Albert Pinya: The Time is Now

By Etienne Verbist - Monday, November 7, 2016
Albert Pinya: The Time is Now

Do you know Albert Pinya? If you don’t recognize this name, you’re going to want to pay attention. Pinya is one of the most celebrated members of the new generation of Spanish painters, born in the 1980s. Above all, his work is characterized by its constant questioning of morality and human behavior. Combining elements that are equally tragic, absurd, grotesque, decadent, ridiculous and irreverent, which are linked at times to an ironic vision, which is comical in other times, or a little naïve in other occasions or even gruesome sometimes, Pinya works to take us all a step closer to the here and now.


Do you know Albert Pinya? If you don’t recognize this name, you’re going to want to pay attention. Pinya is one of the most celebrated members of the new generation of Spanish painters, born in the 1980s. Above all, his work is characterized by its constant questioning of morality and human behavior. Combining elements that are equally tragic, absurd, grotesque, decadent, ridiculous and irreverent, which are linked at times to an ironic vision, which is comical in other times, or a little naïve in other occasions or even gruesome sometimes, Pinya works to take us all a step closer to the here and now.

Recipient of the AECA Award for the best Spanish artist represented in ARCOmadrid 2014, and one of the ten artist selected for the 31ª edition of the BMW Prize, Pinya is well on his way to making his name widely recognized. 

Artdependence Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?

Albert Pinya: My name is Albert Pinya, I was born on the 23rd of June - the eve of the sorceress’ solstice - in 1985 in Palma de Mallorca.

People say I am an artist, but I actually think of myself as a different thing every day. A smuggler of ideas, a maker of imagery, creative humanist, social commentator, enthusiastic pessimist, luxury prostitute, etc.

AD: What is your goal?

AP: My intentions and objectives are very disparate, but there is always a common root: I love storytelling, mostly through images. Regardless of the materials or media involved, the aim is to communicate. To provoke others to ask questions even if there are no answers to be found. Nudging them into the culture of thinking above and beyond seeking entertainment. Art is one of the keys to create new kinds of values, societies and a different world.

AD: What is your dream project?

AP: To continue working freely, without restrictions or limiting taboos, with access to adequate resources; to feel that the work I am undertaking is in some way useful to advance society in its development, as our world is becoming so hyper-complex.\

Summer 2016, La danza de los nigromantes, 140x220cm. Acrylic on canvas, 2016.

The Red Soup, 180x180cm. Acrylic on canvas, 2014

Installation view at Sala Pelaires. Palma de Mallorca, 2013

AD: Why do you do what you do?

AP: Because I am not equipped to face any other lifestyle or profession.

AD: What role does the artist have in society?

AP: They are the philosophers of contemporary society. A platform which can entice questioning on existence, history, and life. In Fernando Sánchez-Castillo’s words; “What is the role of the artist? To point out contradiction. That crack which lights suspicion.” Amen.

AD: What themes do you pursue? 

AP: In 2011, I was invited by the chef Maria Solivellas (one of the pioneers in the Slow Food movement in Spain and the neogastronomy movement in the Balearic Islands) to produce a mural in her iconic restaurant located in the village Caimari (Mallorca), nestled in the Serra de Tramuntana (Declared World Heritage site by Unesco during the same year).  This invitation marked the start of a new phase in my artistic practice, as I became aware of the power of food as a vehicle for communication, and I instinctively united iconography with reflections and concerns that had been simmering within. This experience and the resulting discovery opened doors to the communion between my visual language and the sublimation of the rural universe, which underscores much of my current practice. This remission towards ancestral times infused my works with the telluric undertones with which I evoke the profound fundamentals of primitive cultures and those which are manifested in some contemporary cultural expressions which take place on the margins of mainstream culture - which is itself saturated with imagery, hollow information, and superfluous, unnecessary ornamentation. The fascination with simplicity and the efficiency of ancestral cultures has not left me since that first experience.

This line of research, and this desire to return to the origins, has inspired the notion of Agropower, as a concept that defines life on the margins of urban society, anchored in the celebration of landscape, rural traditions and creative processes involved in the hand made. Moreover, this context calls for the inevitable need to search for new social formulas and the appearance of the Contemporary Hero. Charged with an ancestral weight, almost totemic, Contemporary Heroes are all those who have been able to defend their ability to conserve their unique and unchanging identity, to enjoy their ability to survive despite the avalanche of transient fads, the influence of short lived fashions which are produced en masse.  Hence, Contemporary Heroes are the pillars of Agropower, icons which are venerated in a similar vein as the art produced by the cave man in the Stone Age,with magic and nature taking the front stage.

My practice distances itself from the notion of “l’art pour l’art”, guided by the assumption that as a mechanism of expression, art is inherently a tool for communication and must be therefore grounded in ideology.

Installation view at Allegra Ravizza Art Project. Milano, Italy, 2011

Taca, 50x50cm. Acrylic on canvas, 2015

AD: What’s your favorite art work?

AP: I’ve always felt especially drawn to cave paintings. An ancestral language, which is nonetheless so contemporary - with such defined aesthetics, iconic and primitive, and such majestic power. As if they were the first manifestations of contemporary graffiti; with a magical and supernatural approach to life. Some good examples are the ones you can find in the Altamira caves (Spain) and Chauvet (France).

AD: What memorable responses have you had towards your work?

AP: I receive very different reactions to my work. Members of committees and specialist juries award me prizes, important art collectors pay thousands of euros for my work, and some people say that a small child could do what I do. Ha ha! It’s all so bizarre! I find it’s best to not expect anything from anyone, and to follow my own belief, taking full responsibility for the consequences, regardless of whether they turn out to be positive or negative.

AD: What do you dislike about the art world?

AP: I dislike practically all of it. The market, the lobby groups, the art fairs, the magazines that follow trends, some curators and gallerists, overbearing collectors, haughty critics who are full of themselves, mystical artists, Facebook artists, etc. That dreaded moment when I find myself alone in my studio, facing the abyss of creation.

AD: What role does art funding play?

AP: Both public and private funding are essential to help artists grow and develop their projects. Normally, most of the support for young artists comes from the private sector, the public sector should become more proactive in this. Education is the way to navigate to a better world and better future.

AD: What research do you do? 

AP: I research constantly, daily. Anything around me can elicit further study and close observation. Poetic subjects are many but not everyone has the good fortune of being able to spot them. You need to have a trained eye, and you need to be prepared because these things appear when you least expect them.

Installation view Laboratorio Pinya at Fundación Sa Nostra. Palma de Mallorca, 2009


Installation view at Galleria Allegra Ravizza. Lugano, Switzerland, 2015

AD: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

AP: Do all that you want. Without hope. Without fear. 

AD: What would you have done differently?

AP: Everything & Nothing.

AD: What is the role of the public in your projects?

AP: They play an essential role to complete the process that an artwork is born to carry out. The spectators’ gaze and experience is the key which allows the ideas to flow and filter through into society.

AD: How can the public participate in your projects?

AP: There’s many ways; some more active than others. I’m interested in discovering their opinions and interacting with them. But to be a good author, one has to begin by being honest with oneself, above all, before beginning to consider other people’s comments and actions.

AD: How are you connected with the public?

AP: I don’t know. I don’t think I’m too connected. I’m more like a satellite. I like to keep a certain distance to guard my intimacy.

AD: The crowd economy creates meaningful experiences and shared values - how do see it affecting your work?

AP: The exchange, in a reciprocal direction, is essential between both parties. Artists must enrich society with their ideas and society should offer support to the artist, to help him or her survive and expand the reach of the artwork. An alliance between the two is essential and necessary.

AD: Co-creation and participation are emphasized in the crowd economy, as communities take an active, collective stake in crafting positive futures. How do you use the crowd?

AP: I try to maintain them informed of all the steps and actions I take. But, I'm not a slave. I feel more identified with the minority who have not fallen victim of excessive use of information technology and social networks.

AD: How do you interact?

AP: I must admit I don’t interact much. My concerns are different; creating and destroying language.

AD: How do you handle feedback?

AP: I’m usually quite a receptive person. Listening to others does not annoy me as long as they have something interesting to say. However, when it comes to my own work, I try to ensure that I’m the final decision maker.

Totem, 40x27x15cm. Assemblage, 2007

Google, 50x50cm. Acrylic on canvas, 2011

AD: How do you create interaction?

AP: It’s important for me that the galleries, spaces and stakeholders I work with have a network that includes a variety of media, so that I can disseminate news about the work I am doing.

Personally, I much prefer print press. I love paper, and I’m somewhat of an anachronism. I feel more comfortable engaging with others face to face, in person, rather than through a computer screen. But I am aware of the growing importance of digital media and social networks nowadays.

AD: What are the results? 

AP: The results are not negative - I have been able to continue working the way I like for now. Although, who knows, maybe the impact would have been better had I built access to more resources and social networks.

AD: How do you measure results? 

AP: I measure results in terms the number of projects I take on from one year to the next.

AD: How do you measure the effect?

AP: I don’t measure it at all. I don’t give any importance to this. My obsession is focused on the work I do in my studio.

AD: What Social Media platforms do you use?

AP: Haha! Is that a joke? I am the tormentor of social networks!

The answer is: none. But I like it when people I work with use them.

Image above: Portrait Albert Pinya. Photo by Alexander Feig.

Etienne Verbist is an authority in the field of crowd sourcing, disruptive business modelling and disruptive art. After a well filled career with companies such as GE, Etienne was an early adopter of crowd sourcing. Etienne is manager Europe and Africa for Crowd Sourcing Week, a board advisor to a broad range of companies on innovation and new technology, curator of the Disruptive Art Museum – the smallest museum in the world – and columnist for ArtDependence Magazine.

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Image of the Day

Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).

Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).


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