Ángel de la Rubia
I find it interesting that the English translation of the Spanish expression tener sentido [lit. ‘to have sense’] is ‘to make sense’, as if every kind of statement had to ensure that its structure followed some inevitable internal logic.
In general, this is what I try and achieve with each project as I come up close to a particular part of reality. The result is likely to be a recurring defeat, but, even so, its documentation will still tell us something about the object – the world we belong to.
Ángel de la Rubia
Vive y trabaja entre/Lives and works in: Madrid.
Fotografía Artística, Escuela de Artes de Oviedo, Oviedo.
Exposiciones Individuales (Selección)/Selected Solo Exhibitions
LÍBANO [silencio], Galería Fúcares, Almagro, Ciudad Real.
After all/Después de todo, (con Iván Grubanov), Laboratorio 987, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, MUSAC, León.
Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección)/Selected Group Exhibitions
AQUÍ. 4 fotógrafos desde Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones Canal de Isabel II, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid.
Topografías Urbanas, Galería Fúcares, Almagro, Ciudad Real.
Tentaciones’07, Salón Internacional del Grabado Contemporáneo, Estampa 2007, Madrid.
Becas y Premios/Awards and Grants
Certamen Jóvenes Creadores, Ayuntamiento de Madrid (Artes Plásticas, 1er Premio).
Beca de Creación Primera Obra, Caixa Galicia, A Coruña.
Premio Purificación García, Purificación García (3er Premio).
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, MUSAC, León.
Obra en Museos y Colecciones/Works in Museum and Collections
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, MUSAC, León.
VV.AA., "AQUÍ. 4 fotógrafos desde Madrid", Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones Canal de Isabel II, Comunidad de Madrid, 2009, Cat. Exp.
Rubia, Ángel de la; Rubia Huete, Pedro de la, "La fosa de Valdediós", Gijón, Museo del Pueblo de Asturias, 2007.
VV.AA., "Colección MUSAC Volumen II", León, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, MUSAC, 2007.
Galería Cubo Azul
1. What made you choose art as a profession?
There wasn’t really one specific moment when I took a decision to do this. Certain interests I had, centred mainly on film and music, led me to study photography. Since then, learning and a series of decisions that only seem relevant in retrospect, along with a number of accidents, led me to where I am now. The conscious, professionalised option only arose recently, guided step-by-step by the kind of projects I was interested in and was carrying out.
2. How would you define your work?
I’d say it’s the work of a self-aware frustrated photojournalist. The ideas of representation and temporality I work with have their roots in documentary photography and its derivatives, but I’m increasingly aware of certain paradoxes in these notions, and to resolve them I need the degree of freedom offered by doing art. This metalinguistic twist means my work takes on conceptual or performative nuances.
3. What subjects are you interested in?
I suppose in general I’m interested in modern-day life and its traces, as well as the media through which we perceive it. I’m often linked to a certain idea of ‘memory’, but I think that if there’s any truth in it, it’s because of my interest in photography as a tool for ‘making memory’, combining ‘faithful’, albeit necessarily obsolete, visual reproduction with the inherently spectre-like nature of all documents. Having said that, I always base my work on certain specific subjects or places and always choose and develop them as if they were reportages. There’s always something unique that attracts me that I combine with more general interests.
4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
All my work is based on series of photographs. This means that a single image is never enough to reach the level of discourse. I need a systematic approach and need to make this clear, albeit discreetly. The use of series of photographs also gives me some steps to follow with respect to the aforementioned ideas of time, reference (and therefore space) and documents, and these don’t change drastically with the inclusion of installation features, such as video. If we’re talking about how I take photos, you could say I follow in the same line as Walker Evans, including the US documentary–makers from the 1960s as well as what’s known own as the Düsseldorf school of painting. I base myself on very direct forms, what you could almost call a sublimated snapshot, since there’s almost always something unique represented in each image. This is also a way of using simplicity to invite silence to form part of the work and the experience of observing it. However, I try to adapt to the stylistic needs of the project and subject in question.
5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
Donovan Wylie once said to me: “the world is far more interesting than anything we can say about it.” For a start, because anything I can say or do also belongs to it. Although my ideas of ‘truth’ or ‘reality’ have changed since I started out, they remain two central pillars for my committed and critical approach, and the referential nature of photography also invites this. I start with real facts in which I find an analogy with broader concepts that form part of what is inevitably only a partial interpretation of our world.
6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
Probably nothing. After flirting with naive, romantic and punk approaches, I’m increasingly drawn to Borges’ absurd metaphor of the silent ruin, useless yet undeniable. A document adrift which, like a glass of water, could explain everything in existence, but which is also easily dismissed. Saying this may seem frivolous bearing in mind that I’m trying to look at the paradox and horror at the heart of our world, but I’m only really setting out my intentions, well aware of the recurring defeats, and perhaps opening the door to the improbable.
7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I only see spectators as independent beings when I consciously decide to make projects I see as inseparable from the history of what we call ‘Western’ and its impositions. Outside this, I see thinking about how a work is received, independently of how it’s carried out, only complicates my work, as I inevitably reach questions I cannot answer as both project and producer. I let myself be guided by a certain categorical imperative: I create the project I think I should make as I think I should do it. Later I make mistakes, just like everyone else.
8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
Istudied Photography at the Art School in Oviedo. Sometimes this puts me at a disadvantage with respect to people who went to university, especially when I work outside my subject area. However, I value the in-depth knowledge I’ve acquired from my education, thanks to the teachers who taught the core subjects. I firmly believe that photography was modernity’s key invention in terms of the image. So my perspective is from a modest, but well-placed vantage point. This small but solid foundation I was given is based on what is probably the most important thing in these cases: learning how to learn. In this way, on my own, I try to expand my knowledge with the tools available to me.
9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
Fairly precarious, in both economic and creative terms, since I’m still developing and evolving. I think I’m gradually defining my interest more sharply and I hope to obtain the necessary finance to study certain sketches I’m working on to give life to these interests. More specifically, I think I’m starting to feel the need for the experience called for in international collaborations.
10. Many artists say it’s difficult to make a living from their work; how do economic considerations affect you when it comes to work? Do you think this has a bearing on your work?
It’s certainly not easy, but then no-one ever said it was going to be easy. Above all I try not to lose my privileged perspective of being able to do this as my only economic activity, despite the difficulties this might entail. Sometimes I worry about how we can willingly kidnap our own life, but this kidnapping (necessary for achieving a high level of concentration, abstraction and therefore perfection) depends a lot on not having to spend our time on other activities. I’m aware of certain commercial prerogatives, but I try not to forget their place in the overall hierarchy and ensure they don’t contradict the rest of my working system.
11. What do you look for or expect from your relationship with promoters and curators?
What advantages and difficulties have you found with these relationships? At the moment this is one more learning opportunity, since with my limited career I’m usually surrounded by people with more extensive expertise in this key area, the moment when what you work for reveals itself. This doesn’t mean I don’t still arrive at a meeting with my own ideas and the stubbornness to defend them. From a more practical perspective, I think that if you want to be in a position to present or carry out a project with one of these agents, you need to talk and discuss the main points of the work and set out everyone interests to see if there is a point to working together. If you reach this level of agreement, despite the difficulties, I can relax and be confident that although not perfect (you have to work on this inch by inch), we’ll both do our job and be pulling in the same direction.
12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere?
What would you say are its pluses and minuses? I only have a very provisional knowledge of the scene in Madrid and other cities and I don’t really feel equipped to give an answer.