How would you describe your contribution to the Truck Art Project?
As an extension of my work, where I try to find the balance between reason and emotion. That’s why I feel comfortable in the environment of play. For me, it’s a perfect synthesis of passion and knowledge. What’s more, I think its exact space is at the intermediate point between the two questions. For the purpose, I use dialectical tools that support the idea and are present in my painting. The first of them is found in the elements represented, which are usually whole pieces or fractions of elements destined for children’s play, although sometimes I also introduce elements for ornamental or everyday use. The second resides in the way of treating and configuring those elements: I paint them, I break, mutilate or assemble them, I compose them in such and such a way as if I were playing with them. And in the third place, there’s my way of painting: I try out, erase, repaint, modify and even intervene with a spray as though vandalising my own painting, making fun in this way of my own work.
How do the two sides of the truck engage in dialogue?
They are truly two sides of the same coin. I’ve planned a ludic arrangement that acts, as I’ve said, in the same way as I understand life and, by extension, art. In this case, it’s materialised through iconographic and processual references. Represented on both sides is an everyday scene: two plates on a tablecloth which is laid in its turn on a table. In each of these two compositions, one for each side of the truck, there is a final element: an action performed on the painting with a spray, not very precisely, that turns the plates on the table into large eyes in a face whose expression takes shape with this final addition, which emulates a mouth. As a result, it looks like the ecstatic, astonished or radiantly happy face of a puppet. On the other side, there’s a table with plates that ends up becoming another face, in this case of someone surprised or bewildered.
What do you see as the challenges of the project?
Besides finishing it on time, I try to generate a pretended scenario from ordinary elements, subverting the scale of the representation that is reproduced in a smaller size in the real world. It is a question of submerging viewers in imagery created for the sharing of an experience with them, making them reflect not only on what they see but on how they see it. In short, I try to generate a need in the viewer to look for a secret in what they see, not a secret about painting or art as such, but about life itself.
How does this project fit into your artistic development and discourse?
Like one more spoke in the wheel of possibilities offered by painting itself, in this case thinking up an idea on a moving support and its scale. I think I’m going to want to paint large things after this. As for my discourse, I’ve tried to maintain my language and my way of understanding painting.
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?
As I said before, my painting is organic in its process. It feeds off erasure and manipulation. The final result always comes when I see the preliminary study has been surpassed.
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 think that’s an added value, a very useful way of reaching new eyes that will perhaps be shaken by a new interest. Moreover, I think that the nature of the represented image helps this a great deal. While what appears on the one hand is a figurative and ‘intelligible’ image, it invites us to focus our gaze and connect with that other hidden image, laden with expressive connection and almost concealed, which awakens an effect of ludic discovery in viewers and invites them to join in the game.
And the fleetingness of its reception?
Sincerely, I hope they drive down minor roads and can’t go at more than 40 kph. I also have the hope that they’ll sometimes stop to fill up, and those will be the occasions that give me a wider scope. However, the size of the project and the apparent simplicity of the images represented act in my favour when it comes to a quick glance.
How did you tackle the scale? Were you used to it?
My height should be borne in mind, as I have to use a ladder to paint a format of more than 160… Confronting this format has inevitably meant feeling the grandeur and respect due to the painting, and I’m not referring only to questions of size. I approached the scale with some fear and respect, as I had never before painted anything bigger than a 2 × 2.
What do you get out of participating in a project like this, and what do you think you contribute to it?
Besides the experience, which is a great statement and a total novelty for me, with all the challenges that implies, it makes me enormously proud to belong to a group of artists who have given your trucks colour. As for what I contribute to the project, I think I’m a comfortable and entertaining person to work with, and I hope it’ll be an interesting piece.
What’s the interesting thing about a project like the Truck Art Project?
I think Truck is an extreme project that reminds us of art’s versatility. There are no borders. We’ve spoken of chances to innovate, of tackling formats for the first time, of mobility and expansion, and of making my painting reach even those who never had it on their agenda to view a work of mine. Isn’t that more than enough?
Ana Barriga (Jerez De La Frontera, Cádiz, 1984) with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Seville, lives and works in Madrid. Her creations move in a ludic terrain that looks for surprises and a shedding of prejudices. At the start of her career, this artist showed an interest in sculpture and the three-dimensional aspects of space. Over the years, she submerged herself in the world of the pictorial, a field she continues to investigate, with a special focus on surpassing the limits of the picture and expanding the work in its environment. Barriga carries out a revision of figurative painting through the photographic image, exploring the new pictorial variants that emerged at the end of the twentieth century. The difficult balance between reason and emotion gives this artist the energy to invent a different and unexpected reality replete with humour, irony and play. She uses children’s toys, ornamental objects or everyday instruments, which she paints, breaks or mutilates. Among her recent successes are the International Prize for Painting of the Fundación Focus, the Plastic Arts Prize of the University of Seville, and the Generaciones 2019 award. Some of her pieces can be found in collections like those of the CAC - Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Málaga and the Fundación ARCO’s Collection.