Abraham Lacalle

INTERVIEW

How would you describe your contribution to the Truck Art Project?

It’s an explosion, and that’s its title. It’s a very simple proposal, but I thought it might be stimulating to see a vehicle moving through the city with an exploding trailer. We live in a state of alarm and fear in large, hyper-protected cities. The work thus becomes a kind of salutary reminder of that phantom menace of unexpected aggression.

How do the two sides of the truck engage in dialogue?

They’re really two versions of the same idea. The starting point is representing the very first moment of the explosion: black smoke, and inside it, the fire of the detonation. What I’ve tried to do is to paint it in such a way that it responds to the effect of the movement of the vehicle. Each side is a version of the same idea. For me, it’s difficult to paint the same thing twice.

What do you see as the challenges of the project?

As I mentioned before, it’s important to capture the viewer’s attention where my work is concerned. I’m curious about the inversion that takes place when it’s the image that’s in motion. In a museum or a gallery, it’s the viewer who moves around. Anyway, there’s nothing new about seeing an image on a truck. What might prove surprising is the way it’s made. Because what I present isn’t a vinyl, it’s a direct painting with its texture and its imperfections, a result that differs from the advertising image. I suppose this will capture and provoke a different kind of attention.

How does this project fit into your artistic development and discourse?

Perfectly. I’ve worked from time to time on mural painting, and this would be a new version with the difference that it’s ‘in motion’. I’m always ready to participate in projects that disseminate work outside the established canons. We must get out of the exhibition galleries.

Some artists admit they arrived with a preconceived idea which they then had to modify, or which grew in other directions when they were confronted with a support like this. Was that your case?

No. I did what I had envisaged, what I previously had inside my head. I just did a small biro sketch to show to Fer Francés, the curator, who had asked me for it. My intervention was a direct painting on the support with no preliminary drawing. I was sure it had to be a clear and forceful image that could be appreciated in motion and would bear a relationship with its support.

How have you envisaged the reception of a work like this one, which is found rather than sought out by the spectator, and which doesn’t circulate through the usual artistic channels?

I haven’t thought about it much. It just seemed interesting to me to take part. I had an idea about what I might do, and I carried it through. Marketing strategies are always confused. You think about the sense of the project, about who else is going to do it with you… But in the end, I always have doubts about the relation of cause and effect. I form part of something like this because I feel it’s a good thing. And what’s more, I do the best I can. Putting the greatest interest into it.

And the fleetingness of its reception?

Now that’s something I did take into account. The image has to be appreciable while in motion. Let’s say that I didn’t see much sense in anything that wasn’t incorporated into the truck. My piece is really a trompe-l’oeil, and so it’s coupled with the architecture of the vehicle. I’m not so interested in making it a platform for self-promotion but in producing an element of strangeness in the context of the city. Besides, I think it’s good for an entrepreneur to become associated with projects of this type.

How did you tackle the scale? Were you used to it?

Yes. As I said before, I’ve done quite a lot of mural painting, so the scale wasn’t a challenge for me. I have a lot of fun when I get a chance to tackle painting without a stretcher. The picture is always like a window, it’s a physical sensation. It’s there, in the middle of the wall, surrounded by blank spaces. With mural painting and, in this case, with the trailer of the lorry, another physical sensation is experienced. Rather like entering the painting itself.

What do you get out of participating in a project like this, and what do you think you contribute to it?

What I find very interesting is the chance to situate the painting in contexts other than the halls of culture. That desacralises it. What’s the interesting thing about a project like Truck Art Project? As I remarked before, I think it’s a case of a private firm giving something back to society. That’s positive in itself.

Abraham Lacalle (Almería, 1962), trained in Seville and now resident in Madrid, is one of the leading and most international artists of his generation. He defines himself above all as a painter. ‘Painting in itself contests or confronts the past and the contemporary.’ His artistic career began in the late 1980s, centred on the gallery La Máquina Española and the magazine Figura. Constant in it were references to the main artistic and literary movements of the twentieth century. Over the last decade, this artist from Almería has focused his attention on the expressive power of landscapes, a genre that has marked a watershed in his creative path. His works explore the difficult relationship between human beings and the natural environment with a perspective that invites the pursuit of a certain ‘environmental ethic’. The artist has a predilection for large formats where the walls appear to vanish and the viewer feels impelled to penetrate the picture. His work forms part of the collections of the CAAC - Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Seville), the Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo (Palma de Mallorca), the Colección Santander (Madrid) and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid).