Chronics -most of us- are machines with flaws inside that can’t be repaired, flaws born in, or flaws beat in over so many years of the guy running head-on into solid things… (Ken Kesey, One flew over the cuckoo’s nest)
American geography nurtures a suburban imaginary confronted between the pristine pools of glass Californian houses and backyard inflatable tubs of southern big rambling shed, among armfuls of those young bodies chiseled by the libido of Hockney and grotesque families that former films of Harmony Corinne or Harry Crews literature dared to portray.
Xevi Solà is interested in these backyards, in the reverse side of the frivolous and snobbish apathy. His paintings evoke places that we, as foreign, impregnate with tragic epic, places devastated by tornadoes before which civilization slowly step back. Only weeds, white trash, grow in these arid lands. Is growing and reproducing, with his brood of tough guys and eccentric women, inbred ghettoes inmersed in atavistic mystic, outside of any moral code.
But it’s not about American psychopathy of what purports to speak Xevi but rather he uses a shared filmic and literary heritage to bring out the chaos that underlies all social order. He uses Deep South as metonymy of that part of the collective unconscious linked to instincts, sexuality, pre-morality… ultimately the Jungian shadow.
Q- Spindly girls in provocative, exhibitionists, zoophilic attitudes, with absentminded husbands or parents. Female usually adopts an active role, while man is acting almost like a piece of furniture, and by focusing on this model of ungainly woman you look into some kind of lascivious innocence, stark sensuality.
The woman is the main subject of my work, but I’m also interested in the power of contrast. When the energy of the male character appears, I like to think that more than a secondary part in the scene acts as a counterpoint to build that dialogue. In the process the women and men have become opposite ends, mainly to better convey the message.
Q- But those women also have some of martyrs, vulnerables in their nakedness, in the lap of their mothers as a Pietà in female version … The mother figure as cause of psychosis?
They have a lot of martyrs, are exposed and vulnerable, but I always try to give them a worthy expression, even comfortable, with the attitude of someone who sees herself as winner and looks at us with a certain condescension. I do not intend to grant any guilt especially to the mother, the girls of my paintings are freaks, and I dare not say whether the freak are born or made.
Q- Speaking of psychosis, gloomy hitcockian house has been leitmotiv in yours paintings, sometimes in symbiosis with Tideland of Terry Gillian or with Usher’s house of Poe … From Gothic novels to Southern Gothic a whole shelf of references abound in your work, references that could take up the phrase of Diane Arbus: “If you look at the reality closely enough it becomes fantastic.”
I didn’t know this phrase of Arbus, but I think the unreal can also be in the eyes of the beholder, even though he looks from afar. American Gothic for me is a tool to make the story more universal and house with large windows in the background is a simplified way to represent the voyeuristic society.
Q- And in this excessive approach your look oozes humor, making the extreme naturalism turned to a surreal (or suprareal) absurd. That dark side that, next to the eccentric behavior of people, also symbolize animals (free from any moral), can be read as a plea for individual whim above homologator consensus, acceptance of idiocy above all logic as airlock through which to channel the untamed and find in dementia some remnant of freedom?
I think in the society in which we live logic often becomes absurd but is under-used. I am convinced that dementia has nothing to do with freedom, but I think that some anti-social behavior can be very lucid. The individual whim often draws attention for its originality, and that is what it is in the art world, drawing attention, in some way.
Q- In recent compositions falsely idyllic meadows where your characters are located tend to move to painted paper of rooms which gaudy color acts as transcript of mental overexcitement of those milky skin muses. Where is your painting moving towards? Will you make us enter those battered houses with carpeted floors that until recently we only saw as part of the outside scenario?
I have long been painting my characters outdoors and I feel very comfortable, although a couple of years ago a gallery owner and friend offered me an exhibition only of indoors. It was a challenge because initially I felt some claustrophobic, but I did what I could and now somehow I’m over it. I have many ideas for future works and new ways of painting, my mind goes much faster than my hand, but I’ll try this evolution to be as natural as possible.