Art is an expression of what it means to be human, it allows us to communicate from afar, and allows us to come together collectively. From 2020 to present, we are still dealing with a global pandemic. From another perspective, the restrictions on freedom may be a re-evolution of art. While we wait for that to emerge, we asked several artists to open up about their challenge in this new normal of life during these strange days.
1/ 嗨Daniel, 你今天早上鬧鐘響起後第一件想到的事？
Hi Daniel, what was the first thing you thought of when your alarm went off this morning?
Almost every day I wake up disappointed of the lack of energy and will I feel, especially when the night before I had so much of it as well as ideas and desire to work…I try…but I have never been a morning person. I guess I am like a lizard who needs to stay in the sun to recharge.
How you are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Spain?
I must say I am happily surprised with the overall behavior of Spaniards. I was not very sure of how we were going to cope with following so many rules and kept locked for so long. I am usually pessimistic about humankind species but must say it has given me hope. I have seen many uncivil behaviors, but so many more acts of generosity, empathy, kindness and hard working together. I believe people have given an example to many Spanish politicians who just used the crisis for their own political interests.
To what extent has your everyday life as an artist changed in quarantine?
My studio is connected to my house, which means I spend most of the time isolated already. For that reason I have not experienced so much of a change. My working days have not changed much.
My work is inspired deeply by nature, anthropology, biology…I have always thought we were living a very pleasant “environmental moment” knowing nature is rough. Uncountable species have appeared, evolved, disappeared due to bacteria, viruses which as well do appear, modify, die…Living is a sort of a miracle when one realize how nature works. This epidemic is a reality check in my opinion
Who and what comfort you?
What comforts me the most is to dive into water every now and then, especially when I am stressed. My family and friends give me comfort and joy. But must admit my life is quite lonely since I live by myself and live and work at the same place. Every day I go twice to the same Cafeteria, where very good Friends of mine work. This I do so I leave my house at least two times a day and get some refreshment and some laughs with my Friends. I guess I am quite contradictory and complicated. I usually feel the need of loneliness and isolation and at the same time fear loneliness and isolation.
Most of my old Friends are raising kids, moved to the suburbs…so I see then less often. I am 45, I don’t even have a girlfriend …I feel I am Lost in Time 😃
I once read is common to feel the need of diving into water when one feels stressed. I’ve read as well that it might has to do with feeling relaxed, protected and secure as we were before born in the amniotic liquid that protected us. Makes sense to me
If you’d known that you’d be so isolated for so long, what would you have done differently?
當西班牙宣布封鎖時，我正在希臘雅典的一個藝術家住所。我設法趕上了最後一班飛往馬德里的航班，然後回到西班牙南部的家。在當時，一位來自柏林的朋友戴安娜正在我家，原先我應該是要在希臘住一個月的。我們一起分享了那段時光，因為她當時認為封鎖很快就會結束。封城從一開始的2週，最終超過了 3 個月。 我和戴安娜互相照顧，一起玩得很開心，還制定了一套鍛煉計劃。我們打了很多桌球因為原先工作的桌子就是張乒乓球桌，同時也持續著各自的工作。我們在生活中尋找快樂，否則這只會是個孤獨且悲傷的時期。
I was so lucky in my isolation that can only think of so many ways it could have gone worst.
I was at an artist residence in Athens, Greece when Spain announced the lockdown. I managed to catch the last available flight to Madrid and then back home in south Spain. By that time my friend Diana from Berlin was spending the month I was supposed to be spending in Greece at my house. She decided to stay thinking lockdown will pass soon. So we shared that time together. Lockdown started being of two weeks and ended up being of more than 3 months. Diana and I got care of each other and had fun together, created a routine of exercises. My working studio table is in fact a ping pong table so did played a lot, and could also continue our respective works. We managed to get joy of a period that otherwise would have been of loneness and sadness.
Restrictions are slowly being lifted in Spain, what are your plans?
In a few days I am traveling north to spend two months among Galicia and Asturias. Not exactly a holiday for I will continue working. But definitely a change. Where I live gets very hot and crowed in the summer time, plus there are usually no waves on the beaches.
I restarted doing surf when I turned 40. It’s what gives me more fun and joy lately. The contact with the ocean has a sort of a pleasant, recharging and healing effect. I used to do a lot of skateboarding and surfing when was much younger, but broken two bones at my ankle, had two surgeries and after that quit.
I guess I am in the middle of mi 40’s crisis and try to recuperate time. Or at least use the one left better.
Up north Spain is much cooler, a perfect weather in my opinion in the summertime and there are waves almost everyday. The rest of the year is too rainy. My parents and me are building a house to share in Galicia to spent the upcoming summers. I am very excited with that project.
Daniel, your paintings are commonly referred to as Baroque paintings. Can you comment a bit on this historical referencing? What Baroque represents to you, and how you got inspired by it?
In the Baroque period tons of portrait were executed. Usually illustrious portraits, images that focused on the importance of the human character represented. An ode to humanity greatness in my opinion. And framing style of that period was fancy, voluptuous, ostentatious and even overwhelming.
I like my paintings to have a Baroque feeling specially on the framing. My compositions are not Baroque at all, but try to reach a certain sense of that greatness and voluptuous to contrast the fact that what is portrayed might be a monkey or a Sesame Street character.
Where does your imagery come from?
What do you hope someone might think when they discover one of your paintings 100 years from now?
To laugh and to think mostly. Two years ago I was at the opening of an exhibition of mine in Paris. The gallery that held the exhibit is in a very popular area so many people came in just by curiosity while walking by. Most of them could not stop laughing at many paintings when reading the labels of the titles on the frames. I am quite shy often and sometimes don’t enjoy much openings, but I felt so satisfied when hearing those honest and spontaneous laughs.
Also to think why those works were done, to rethink our concepts of ourselves as humans in contradiction with our concepts of the rest of living species. Biology says we are all the same (in fact most species are way much much older than us and have managed to survive all this time…not sure we will) …why do we act the way we do, why do we have such a high concept of ourselves?
We love the humor in your work and it always comes out in the eyes. Are your paintings equally serious and funny?
Yes. I think my paintings are very much like me. I have been chased by existential matters since very young. Since then usually feel the need of satisfying my curiosity and to learn about what I believe to be profound matters. That is a part of me, the other part is that I cannot help thinking and saying all kinds of silly things. The most stupid the most joy I get from them.
I have gotten to believe that humor is a mechanism that helps intelligence to deal with reality. To have a conscience, to be aware of death, sickness, suffering…I believe would be unbearable without it. The fact that most intelligent species develop some sort of humor as dolphins, chimpanzees…might enforce this idea.
So yes, I think I hide a serious interior with and humorous exterior. For me both are as important. Actually, I rather stay in silence than to say or hear anything that is not funny nor interesting.
I expect the same of my works.
What ideas are you currently exploring in your work?
現在我正在做新系列「 Illustrious 」。
“對我來說更重要的事，就像是我與餅乾怪獸（The Cookie Monster）的關係，比起與十六世紀我從未聽說過的某個法國伯爵更為重要。
Right now, I am working on what I called Illustrious series.
It is a sort of an extension of Natural Selection.
One of the reasons why I started portraying animals was that a gallery I was going to exhibit at some years ago asked me not to paint persons for they believe they would not sell well. I admit my works at that time were quite disturbing and psychological, human figures in isolated rooms, confronted to machines or other animals. I always wanted to represent humans as another living species, but confronted with its nature. So for me that was a dilemma. I liked to paint portraits of humans as if they were any other animals and was asked to to do it.
So soon I turned it the other way around, I will try to portray animals as humans were usually portrayed. I liked the results, my message was still there and a whole new world opened to me to explore. For me was nice and exciting to find out all animals could be susceptible of being portrayed. So later on I started being very curious about the concept of portraiture itself.
What is usually portrayed?
Usually what we believe to be important, but who says what is important?
For me is more important and I relate much more to The Cookie Monster than to a Count that lived In France in XVI century I have never heard of. So I started painting those things I believe could be important to portray and are not usually represented that way. This for me is as well a way to rethink our standards and our concepts.
I am happy and excited with this new project and will like to see where it leads me.
Whats next for you?
在工作方面，我感到很榮幸。我接下來有一些有趣的個展，特別是明年在伊日，如果疫情允許的話，這會是我再次來台灣的機會。我總是能參加很棒的計畫，現在牛津科學協會（Oxford Scientific Society ）正在拍攝一部關於寵物生活的紀錄片，我的作品將出現在裡面……對我來說，這一切都是一份禮物，禮物不斷以有趣和意想不到的方式出現。
At the moment I am so excited with the idea of building a new house in the north. I will have a very nice studio there with amazing views of the ocean. This summer has just began but I can wait for next one to arrive when house will be finished.
In the past years I did artistic residencies in Bulgaria and Greece and were a great experience. But since what I enjoy the most at this moment is surfing I decided that I rather travel where I can surf and work at the same time. For that reason I will be departing soon up north in Spain to spend July and August.
On the work part, I feel so privileged. I have interesting solo exhibitions ahead, especially the one with you next year, It might give me the chance to visit over again if the covid situation allows it. I always participate in great art fairs, right now the Oxford Scientific Society is filming a documentary about the life of pets where images of my works will appear…for me all this is a gift and gifts keep on coming in the form of interesting and unexpected projects.
To be able to work in what I love, to make a living of it and even have recognition…what else could I ask for?
Whats the best book you’ve read recently?
我不時地繼續閱讀比爾·布萊森 (Bill Bryson) 的「萬物簡史」（A brief history of nearly everything, 2003），濃縮很多重要的知識。 強烈推薦給充滿好奇心的你們。我也喜歡尤瓦爾·諾亞·哈拉利 (Yuval Noah Harari) 的書。 他的書談論我們作為一個物種從何而來，以及我們如何以這種方式行事。 基本上是事物的真面目.. 非常有趣，強烈推薦。
我常常希望一天有 48 小時。
I keep on reading “A brief history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson every now and then. There is so much condensed important knowledge on it. Highly recommended for curious minds who want to know how we got to know the things we know. Also love the books of Yuval Noah Harari. They talk of where we come from as a species and of how come we behave the way we do. Basically of how things are the way they are.. Extremely interesting. Highly recommended.
But to be honest I have so many books that are waiting for me at home to be read. Even my sister and her husband are great writers and still have to read their latest books.
I often wish days had 48 hours.
Finally, what are you besides an artist?
I used to write a lot, poetry, essays… I was not sure whether to study fine art, philosophy, literature or even cinema. I used to think often of ideas for shortcuts, movies and my mind would think constantly in images.
I headed for fine arts and with the pass of the years I worked less and less in my other passions. I guess that’s common.
What I mean to say is that whatever I would have done in life would have had probably a sort of an artistic perspective.
Reality has taught me that at some extend predispositions exist. I did not choose to have mines, but I choose what I do with them. Or at least I try. At least in my case, being an artist is, for better or worse, a way of being. I cannot disattach it from me even if I wanted.
About Daniel Sueiras Fanjul 丹尼爾．蘇維勒斯．范弗
丹尼爾．蘇維勒斯．范弗1976年出生於西班牙（b.1976, Spain），2000畢業於匈牙利聖伊莎貝爾皇家美術學院（Spain University of Fine Arts Santa Isabel de Hungria, Seville）。丹尼爾希望自己的作品是有社會意義的。自從當畫家開始後，所有的系列都和存在主義有關，思考人類在自然界的定位，以及人類真正的本質 – 本能與理性的衝突。就柏拉圖所說「人類是同時被兩匹互相拉扯的馬拉著的馬車」，總是試著讓觀看者從不習慣的角度去觀看自己。藝術這份工作獨特的地方就是不斷的改變，嘗試新的想法，這也是為什麼他決定當藝術家。