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An Interview with Victor Otero Carbonell. 2018.
Víctor Otero Carbonell, 1985.
Who am I?
I’m Víctor Otero Carbonell, a self-thought figurative artist and art teacher from Barcelona (Spain), now living in Bologna (Italy).
I grew up on a family with special love for arts, my great grandfather was a professional photographer and writer on the 30’s, he was mentioned as one of the best vanguard photographers by the Spanish press. I never meet him, but he was very important person to my grandfather, he learned of him to appreciate all the artistic disciplines, and he transferred this passion to the rest of the family.
As almost all the artists, I remember being drawing all my life, but for me painting started to be my most important passion the day that my mother bought me a Vincent Van Gogh book when I was 16 years old. I felt in love with the portraits of the beginning of his career and his beautiful self-portraits.
One year later, for Christmas arrived to me the present that changed my whole life, my first oil colour box and one field easel. That same day I did painted my first oil painting, it was a beautiful view of my room on an impressionism style.
I never went to an art school, I learned everything by myself, reading art books, experimenting and working hard. When people ask me about that, I use to say: you can learn by yourself wasting lot of time to learn, or you can enter on an art school and learn all the techniques very faster, but there’s a thing that no one can explain to you: how to be creative.
Firsts steps on art world.
The beginnings for an artist sometimes are not a very easy thing. I remember my beginnings wearing a folder loaded with drawings and photographs of my paintings looking for an exhibition on cultural art centers and to the galleries of the city, and how they told me “I like your style but you’re not ready yet”. On that moment, I didn’t understand why these people were refusing to show my paintings, but now I understand the importance of every advice and every critique I received these years, they were made with only one objective: force myself to be better artists, and they do!
I remember the first time I went to an art gallery with my paintings, it was at AB Gallery and Josep Botey (the director) was interested on my work. At the end of the meeting he told me: It’s ok, I like your style, I think you’re a talented painter, but I think that you need to have more freedom with your brushwork. Come to the gallery in two months with new works, I want to see if you can do it!. During two years, I went to the gallery every two months with new works, until the last one when he told me: now you’re ready, you have your first exhibition on the gallery. He was motivating me every two months to fix small problems on my paintings, making me to be a better artist.
The same year, Artevistas Gallery, one of the most better art galleries in Barcelona, accepted me as a resident artist of the gallery.
At this moment, I’m working with different galleries, it brings me the opportunity to focus more on my work and to find new challenges as a painter. On 2016, after work four long years on the same kind of paintings, I arrived to a critic point on my career, I had the sensation of being bored every time I was painting, I didn’t feel ok with my style and technic. I spent half a year working to put my painting onto another level. I started to learn other styles as landscape painting, realistic painting, sculpture, looking for open my mind to new ways to express.
After this “break”, I can say that this is the most beautiful moment on my art career. I’m painting my best works, I developed a good technic, I’m enjoying every moment at the studio and I have lots of projects in mind. I’m working on a long series of self-portraits and portraits of artists and friends, also I’m preparing the works for an exhibition this summer on France with Eric Lacombe and Florian Eiermann at Catherine Mangui Gallery, and I’m very excited about it.
I’m not a conformist artist, in the sense that I don’t like to stay at the same point for years. I like to think that my paintings are a mirror of who I am. As a human person, we are having small changes every single day on our life, and our painting will show those changes and it will change together with us. This point should be point apart, I only want to be a better artist as a figurative painter, I’m obsess with the human figure, but now I’m thinking to try plein-air painting to know more about nature and to open my mind to other ways of work.
What art means for me.
For me, painting is my escape valve. It’s not easy for me express my feelings with words, and that’s why for me painting is my second voice. It means calm, it’s my way to understand myself better, is my way to put in order my thoughts, and the best way I have to express myself to the rest of the world.
What kind of work I do.
Since I started on painting, my big obsession was the human figure, on my works you can find lots of different ways to represent the human body, I paint lots of portraits and full body paintings.
The figures on my paintings are full of emotivity, some people think they’re sad, but for me they have intimacy, softness, melancholy and they’re tender. The way I work the painting have changed a lot the last ten years, at the beginning I was very expressionist on technique and form, and with the years I’m going to a more realistic interpretation of reality but keeping a very intense brushwork.
My favourite medium is oil painting, it brings me the opportunity to work slowly and make corrections while the painting still wet. Also, I work a lot with charcoal vine and charcoal pencils for paper artworks. Charcoal is awesome to practice grayscale values.
My most principal motivation is to understand better the other people, and learn something new of them every day. That’s why the principal theme on my paintings is the human figure, I love how much can express a little movement on a face or in the body, sometimes you can know more about someone for their micro expressions than for their words.
When you have someone in front of you posing for a painting, this person is showing everything of himself, his passions, his fears, his humanity, etc., and as a painter you must be able to read those expressions on his face and show them on the canvas.