While Pako Quijada is an all-round artist in the field of the visual arts, here we cast an eye over his photographic work.
His work is visually stunning but Pako Quijada is evidently searching for more. Indeed, he admits that in many ways his work is a type of therapy. Constant are the themes of memory and loneliness but his work also details his own battle with depression.
The truth is many artists approach their work from a standpoint of self-help or self-therapy. The difference will be in those (like Pako Quijada) wishing to be more open about that need or wish to find some therapy from their work.
And while that therapy is evident Pako Quijada also displays an excellent creative mind with technical flair creating images which stay embedded in the mind long after viewing.
Let’s talk about being a multi-disciplinary and briefly your work in experimental video pieces. What is your most recent piece what were you trying to convey?
The last experimental video I did was in 2015. It was a project called Study For Intermission, which is a continuation of another video I did the year before exploring themes of memory, family and the longing for natural spaces.
Taking things back to a Pako Quijada before a career in the visual arts. Can you remember the first image you saw which helped to inspire your journey into the visual world?
I can’t pinpoint an exact image that made me go “I want to be an artist”, however, I had a deep connection to creativity growing up. I had an interest in photography from a very young age and I used to draw a lot: first it was Disney characters, then costume design and later house plans. So, I have always been communicating through creative expression, no matter what age. Later in life, I took more serious interest in photography and then filmmaking. The films of Ingmar Bergman really had an impact in me and so did Vermeer paintings.
Creative expression is my way of survival.
Here at itchysilk we love surrealist work but what type of photography really interests you and indeed how would you categorise your own work?
The photography that interests me must move me. It doesn’t matter what style. I think, because of this, you can’t categorise my work because I am very curious and try everything. Maybe I’m better at some styles than others but that’s not for me to decide. Even if the message is not clear or hidden the message in my work has a connection to emotions. All my work carries an emotional quality to it.
There’s a real sense in your work that you are striving for more than just a series of images to visually agitate-how true is that and why do you have that pursuit?
My work is deeply personal and, most of the time, it takes a lot of emotional energy from me to create it. Sometimes it becomes difficult to present it. I would say most of my work is very opaque in its meaning because there is a level of vulnerability attached to it. It communicates enough and the feeling is there but that’s the best way I know how to do it at this moment in time. It’s important to leave the stories open so the audience can take it with them and shape it. I believe that is more interesting and a more fulfilling way of interacting with art than being given a two-page explanation of what it means. You can’t control people’s perceptions of your work so it’s best to let it free.
Memory and photography elaborate and how do you explore that in your work?
Memory is the main subject of my work. I’d say 80% of it is connected to this theme in one way or another. I came to this topic almost by chance and then started consciously developing it. I am very interested in how memories affect us, how we construct them, how much truth is in them, how does it inform our mental health, traumatic experiences and how connected it is to feelings of joy. The present is the only tangible thing we have, but at the same time this present is just a result of memories and how they have shaped us to become or act a certain way. All these reflections are in my work or will be in my work at some point. There is a lot to travel through with memory and visual arts as the perfect vessel.
Photography can be therapy-how has it been a therapy for you and how difficult personally has it been to explore that?
Both photography and video are therapeutic for me. Creative expression is my way of survival. My photo series The Transitory Self illustrates my own journey with depression, cultural shock and loneliness. It was the first time this topic showed up in an open way in my work. It is not easy to share your inner vulnerabilities. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of vulnerability attached to it, especially when it comes to such a heavy topic as this one. But it felt right to finally tackle it, if only on the surface. Mental health awareness is very important to me and with that series I tried to share a bit of my journey without it feeling like I was giving away my privacy.
We really love the XV work the play of light and that dark slightly ominous feel is evident. Discuss this work a bit more please?
Thanks, this video was made while I was living in London and I think it is a very real presentation of how I felt while living there. The work was born from my interest in the devil as a character and its representation in art. But this was just a way of getting across to the deeper truth of this piece, which explores my own mental state at the moment it was created and how living in London at that time made feel trapped and exhausted but ultimately giving in to the flashiness it has to offer, even if I knew it wasn’t good for me.
The present is the only tangible thing we have
The Diptych work again is visually stunning, beautiful but sinister. What inspired such a piece?
This is another work that I created while in London. I did this one back to back with XV so maybe that’s why they share that sinister feel to it. In this case, creating that loop of “watchers” had to do with the fact that everywhere you go in London, there are CCTV cameras around you. Your every step is controlled and recorded. You won’t ever have access to that documentation of your life. It is a scary feeling.
Can we briefly talk about your latest work with Fifi Rong (who we have supported?
The work we did with Fifi Rong came from an audio-visual collective named FUSSOFF, which I co-founded with another visual artist. It was all done within the framework of her new EP and the two music videos we did for her so, even though I took the photos and did the camera work, it’s more of a FUSSOFF project. We had a lot of conversations with her before we went into shooting and throughout the pre-production so there was not a clear intention on how to show her but rather we were working with her to see where we could take this. She really liked our previous work and wanted to have that sort of dark edgy look, which is our signature. Apart from that we were just letting creativity and our collaborative nature flow.
Any forth coming projects you can talk to us about?
I have just started a new series of work called Santuario. It is my first series that is mixed media, combining photography with dried flowers and presented in light boxes. I am also working on a new video piece called CURA, a contemplative work on finding salvation in nature when going through deep grief. I have also just finished organising our first exhibition in Berlin as Othergrounds, another platform I have recently co-founded, which has been such a great success. We are artist-curators aiming to bring a type of art that you won’t see in galleries because it doesn’t comply with the current trends of the art market. I think I will be doing some more curating in the future.