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This is Cristina de Miguel, the Spanish artist causing furor in the United States.

José Luis González, AD magazine, November 29, 2021
















Sevillian and thirty-something, the artist Cristina de Miguel is equally inspired by baroque painting and the banalities of everyday life and intimacy.


Cristina de Miguel (1987, Seville, Spain) lives in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Seville (Spain, 2010) and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute in New York (2012). Her approach to painting is emotional, thinking in formal terms but balancing it with a "let-do" attitude. De Miguel insists on the materiality of painting by fragmenting the figure, so that it is not the central point of the painting but the act of painting itself.


The iconography of her work alludes to action, speed and the possibilities of bodies that physically melt, just as painting drips and melts as well. De Miguel's diversity of interests and influences is both eclectic and unexpected; she draws equally from baroque painting and the banalities of everyday life and intimacy.


Recent solo exhibitions include "Paintings of Through and Fell," Allouche Benias Gallery, (Athens, 2021); "Life in its Poetic Form," Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, (New York, 2020). Her group exhibitions include Van de Weghe Gallery, East Hampton, New York (2021); Sim Smith Gallery, London (2020); Fredericks & Freiser, New York (2020); Herrero de Tejada, Madrid (2019).


AD: It's striking that you always say that Athens changed your life and the way you paint. What did that metamorphosis (a Greek word if ever there was one) consist of? 


Cristina de Miguel: I went to Athens to live for a year thanks to an Erasmus scholarship. I didn't know any Greek when I arrived and that reminded me of being blind, not knowing where to go, not knowing the meaning of what the signs said emptied the words of meaning and they became for me just pure forms. That made me feel more lonely inside, but not lonely of loneliness of relationships, but a cultural loneliness. I hardly had to go to classes, because they were in Greek, so they gave us some studios and I went there every day to paint, without having to answer to anyone. I felt very free. The juxtaposition of opposites inspired me a lot: the chaos, the dirt of the street and the destroyed walls with anarchist posters and graffiti, along with the majestic ruins of a bygone era of glory. I started to make paintings with very watery backgrounds, as if they were out of focus, and then I would put graphic elements on top of them with new, very saturated paint, and that gave rise to an optical illusion of distance between the background and what was in front of it.

AD: It seems that neo-expressionism, minimalism, the fluxus movement, postmodern art, conceptualism and even arte povera are somehow fixed in the DNA of your work. Could you tell us how all this is "cooked" in your works? 


CdM: I have always been very attracted to painting that speaks of the emotional, a painting that is to be experienced from the emotions. It fills me with life to witness the paintings of Twombly, Schnabel etc. because they are about having an experience, feelings that connect with past memories, desire to paint. But they don't make me think and intellectualize. I don't like to think. I also really like it when they present absurd aspects, that I don't know what they are, but it's that you don't need to know or understand everything. That mystery, sometimes with humor, as for example in Garcia-Sevilla's paintings, is one of my favorite things.


AD: What is more important in your work, the emotionality, the technique, your cultural accumulations or, perhaps, all of them? 


CdM: I believe that technique and emotionality merge into a single aspect. What interests me is to make paintings leaving aside so many value judgments and giving way to intuition and the strength of my body executing each gesture with full confidence. Accepting myself as I am as a painter helped me a lot, instead of trying to be like the nebulous idea of the painter I would like to be.


AD: You use neo-expressionism "as a typically masculine style to reconstruct it from a feminine perspective". Is there a militant feminism or a denunciation of the secular female-male inequality? 


CdM: I don't consider those issues when I paint. I rather plan the paintings from a formal point of view. But I let the ideas flow and if images of women trampling on male figures or vomiting in their faces come to my mind, there must be a reason, it's a subconscious thing. But I don't stop and say 'oh, I want to make some paintings that have a vindictive charge, a feminist message'. Simply, those ideas of images come to me by themselves without me thinking about it, they seem appropriate and then I execute them. 


AD: Among other sources, you get your inspiration from literature, what kind of literature do you read, which authors interest you and why? 


CdM: I really like the work of Roberto Bolaño and Julio Cortázar, and a few years ago I used to take scenes from their novels and plan compositions with them, but I stopped doing it because I got bored. It seemed to me that it gave rise to a result very distant from my being. Those paintings that did not come from my own experience in life, were alien and meaningless to me.


AD: You have once stated that "paintings have the right to be what the painter wants them to be". Don't you think that this right vanishes when those who look at them or buy them see what they want to see? 


CdM: Of course. I said that when I was still very young and now it seems silly to have said that. I think I was tired of having to explain my paintings to the professors during the master's program I did at Pratt. In that program I did some very large, rather absurd paintings. I think I did it as a response to having to intellectualize everything in front of the class. However, I'm quite proud of those paintings and I still have them.


AD: The art buying world is divided between the "pure" collector who does it for his own pleasure; and those who speculate with art as if it were Wall Street. Are you aware that your work is starting to be bought under the latter "nose"?


CdM: Yes, that is a reality that is happening in the world. But that's why I work with galleries that I trust and that have a list of trusted collectors who are not supposed to do that. But in the end we can't control everything and my job is to be painting in the studio.


AD: Do you think Brooklyn, as the epicenter of so many cultural trends, "loves" you? 


CdM: I don't know. Here there is a very good coexistence among the artists, everyone does different things and there is an atmosphere of camaraderie in general. 


AD: Do you think that in the spaces where we live, decoration by itself is meaningless without the cultural touch provided by books, painting or sculpture; or do you opt for minimalism at all costs?


CdM: I think everyone should live with good art in their home. Living with art makes the experience of space so much more profound. What a sad life without it!

Photo: Procession II, 2021, de Cristina de Miguel. © Thomas Müller / Courtesy Cristina de Miguel

Prensa | Así es Cristina de Miguel, la artista española que causa furor en Estados Unidos | Villa Magdalena
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