“I want to throw new light on things that are happening, but we tend to oversee”
AT: Where are you from and how/why you start engaging to art?
KV: I’m from Valencia, Spain. I don’t remember a particular reason or a very specific starting point… I think it’s a very slow process that starts at an early age, and if you work on it, by the time you notice there’s no going back.
AT: When did it become serious?
KV: I feel that from the very first time you show your work in public you develop a sense of responsibility… I wonder if that can be a barrier or if actually helps. For me art has always been a very serious thing. When I was 11, going to a museum with my father was almost like going to church. I guess that when I am very concentrated there is no much room for joking.
AT: Are there any person that have been significant in your progression as an artist?
KV: During my degree I had a few teachers that were really inspiring to me…they shared their passion and honesty to art and life. They broke the hierarchy and we had conversations about everything. There was always a enriching exchange of views, so I learned that art was more about that give-and-take, and no so much about the monologue of an isolated genius.
AT: What’s your first approach to the work? Could you describe your practice?
KV: I look at the world around me and find things with potential. Usually the trigger its an encounter, an unexpected situation from which an idea is born. I need to find a leitmotif to guide me trough the process.
Obviosly these ideas come from previous interests, so it’s not like walking in a blank state of mind…I do a lot of experimentation with materials but at the end I consume most of my studio time contemplating and pondering about the next step.
Red/Green Wave, Wall Paintings, 40×30 cm, 2019.
AT: What do you want to reach with your work?
KV: I want to create a physical experience that somehow reflects how is the world today. I want to throw new light on things that are happening, but we tend to oversee. I love the ambigous feeling of looking at something that is both familiar and strange, beautiful but a bit hard to chew.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
KV: Concrete is my most used material by far. I also use other industrial materials as asphalt, plaster, iron…
I barely use brushes, so I create my own tools. I am also very interested in new photo and printing techniques, and the possibilites of combining these with more traditional ones.
AT: How do you feel while you are working? You think of the final result?
KV: The creative act its a rollercoaster of emotions. In my work process there are many stages with a huge range of feelings: astonishment, curiosity, doubts, reflexion, exhuastion, complacence, hate…I always think about I want to achieve in first place, but there is also a lot of room for improvisation. I change my mind often and therefore the final result changes too.
AT: How do you understand when a work is finished?
KV: Generally it’s a matter of respecting the momentum and the willness of the material. For each series I create a system of layers that determine a specific number of actions. When those actions are done there is no going back or nothing to add, so the work is: a/successful or b/removed.
S/T Cracking Layers- L01, 120×80 cm, Acrylic and Inkjet on canvas, 2020.
S/T. Cracking Layers, 180×120 cm, 2020.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
KV: In my case the inspiration always comes from the outside. There is a lot of internalization and metaphorical references to painting, but somehow it always starts with an external encounter. I am interested in finding relationships between the construction of the landscape and the construction of a painting.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
KV: Many, and the long list keeps growing slowly. I try not to be influenced by art I haven’t seen live, as it will lead to a superficial understanding. I admire artists who are able to change, to challenge themselves by having different languages and still remain consistent. Some of them are: Sterling Ruby, Tauba Auerbach, Secundino Hernández, Anselm Kiefer, Imi Knoebel, Franz West, Gerhard Richter, Wade Guyton, Thomas Ruff…
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
KV: I have a love-hate relationship. I mean, of course there are so many good things about being hyper-connected, but I aslo think there are so many essential things we are missing…the phisycality, scale, weight, smell…Social media should be a means to facilitate real-life connections, not a substitute for them. I’m just afraid the image projected in social media may become more important that the work itself or the process.
S/T CRACKING LAYERS, 180×120 cm, Cemento, Yeso and Tinta UVI, 2019.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
KV: Tricky question… I will just say that, luckily, there is not just one single system. There are many, and none of them is perfect. Each time we take part we shape the system so it’s crucial that we all set fair limits.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
KV: To confront a new idea and trying to shape it is the most challenging and rewarding part of working as an artist. I think it’s the unexpected what fascinates me the most. For me it’s about finding the right balance between getting in control and letting things happen.
AT: What do you do besides art?
KV: I do a lot of other things, but they never feel “outside of art”. I can be playing football and suddenly see a painting on the pitch! To be honest I get a really hard time if I try to get art out of my mind for more than 10 min.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
KV: I hope to be able to keep working with freedom, having good, honest, and lasting relationships. I think all the rest will come naturally.
Show view “Common Ground” Grau Projekt, Melbourne, 2020.
Keke Vilabelda (b. 1986) is a Spanish visual artist currently living and working in Valencia, Spain. His experience in different specific urban spaces allows his work to explore how the landscape is built over time, developing different bodies of work in parallel through the hybridization of painting, new technologies and the use of industrial materials such as cement. His work invites us to understand the painting from its materiality to its capacity of registration and memory.