During the interview with Placet Magazine, Salustiano talked about his inspiration in creating artworks.
• Why only the colour orange (or red or black)?
I like absolutes.
• Why circular canvases?
I work exclusively with three elements – the human figure, a plain background and a format. The format is very important to me. The tense balance between the figure and the backdrop of the painting that contains it is seminal in my work. The circumference is a perfect geometrical shape. After my son, Horacio, was born, life seemed perfect to me, like that, so using a circle for my paintings was just a reference to what I was living at that moment. A tribute to welcome him.
• You say that the inspiration for your recent works comes from Pop culture and advertising. Where have you come from and what was the journey like?
In the past, classical art was restrained by a great number of conditioning factors, of many types. Within those tight constraints, fabulous works of art, capable of engaging the emotions of the spectator, were created. Today, art enjoys complete freedom and I see many artists who are lost in that freedom. Advertisers, on the other hand, have more limits to their freedom and I believe that many of them have achieved results that are tremendously evocative and full of intent, and transmit, most importantly – clear and effective messages. For that reason, I like to keep an eye on what’s happened and what’s happening in the world of advertising.
Also, curiously, a great deal of advertising is directly inspired by classical religious art. I like pop art and pop culture. I think everybody likes it, don’t they? As an artist, I deliberately position myself on the ‘bright side’ of art: Matisse, Warhol, Fragonard or Tiepolo. Travelling impregnates you with pop culture: airport lights, petrol stations, products of the 24-hour shops, lit-up vending machines, motels, and the smiles of flight attendants and secretaries… it’s all very ‘pop’. In this latest collection, ON THE ROAD, there are hints of pop – but subdued hints. I don’t like to be too obvious in my work.
• Why and how have you let new colours into your paintings?
Each change of colour is the result of a long period of reflection. First, I choose the colour and then the perfect tone. In the case of the orange, I tried to achieve the voluptuous ‘taste of orange’ that comes across in those verses of Guillaume Apollinaire and feels to my taste buds like those fizzing vitamin C tablets.
And I peel for my friends Oranges with the marvellous Taste of fireworks
• Who are your models?
My models are normal people. They don’t need to be beautiful but I have to sense that they can help me transmit a particular emotion. Having said that, I’d like to make it clear that although I work with real models, my work doesn’t portray real people but rather an idealized version of them. They appear in my paintings like Dorian Gray appeared in his portrait. What I mean is that all traces of disappointment or frustration have been wiped off their faces. That’s why people identify with my paintings: they’re a mirror that reflects the image of what they themselves long to be.
• What’s your opinion the world of art at this moment – seen from the viewpoint of the digital learning of new generations and globalization, or seen from the legacy of your generation?
I don’t know. I go to a lot of art fairs in Asia, Europe and America, and I sometimes miss a little more reflection in the works I see. I feel that if we artists are not careful, the frantic rhythm of art fairs and exhibitions can pressure us into producing work which is rushed and lacks reflection. And above all, art is reflection. Reflection and respect. Respect for the people who contemplate your work. We should always keep in mind as we work that the spectator is a person who is emotionally and intellectually prepared. This seems obvious, but it’s not always so obvious when you stroll around art fairs and galleries.
As artists, we should prepare ourselves more and better to achieve the best of ourselves, just as other professionals – doctors, insurance agents, plumbers and architects – do in their own fields. We should also be alert to the reality around us, to scientific advances, to politics, and to society and culture. One has to be up to date to assimilate reality and want to improve it.
• What attitude should a spectator have when looking at any work of art?
‘Spectator’ and ‘expectations’ share a common root. Because of that, I imagine that it’s impossible for a spectator to contemplate a work of art without expectations. But this is the way we should face not only art, but life as well.
• What does Seville give to you and how does Madrid inspire you (if it does)?
Seville is wonderful in various ways, and so is Madrid.
• What do you like to do when you put down your brushes?
Travel. Very far and very near. Always close to nature, the wilder the better. It’s in those savage landscapes that I find myself. And that’s what it’s about, right?
Interview by Javier Estrada, English translation by Salustiano office.
See more Salustiano works here.