“I am still interested in beauty”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
VM: I’m from Pamplona, a small city in Navarra in northern Spain, between the mountains of the Pyrenees, the forests, the plains and the desert. I couldn’t exactly define the moment when I started to get interested in art, it was something rather progressive that started in my case quite early. Something more like following an instinct than a conscious decision.
AT: When did it become serious?
VM: When I was a teenager, I was sure that I wanted to dedicate myself to art. I finished the studies, that for me were a torture, and I decided to study Fine Arts to the chagrin of my parents. At that time I didn’t have very clear what it involved but I miss that passion with which I lived it.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
VM: When I was studying in Bilbao at the university, through a friend I started going to paint one day a week at Andoni Euba’s studio. His work, but above all his way of approaching creation and facing the artist’s work influenced me a lot. Also his fascination for small things and his openness of mind. As well some professors from the faculty and the people around me who have encouraged me to continue, which at times is crucial.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
VM: In general I spend enough time modeling either the human figure or other elements. Then, from there I begin to combine them, subject them to processes and experiment trying to break the boundaries of the human, the vegetable and the inert. I think my practice is an attempt to save things from time and destruction, to explore the uncertain and to find meaning myself.
“Erased childhood”, PLA, ceramic plaster, enamel, 23 cm, 2020.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
VM: Well, that’s a complicated question. I work out of necessity in some way, but I try to make my work to have what I ask of a work of art in general. An art which connects me with some of the mystery behind things and life, or which communicates beauty to me, in the least superficial sense of the word. I am still interested in beauty.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
VM: My process has been taking an increasingly digital path. Lately I work a lot with modeling software and 3D printing that give me ample of freedom when working and make the process easier. But I also use a wide variety of materials, plaster, resins, silicone…
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
VM: My sensations working range from greatest satisfaction to boredom. I think less and less about the end, basically because it never corresponds to what I may have thought. And because the most interesting things arise like this, although probably the worst.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
VM: It is something that I usually decide intuitively, it is about finding a balanced point. Although that’s not something definitive: what seems finished today, tomorrow may seem insufficient. In general, I’m not in favor of lengthening the process more than necessary.
“Self-growth”, Acrylic resin, pigment, 2020.
“W/T”, Resin and iron powder, 35 cm tall, 2020.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
VM: It can come from very different places. I find inspiration and ideas in the work process itself most of the time. Other times it appears unexpectedly. I also find inspiration in literature and cinema, which are two of my great passions, perhaps not directly, but they do help me enter the state I need to continue working.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
VM: Yes, of course. Although they are constantly changing. Romanesque and Gothic art and some periods of classical Greek sculpture have been very important to me. Pedro de Mena is a sculptor that I always come back to and he always brings me something. Among the most recent art, i can quote Juan Muñoz or Mark Manders. Lately, I am quite interested in the work of Johannes Wald and Valerie Krause.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
VM: I have Instagram and basically I use it as a portfolio to show my work. Personally, I’m not comfortable with personal exposure on social media, but the potential it has to show content and generate connections is undeniable.
“Mácula”, Acrylic resin, 38x52x36 cm, 2020.
“Be a body”, PLA, ceramic plaster, enamel, 65x23x12 cm, 2020.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
VM: I honestly don’t know the world of contemporary art very well. I am quite isolated in that regard. Nobody escapes that sometimes it has become quite perverse, but I think it also has many levels that have nothing to do with each other.
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?
VM: On a personal level, the constant doubt about my own work and the disappointments and failures that this work often entails. On a practical level, the difficulty of obtaining a stable income that allows me to live with a certain tranquility. The most satisfying part has to do with the relationship that sometimes is established between your work and people.
AT: What do you do besides art?
VM: I make electronic music, cook, read and watch movies. I swim when I can. I spend time with my family and friends, I have a two and a half years old daughter so I don’t lack entertainment.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
VM: Using some verses by Fernando Pessoa, ‘I am nothing. I’ll never be anything. I couldn’t want to be something. Apart from that, I have in me all the dreams in the world.’
“Mácula”, PLA, ceramic plaster, enamel, 21×19 cm tall, 2020.
"My work revolves around the idea of human nature on its borders with the animal, the vegetable or the inert. Through sculpture with a special interest in matter and organic, I investigate the transformation processes that give rise to new dimensions in subjects, questioning their essence and individuality. I am interested in elements such as fossilization, mummification, the petrified figures of Pompeii or the nuclear footprints of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for being processes in which the living element acquires a new permanent nature. By means of the symbolic I alter the usual visual order to approach the mystery of the living, its disappearance and the search for meaning it awakens, motivated by fear of insignificance and forgetfulness". Víctor Manzanal (b. 1989) is a Spanish sculptor currently living and working in Pamplona, Spain.