Guillermo Lorca Interview
One looks at the artist Guillermo Lorca and inevitably thinks that his enormous baroque works do not suit such a young, typically 21st century artist. This is the first amazing contradiction about a Chilean painter whose works conceal many others; they are intimate, dreamlike, violent, innocent, uncomfortable and mysterious... There are so many layers as well as a lot of imagination and virtuosity on a grand scale. Welcome to his fascinating and complex world.
What did you want to become when you were young?
A palaeontologist who studies dinosaurs.
Have the stories you used to read as a child influenced your artistic imagination? And the books of your mother, the writer, Beatriz García-Huidobro?
Some stories really caught my attention, but I was more influenced by the illustrations, in particular Perrault’s “tales of yesteryear” illustrated by Gustave Doré. Those illustrations were fundamental in developing my entire future imagination.
My mother has been a fundamental support in my education, but above all because I used to watch her painting (it was her hobby when I was a boy). That really attracted my attention and so I started to do it, too. What’s more, she always showed me loads of art books that I eagerly read.
After studying for a year at university, you decided to go to Norway: why Norway? And why with the painter, Odd Nerdrum? What did you learn or unlearn from him?
I went to Norway simply because Odd lived there; if it had been another country, I would have moved there. When I first saw his paintings in a magazine, I was fascinated, and I thought that he could accept disciples as they used to do in the past.
I was not mistaken and that’s the way it was, so I had the great fortune to be able to learn from him for a while. I think that the most important lesson in my time with Odd was to gain a deep understanding of his personal commitment to his art and how to find that spirit in oneself to develop one’s own work.
What inspires you apart from what is mentioned above?
All sorts of paintings by great artists in history, many things from the endless repertoire of nature, movies, illustrations, all kinds of works of art that I come across in different places. At times I come across one that evokes a feeling that is difficult to describe, perhaps something similar to what we associate with “the magic” of childhood. On the other hand, there are many other sensations for which words are not an adequate channel to express myself, thus giving rise to artistic expression.
Tell us about your workflow.
I have catalogued masses of references to paintings that have caught my attention. I review them and they help me to come up with ideas. After that, I sketch and plan the production of reference photos to put together the composition that will be the model for my painting. From that point on, the process of painting is not very different from how it was done 400 years ago.
You have been compared to masters such as Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, or Caravaggio; how do you see yourself, and how would you like to be seen?
I am more than grateful for such comparisons. As far as how I see myself, I am not sure, the image that one has of oneself tends to be quite distorted owing to several factors. I am indeed aware that I have achieved many of the goals that I set for myself when I was younger, and when I stop and calmly observe, that feels really good. As far as the question of how I would like to be seen is concerned, I hope to be regarded as someone authentic in relation to their art: in fact, that is how I feel.
A silly question: Why do you choose such large formats?
The composition I planned beforehand dictates the format. I like to keep the proportions close to a natural scale, and many compositions require a large format.
The inevitable question: What are you doing now? Any new project
I am in the process of closing future exhibitions and in a fruitful creative period, putting together various compositions and developing ideas.
A gossip question: Which artist, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why?
Rubens, I would love to have known first- hand the way he looked at life, since his perspective seems very interesting to me. As far as I know, he was a very disciplined, charismatic, passionate and educated person (you can see it in his paintings). However, it is also known that he was very sociable, in fact, he was assigned diplomatic missions.
All this while he was running a workshop with many assistants and dealing with all kinds of courtiers. Not only does his talent seem remarkable to me, but especially the content of his works; it would be lovely to talk to him.
A question without thinking: Who are these girls and why are so many of them staring at me?
I think that they are a part of my being that manifests itself in that form; they are a kind of ancient, deep and very valuable spirit, perhaps the personification of a kind of soul.
A detailed question: In the painting, La Curandera, the one with the gorilla, there is a falling apple, and, in the painting, The Encounter, the girl steps on two human heads and one of them is your self-portrait. What is the story behind these details?
The first one is called the healer, and I think the apple is there to show the unease of the gorilla, who is throwing things off the table where he is sitting. In the case of the heads, there is much for the viewer to interpret in his own way: I do not close off the story. In any case, with that painting I think that there is an erotic game going on between the character of the girl on the heads, some kind of domination.
In your works entitled Esplendor en la noche there are almost always animals, but rather than being like still life paintings of dead nature, they are more than alive, possessing a dreamlike touch. How much of life or death is there in your works?
I try to balance them, but I prefer to think that there is more life, even if it is very little.
Sex, blood, mist, surrealism, dreams, childhood, power, beauty... What word represents you the most? (add or remove as you see fit).
TENDERNESS, VIOLENCE, PLAY, EROTICISM, COMPASSION, BEAUTY, DEATH, MAGIC & MYSTERY.
Day or night, nature or humanity, love or terror, violence or tenderness, interior or exterior? It is clear that you like duality but do you like balance or do you find it boring for art or life?
The fact is that I see the balance in the works as something intermingled and apparently random that seeks in some way to equate different forces that are contrasted. Duality catches my attention more than balance in itself.
When it comes to my personal life, I do find balance important, and I try to practice it despite my weaknesses.
And speaking of duality, is the future of art digital or will physical art always be more important?
I think they will coexist as we do now in other areas. Digital art has room to grow a lot as immersive experiences improve. We would have to see what happens with that; perhaps in the future, it will not be possible to distinguish one from the other.
In your case, it seems that the rule about the way tormented artists are only recognised after their death has been broken; do you think there has been a change in this respect?
I think that most of the recognised artists were so in life, especially if one reviews the ones prior to the 19th century. The thing is that there have been some tragic stories that have drawn a lot of attention and we are left with those stereotypes.
Now, as far as the bit about tormented is concerned, I don’t know if I’m saved.
What would you change about the art world?
The focus of what is communicated about art to the world is excessively associated with money, record prices and things like that and very little with reflection and other variables: it would be good if that were more balanced.
B. Santiago, Chile, 1984. @guillermolorcagarcia
// Currently, you can see “Esplendor en la noche” at the Moco Museum in Barcelona up until October, 2022.