed) – meaning I Lazily imitate your soul when you insist on opening me). There is another one inside the box to complete the set which reads: “ Aquí véome atrapado repitiendo infinitamente cada imagen ahora” ( I see myself trapped here infinitely repeating each image now) and between the two sentences there is a confrontation, or as the Spanish saying goes: “ Greed will tear the bag” ( Translator´s note: more or less “ There is enough in the world for everyone´s need, but not enough for everyone´s greed.”). The piece contains a summary of its meaning in one of the elements of its composition: the hinge, which is also a lock, the opening which is also a closing device, the trap.
“ Deciden otros cubrir tus retinas impidiendo nuevas aperturas” ( Translator´s note: acrostic of “ doctrina”- which means Others decide to cover your retinas, blocking new openings). In this one, the image of the key which is repeated into infinity is trying to break down the idea of oneness which all doctrines seek to impose, showing multiple views of a key which is not seen directly, only reflected in mirrors. Through this game with mirrors, the space that we inhabit is recreated and questioned. They are boxes, but they are also portraits of common features.
P.C: While we´re on the subject of oneness… I´d like to remark on the fact that you sometimes deal with one subject using various techniques, and the single idea becomes a whole range of different posibilities. Is that how you see it?
L.Q: As I said before, reality means realities, or as Wagensberg put it, on the subject of reality “There is nothing less reliable than an unchanging truth”. Multiple meanings are inevitable when a conversation is begun. I would say that the posibilities are endles.
P.C: My question revolves more around the posibilities of expression that you can get from an idea depending on whether you execute it as photography, painting or sculpture – and in sculpture, what material you use – and whether you believe that there is any cohesion between the idea and the technique used for its realisation.
L.Q: On a synbolic level, the material is decisive: if we do a sculpture representing a house, it would not have the same meaning if it was done in pastry as it would in steel. As for which artistic discipline we use, let us continue with the same example. Let´s say we photograph the house: by doing so, we are introducing a new factor: memory. Through this act, it has come to be, and to signify, something different. There are disciplines where the cohesion between the idea and the material used for the work´s realisation is fundamental. One example would be architecture, that kind of “ inhabitable sculpture”. No sane person would consider building himself a house out of water, but the criteria change depending on the circumstances: Eskimos build their houses out of water, and that is precislely how they remain sane. Lack of cohesion occurs when you try to build a house out of water in the tropics: the only thing you´ll get is a shower, which is no bad thing. What I am trying to say is that cohesion or lack of cohesion are in actual practice more closely connected to the unit idea-execution-place.
P.C: With reference to that sentence of Wagensberg´s, I once hear you say that you were terrified of absolute truths, and that your truths are very unstable.
L.Q: And my lies even more so.
P.C: This is doubt as a means of knowing.
L.Q: Is there any other?
P.C: I have also heard you say that time is life, and that life is man and therefore knowledge. That was the germ of the idea I had for your “ Tempus” exhibition – so, thanks.
L.Q: Thanks germs.