We’re pleased to present “Legacy” featuring new paintings and drawings by Spanish painter, illustrator, and muralist Dulk. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with Thinkspace, and we’re honored to be showcasing the internationally known artist who creates worlds of stylized Animalia and character creatures. Our interview with Dulk discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, his creative process, and favorite mural festival memory.
Join us for the opening reception of “Legacy“ December 1st from 6 pm to 9 pm.
SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work?
DK: In this body of work I wanted to go a little further than in the previous exhibitions and look for a link between the beginning and the end of the life. We come from the earth and in these artworks everything seems to return to it. Although the earth keeps on turning on its axis and keeps orbiting around the Sun, for our everyday lives it is still the most solid groundbase we have.
In the same way, the multiple characters that swarm in the mirror-like depths of these paintings appear to be arrested, frozen and petrified. Everything flows in a motionless paroxysm. Human nature makes us not really see what is happening before our eyes, we do not see the problems or maybe we do not want to see them. Hence, this attempt to camouflage the disaster.
This exhibition confronts us with a fantastic world where everything flows, changes and transforms in manifold different ways. That being said, the underlying discourse is unified, categorical and self-evident: man is killing Nature and its incredible biodiversity which we ought to love for many reasons but which, nevertheless, we are destroying day by day, step by step.
SH: How do you capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?
DK: Normally I always bring with me a moleskine where I write down words, concepts or small drawings with notes. You never know when an idea may come to you so it is necessary to be prepared. If for any reason I don’t have it, I usually write it down on my mobile phone and as soon as I get to my computer I put it on a list. Many of them will never see the light, but it is good to have a folder of possible ideas stored in the trunk.
Nature photography is my other passion, many of the images I shoot in my travels are the basis of my future creations. I also follow many nature photographers and I have a very complete folder of photographic material in which I immerse myself before starting a new piece. I usually start from an element, central character that I want to represent for some reason and from here I imagine its history.
SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
DK: My work shows the inner vision of my personal tastes. I remember when I was a child and I saw my father’s illustrated bird books, I thought, when I grow up I want to be a bird cartoonist. It sounded very surreal and I laugh when I remember it, today it is not what I dedicate myself to 100%, but it has a direct relationship with those dreams of childhood.
I enjoy my work from the first step. Organizing my research/inspiration trips or researching in my editorial collection. This step is one of the ones I like most about the creation process because that’s where everything comes from, it’s the moment when you start giving life to new works and you feel emotion for the future of the piece. Without any doubt, it is where creativity gains more power.
My work makes me happy because it brings together my two passions, nature and art and that makes me feel very fortunate. On the other hand, not everything is beautiful, you live in constant pressure, it is a very difficult profession to carry, many trips, uncontrolled pace and often a bit chaotic but I am sure that without all this it would not be me. You have to feel it. Each project is a new game, a whole thing full of sensations that make you more prepared for the next.
SH: What frustrates you about your work/ creative process?
DK: I do not really have any relevant negative feelings, maybe the only thing could be work times, I’m very methodical and I spend a lot of time in the pre-production phase of the works, drawing and researching and maybe that delays me the production tempos, but at the same time, I think that it is necessary to invest that time to establish the foundations of the project with more strength. Many times I envy people with styles that can be reproduced by another hand than the artist’s own, because you can cover many more projects simultaneously, but at the same time I think that work loses its warmth. Still, that is what can frustrate me the most, not being able to reach all the projects I would like. This is the good and the bad thing about having such a personal style, it makes it unique in all the senses. I enjoy every step of the creative process, so I try to take care of and pamper every piece from the first stroke to its last detail.
SH: Do you remember your dreams? If so, can you share with us one of your more recent vivid dreamscapes?
DK: The truth is that I do not usually remember dreams, only when I wake up and very seldom, then they become part of the most hidden side of our minds. The dream is a way of processing and accumulating what happened during the day. At night, the brain digests and metaphorically filters information, and in my opinion, what the brain saves becomes part of who we are. Sleep is like the digestive system of the brain.
Perhaps many of the elements that appear in my works come from that hidden inner world and mix with the reality of everyday life to create compositions free of restrictions. Hence my influence with the surrealist movement. In my opinion the surrealist creative process starts from the pure psychic automatism to try to express, verbally, visually, or in any other way, the functioning of reality. Surrealism is not a technique, nor a school; it is a way of seeing and understanding reality, or how to understand the reality of the dream come true.
SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?
DK: Art has many connotations for each person, each person has different tastes in the sense that each individual considers art different things. Art is influential depending on the point at which the artist wants the audience to understand his work and at the same time the public is interested in art if it is done in the context in which it lives. By combining these two parts, art can be influential, sometimes it can make people think, sometimes these people can stop to look at what they see and others directly and not flinch.
Speaking of my art, I do not pretend to act as an activist and show people the errors or natural disasters that we are causing, I simply want to offer images that make us think and reflect on the reality of our days. I like to work on antagonistic concepts, frustrated ideals or colorful nightmares, which find their meaning when the viewer feels sensations when observing them.
SH: If your body of work inspired an ice cream flavor, what would it be called and what are the ingredients?
DK: It would be a combination of vanilla and bitter dark chocolate. At first glance we are faced with a sweet and appetizing taste that invites you to savor the work from the beginning to the end but once seduces us and we enter into your body the hidden message represents the reality of the characters who are threatened, many times injured and others directly extinct, form scenes full of sarcasm. I try to capture the viewer with a pleasing palette in sight and organic forms, to later immerse him in a tragic realism hidden in an ideal world. Love and hatred are recurrent in these works beautiful in form and terrible in the background.
SH: You’ve painted murals around the world? Can you share with us a memorable moment from one of those journeys?
DK: One of the places I remember most is Churchill, Canada. Churchill is a city on the west coast of Hudson Bay in the province of Manitoba, which is famous for the many polar bears that come from its seas from the hinterland in the fall, so it is called the “polar bear capital of the world”. It is also very famous for the amount of beluga whales that come in the summer to mate. It is a totally remote place that I wanted to travel to take photographs some years ago, it was one of those places that I wanted to visit as a source of inspiration for my work, but when I saw the flight ticket prices from Spain I discovered that it was very expensive and I decided to leave it for later.
Coincidences of life, two years ago, at the end of 2016, I received an email from Tré Packard, (organizer of Seawalls and Pangeaseed director) told me that he was organizing a mural festival in Churchill for the summer of 2017. Tré warned me that, given the circumstances of the place, it was going to be a totally different festival than what I was used to. Apart from being a place that can only be reached by light plane or train, during those dates there were floods that destroyed the train tracks so it was only reached by plane. All the materials to paint, as well as the food came in the small plane with us, we loaded the provisions ourselves. We had a couple of lifts for about 12 artists which we took turns according to needs and very little painting. I’ve been in too many festivals but the circle of friendship that was created in this place was pure magic.
Painting in the cold night in summer observing the boreal aura or listening to the whales screaming and watching them flutter while I was on top of my scaffolding were some of the things that I lived there. They joined my two passions, nature and art in its purest form to spend 15 unforgettable days. When things come up with a purpose like this, a festival does not need anything else, it does not matter if there is little painting or few means, friendship and experience is what counts and that at the end of the day is what you remember on your return to home.
SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
DK: I love the cinema and especially the stop motion animation. One of the collaborations that I would most enjoy would be to work in a film production of this type with the the dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, obviously this is impossible but we were talking about dreams.
SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece?
DK: The piece “Carousel” was perhaps the most complicated to finish. After two weeks working on it in detail I applied glazing techniques to enhance the effect of water in the underwater area by covering it all with bluish veiling. I had never worked a piece in which most of the scene is submerged and also with a large size. At first it was very dark and I had to rescue zone by zone the effects of light and shadow to recover the strength and order of the elements of the scene in the areas where it needed but it made me gain depth and improve the aquatic effect. In the end the problem made me look for a solution and greatly improve the final result.
SH: You used to work in advertising and animation as an artist while still developing your own creative and artistic voice. What advice would you give other artists who have the creative day-job that may leave them burned out at the end of the day to work on their own art?
DK: As you said I’ve worked in animation, illustration, fashion or advertising, meanwhile I have been developing my personal style and applying it to the different aspects. Today I have realized that what I really need is to work on the development of my work with a more artistic purpose.
Living from your own art is something complicated, it is something so passionate that it becomes a lifestyle and it is very difficult to separate your personal life of the professional. This is where many joys and sorrows come and you have to take the control. As a main point I would highlight the work and effort as a starting point, and from here to consider yourself because you dedicate yourself to this. I personally do it because there are things that have to come out from me, I have never thought why I do it, It simply comes because I need it, it is part of my personality and a mode of expression in silence.