Digital photography as a tool for contemporary painting. Interview with Paco Diaz

Paco Díaz: The perfect combination between traditional techniques and digital photography in contemporary painting.

Contemporary Painting : Artist Paco Diaz - interview at Plastiké

The artist Paco Díaz blurs the limits of painting thus creating a composition on different levels of reality and fiction that looks for the alert attention of the viewer.

In your exhibition “More is More” in Plastiké you exhibit contemporary paintings created by experimenting with digital photography. What are we going to find in the Gallery?

Most importantly they are pieces of art for which I have special affection. It may sound cliché but each of the paintings is like a son to me. I remember the music that was playing while I painted them, the conversation I had when I bought the materials, the sleepless nights working on different options or what I was thinking when I took the pictures which served as a starting point.

Contemporary painting: Paco Diaz Artist ::  Drawing and final contemporary paint

Your methods differ from those of many artists, first you create a photomontage and then you create your oil painting…double the work…double the creativity.

First I take photos with a fairly clear idea in my head of what I want to achieve. They are the foundations that I build on, adding, modifying or eliminating elements until I reach a result I believe is worth painting. The photomontages serve the function of sketches. Sometimes, after much consideration, I like the result in the digital photo phase but I can’t see it as a painting. In any event, paint offers different possibilities to those available using photographic copies, and for me it continues to have an aura which is difficult to obtain through other techniques.

You compose almost photographic visions to which you add popular culture…

Yes, I enjoy playing with scale, enlarging toys, kitchen utensils, and household objects, which can have attractive or disconcerting shapes when placed in a different context. I like to place these objects alongside pieces of contemporary painting, buildings belonging to major architects, icons of industrial design or constructions I create for this express purpose. This playing with and modification of the landscape was already popular in the baroque era and it continues to be so. A particularly suggestive example of this is, for me, the combinations formed by the English Archigram group in the 60’s.

You blur the limits between still life painting and urban landscape painting…

In my paintings I deal with buildings as though they were objects on top of a table. And I magnify objects so that they are as big as houses. The limits, if indeed they exist, are blurry.

You encourage the viewer to participate actively, to find the relationship between concepts… to be more than a mere spectator?

I like to think of my paintings as board games ready to play, where the rules of the game change depending upon who is playing, and depending upon the references accumulated by each player. Or the day they are having.

Contemporary painting: Paco Diaz Artist :: New York 6 (detail)We are currently passing through a moment of crisis, art is one of the sectors which suffers noticeably… is it a case of reinvent yourself or die?

That’s the idea. We can’t keep giving the same responses when the questions have changed. The first thing we have to do now is to discover what questions are really interesting. But it’s difficult, there is a lot of background noise and it’s difficult to distinguish. Even where you manage to hear the question, you still have to provide a response which contributes something worthwhile.

Can art help us to escape the crisis?

Through art, cinema, theater and music… it is, of course, possible to create interesting proposals which help to climb out of the crisis, but a little help would not go a miss. I don’t think that the increase of VAT on culture is a move in the right direction.

Many artists reject the use of new technologies…

New technologies, such as, in my case, digital photography, are tools which can help to generate pieces of art which are brilliant or puerile. The same is true of a pencil. What has happened to a certain degree in recent years is that we have been dazzled by technological gadgetry. I think that we have all, at one time or another, been surprised by works of art which once we have looked beyond the technology, by which they were created, have proved to be of only minor interest.

Watch Paco Díaz Contemporary Paiting ExhibitionHow would you value on line art galleries? A vision of the future?

I believe they belong to the times, the same as newspapers or electronic books. It’s an exciting moment a moment of change and we don’t know where it will lead us. What we do know is that things are changing and perhaps these on line galleries are the future. Nonetheless just as I believe that printed books and newspapers will continue to exist, I think we will still want to see galleries in the streets.

Would you encourage young creators to engage in their passion in spite of the difficulties?

Of course. Even more so nowadays, when no profession guarantees economic security. It does not mean the same thing to be an architect, or a telecommunications engineer now as it did ten, or twenty years ago. If, at least, by painting, making videos or installing systems you enjoy yourself then half the battle is won.

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