GUILLERMO OYAGÜEZ MONTERO Interviewed by Gonzalo Rodríguez Gómez
1970, Málaga (Spain)
Q- Hi Guillermo, thank you for your generosity with agreeing to this interview. To begin, can you talk a little bit about your artistic career and how you came to pursue painting? I heard your brother Alfredo is a great pianist and orchestra conductor. How would you say your family has influenced your work?
A- Thanks to you! I would not call what I am living an artistic career because I am not interested on art market as a competitive career. It´s been slow, a very slow process, always surprising, and it is even now when I sell a painting. I myself prefer to call it a path rather than a career, being supported by a faithful public who trust in me as a painter, outside of fashions and time.
My mother wanted to be a pianist and my father a painter. My brother and I were given enough freedom to make our own decisions and access to artistic education since we were kids, but the music requires more effort than painting. I quit taking piano lessons in fifth grade, in the middle of the ten-year program. Today my brother Alfredo is a pianist and I am a painter.
Q- What has your experience been with living in Madrid in terms of growing professionally as a painter?
A- I was born in Málaga. At that time, it was clear to my parents that living in Madrid would be much better for us in order to get a very good artistic education. Over the years, I have noticed that it was a good choice and remains so to this day. In other cities of Spain local artists are treated with far more priority and respect.
Q- Please, tell us some of your considerations when using colour in your work. What sort of paints do you put out on your palette?
A- I paint with oils. There is no other technique like oil painting in respect/terms of its fleshiness or brightness. My painting palette is narrow: Titan White, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Burnt Sienna, Emerald Green, Ultramarine Blue and Black. Sometimes I also add Carmin Red and Prussian Blue but I try to avoid them whenever I can.
Q- Few months ago you published your Boston sketchbook journal through a crowdfunding campaign. These notebooks are beautiful objects on their own. How did your journals evolve and what makes them so important to you?
A- The whole of my work is a daily journal. One of the biggest challenges facing the painter is, what to paint? To me, the answer is to work on anything that concerns me. There are some quick, fresh and truthful drawings and sketches from journals that you cannot see in many paintings carefully worked.
Q- You have lived abroad and traveled a lot, especially to the island of Holbox. How has art you´ve seen impacted your career?
A- I went to Holbox for the first time 16 years ago, an island located in the Caribbean just west of Cancun. When I asked about the price on land as a matter of personal curiosity I couldn´t believe it. After that, I drew a house and I made it come true. Naturally, I painted over and over that feeling of warmth and those Turquoise colours you can see around the island. I try to go there whenever I can, before its charm and beauty will be missed.
Q- I was very impressed with your solo exhibition at Ansorena Gallery two years ago. The whole painting series was based on Netflix tv shows. What was your favorite one?
A- Thanks! Netflix was part of my life for a long time. Sometimes, I didn´t want to paint and couldn´t think clearly. I had to figure out what do to for the next exhibition and decided to observe everything around me, and then it was Netflix. Some of these TV shows are filmed by amazingly talented directors of photography. Medium shots from Stranger Things inspired me and were a main theme for my solo show.
Q- Many of your paintings have very strong panoramic compositions, mostly in your paintings of Tunisia, California and Mexico. How do you determine what type of composition you´ll work on?
A- My approach is intuitive because I have never theorized on compositions. It appears more appropriate to work on panoramic surfaces in order to simulate our visual system. Composition is not just where we place our desires but also how we do, so I start painting without thinking too much, just letting myself get carried by the own process. I think that composition should reflect the artist´s statement, and I am looking for calm and serenity.
Q- You studied Fine Arts at Complutense University of Madrid with José Sánchez Carrelero as a professor. What was that like? How much of his teaching influences your work today?
A- I didn´t meet him as a professor because many of the faculty members were disappointing to me, so I made the mistake of judging them all and, just at the end of the bachelor´s degree, Carralero noticed me and I was given the scholarship for senior students. He showed me to love painting, to enjoy the landscape, to have fun, and he was the one who taught me by example.
Q- Let´s talk about your coral reefs series. This body of work feels even more atmospheric, fluid and dreamlike than your previous landscapes but actually you didn´t paint this series from observation or responding to observable facts like photographs. Can you tell us your impressions on these large paintings? In what ways does your studio painting differ from your outdoor painting?
A- Coral reefs are part of the underwater landscape. I have dived and still remember these sorts of coral community structures, the way the light enters the water and how the corals look under the influence of the sunlight. These paintings are playful because I can improvise on them, but this process is also hard because I push myself to get a clearly picture of the scenario, so the viewers can feel an ambience atmosphere from my vivid memories. There are not concrete steps to follow when you are painting something like this, you just persevere until you reach your goals.
Plein air painting modifies your own way of looking at the landscape as well as your impulses. Daylight constantly changes and forces you to interpret your work and what you see, while a photograph instead of the real theme just make you feel stuck. You do not face the same pressure than painting outdoors.
Q- You´ve often talked about how important is for you to capture the memories of moments. This does not necessarily require the narrative plays a role in your work but if so, what role does the narrative play in development your painting?
A- The narrative is not a relevant issue for the purpose of my paintings since I avoid representing figures, but somehow, a potential story can be suggested by the light of a car´s head lamps, which effect points to someone approaching. Or maybe, an open door tells us that someone is walking through the house. When I talk about memories of moments I mean the ambience or the particularity nature of the place, something that I can only paint being there.
Q- How do you start or end your day? Do you have any rituals or routines?
A- I just paint in my studio in the morning. If I am in a hurry for some reason, as an upcoming show, then I keep working the whole day. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed! Why should we sit down and write a story if don´t experience life?
I start painting before 10am. I don´t care about how early but if I am a little late then I´d rather come back the next day. Nothing annoys me more than finding the palette and brushes uncleaned between painting sessions, so I do everything I can to keep the workplace clean and well organized.
Q- You work with several paintings at the same time. Please, tell us a little more about your panting process and what aspects of a view attracts you the most to paint.
A- I begin to paint intuitively on different canvases until I made progresses in all areas, and after a while (maybe days or weeks), I turn to some of the pieces. This time for reflect allows me to look at the paintings from a neutral point of view. The first touches are fresh and quick but the next steps might be more formal and boring, especially when I try to create colour gradations, not funny at all but necessary to get the desired result I wanted from the beginning. At the final stage I find myself very excited and focused on making choices or just scratching previous gestures in order to go forward.
Q- What are your expectations from your upcoming solo show at Ansorena Gallery? How many paintings will you show and what´s next for you after your exhibition?
A- I hope people will enjoy visiting the exhibition. This one is special to me because the opening day will match with my 50th birthday and everyone will get the chance to see the 5 subjects I´ve been working up till now. Around 27 works will be on show at the gallery. What´s next? I guess what´s coming is my retirement…, no, I´m joking. I wish to paint less and less but spending more time on each artwork.
Thank you Guillermo! We wish you a great deal of luck and success
Thank you so much for considering me for the interview