David Hockney once said that “an artist might be attracted to hedonism, but of course, an artist is not a hedonist. He’s a worker, always.” At the ripe age of twenty-nine, Catalan artist Albert Madaula is a prime example of this statement. His portraits of dreamy men, celebrity portraits and still life’s evoke the playfulness of Hockney’s use of color, converging into Elizbeth Peyton’s gloom with a gash of Egon Schiele’s dramatic brushstrokes. But, Madaula’s work does not just limit to the canvas. He’s already published a magazine, shot his first short film, dabbled in photography and modeling. The blue-eyed painter has been at it since he was a child, but for many years he didn’t consider becoming one, because he did not want to follow his father’s footsteps. During our conversation, he told me that his rebellious heart was “trying to break away” from where he came from is part of the cycle. For Maduala, this was a natural process and from it, he was able to find himself through the past. “I used to draw cabins and was very interested in space.” And this led him to study architecture for three months before quitting to become a painter.
He continues, “Images and colors are easier for me. It’s easier for me to explain myself through a pencil rather than through language.” Starting with linear drawing, eventually he felt that he “needed more depth and color. Drawing was not enough.” Through painting he was able to expand his visual language. And what we get is Madaula’s version of his own reality. What his eye sees is not what the viewer may ultimately get. Literal representations “stress” him out. His latest project may be his biggest yet – Maduala is gearing up for his first shows in Hong Kong (solo) and Peking (group), both opening this spring and for them he’s crating new work inspired by tropical hotel culture. “I want to create people during their vacations and how they lose themselves in that hotel world and blend it with wild animals.” In 2014, he began to experiment with the human savage in his sixteen-minute-long short film, Limón. Set in a bathroom, the film is about the breakdown of a couple. In previous interviews he stated that the reason why he chose to “lock-in” – à la Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit – the final straw of a relationship, was that you go to the bathroom to “drop, literally, all your shit.” Since its release, Limón has been selected for 11 festivals, including ones in Alberta, Guadalajara and Budapest. The film was created alongside art director Carles Arnan and set designer Cristina Ramos Yeste, who are part of a young generation of Catalan tastemakers that are creating a new set of visual language.“We want to create new products through a common language.” Madaula’s influences include Ricardo Bofill,
“for his simplicity of forms and strength of character”; Luis Buñuel’s 1962 film, The Exterminating Angel; and, of course, Pedro Almodóvar’s, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and 1992’s High Heels, Almodóvar’s melodramatic masterpiece about the torrid relationship between a soap opera star and her estranged daughter, a newscaster. Madaula’s highly in vogue, yet he is not interested in working firsthand in the fashion industry. “I’ve been very close to it, but I’m also interested in politics.” And, even though that he is now able to sustain himself as a painter, he doesn’t seem to be keen on the solitude behind painting, so he’s setting his energy gearing towards the act of collaboration through film. “Painting is like meditating. I like it. But, I also enjoy some stress. I want to live my work intensely with other people.” What drives him to the séptimo arte is the possibility, like William Klein during his glory days, of being able to include the worlds of politics, social message and fashion all together. “You can criticize everything at the same time.” When it comes to his subjects he looks “for gestures, someone that I like, a sort of flechazo (Cupid’s bow). I like showing off and playing with decadence, which I haven’t really worked that much yet. I also love color and depicting daily life.” Madaula, like many other great artists, is interested in finding subjects that he can represent throughout the passing of time. “I want to grow old with my muses. You can have your emotional partner, but I also need working partners that I can create things with.”
ARTIST: ALBERT MADAULA