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by Alejandra Tapia

JOURNALIST - Barcelona

Javier Arizabalo: “The image of reality should always...  affect us with a positive feeling”.   . 

The Spanish artist reviews the current scene of figurative art and the feelings that work provokes in him, skilfully recreating bodies and textures.

  Impressive things can be done with few means ”, says the painter Javier Arizabalo (56). The artist, born in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, but based in Irún, in the north of Spain, confirms this phrase daily in his work, where he manages to create masterful works with just a few brushes. “ Two thicknesses for the usual work, one to stain the painting, one for details, another to soften the brushstrokes, and a brush in the case of large surfaces ”, he explains.

Although he studied Fine Arts, he initially dedicated himself to working as a graphic designer, until 15 years ago he decided to free himself from the stress that his working life had at the time, and returned to painting, an activity that has allowed him, as he says, to be more master of himself and that forces him to immerse himself in a state of concentration such that a feeling of peace reaches him.


Precisely this feeling of fullness is reflected in most of his works, bodies, faces, hands and textures carefully recreated, and that amaze anyone who looks at them due to Arizabalo's skill.

“Impressive, “incredible”, are some of the more than one hundred comments that accompany the image of a foot painted by the Spanish artist, and that he shared with his followers on his Facebook account (Javier Arizabalo Garcia), as part of the "pills" that he has been delivering from his work for the "Masterpiece Project" exhibition, from the Count Ibex collection, where they are dedicated to bringing together rigorous works of what they consider "the fascinating world" of figurative art. Only 24 artists were selected to make a "masterpiece", including Arizabalo.


-How do you manage not to fall back into stress in your current job? Your technique is demanding, and to this are added projects like this exhibition and workshops that you teach in several countries...


"Work is not directly what causes stress, but the demands of others if you want to respond to what they demand of you, economic uncertainty, not seeing yourself in the 'position' that you think you should be in. Now, with the so-called hyperrealism the painter is required to make the painting resemble a photograph. Fortunately, painting has more qualities and goals in which the painter does not have to appear efficient as a machine."


-All in all, 18 years ago you decided to develop yourself in the figurative field. Why?


"Because I could differentiate myself from the capacities that the rest could have. "The image of reality should always affect us in a positive sense, if we are healthy and awake. That can motivate us to retain those sensations, to try to reproduce and fix those moments, the same thing we do with photography. What happens is that painting is not reality, it is something else, something else is created. The challenge is not perfection to have impeccable objects, but life, getting to have every day good sensations".


-But in previous interviews you have mentioned that realism is not found in an easy scene nowadays. "Let's go against the current", you said.

“As art becomes part of productivity and as it speeds up, 'assembly lines', fast techniques and technologies come into play. The fact that a person with a long learning curve takes tens or hundreds of hours to make an object restricts the market, it is not economically profitable for the business”.


-Some argue that today there is a "silent revolution" in art, where figurative artists have managed to successfully spread their work through the internet, despite going a bit against the conceptualist or abstract trends that from the beginning. last century seem to dominate popularity. Do you believe in this revolution?


“The good thing about the current time, on the one hand, is that we have the freedom to educate ourselves in the sections we want, whether as creators, observers or connoisseurs; and that we can also show and market our work, in part, without paying tolls to the previous distribution model: galleries, dealers and some media. (But) the power of iconography will always be there for the general public, and they are the ones who are going to make something have more or less weight, and not the fact that we are waving red flags in the street”.


Realism now has private international institutions that spread it, the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art), for example. Do you think this support is currently showing its fruits? It's enough?


“It is unfortunate that public institutional support is instrumentalized towards certain sectors of practice. Whoever goes to a museum or fair like ARCO (International Contemporary Art Fair of Madrid), called 'contemporary art', will be able to see it.

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