Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Spanish born artist Virginia Moreno became part of the London art world in September 2008. I love the transformative concepts and qualities of her work! She is exhibiting as part of a collective group later this year in December at The Candid Arts gallery in Angel Islington. (The private view is on Thursday 2nd December). You can see more and read more on her website: www.virginiamoreno.com

Although I’m currently in Malaysia and Virginia is currently in Spain, we managed to start a conversation which turned into an interview!

M: How would you best describe your current work?

V: ‘I am interested in creating images that penetrate the viewer's unconscious. I play with factors such as the innocence of childhood, the illusion of carnival's landscape, the application of pure colors, and excessive use of graphics in harsh and delicate strokes. Sometimes when I paint, I experience anxiety, other times psychological calm - factors that are marked on my characters. To read a painting is like understanding a map. What the artist sees in his inner landscape is what is reflected in his work. If I go away from myself and I stop to think about the characters that I do, I would say they share a violent and melancholic character.’

‘Irati’ Virginia Moreno Illustration ©

M: What are your earliest memories of feeling artistically inspired?"

V: ‘
When I was a child, I remember my uncle painting; I kept him company in silence and I remember wanting to paint as well as he did. Most of his pictures were about bullfighting but with an ironic character. Eduardo, my uncle, also painted a series of clowns which he put up on the walls of the restaurant of my mother's family. They were colourful portraits made with colour waxes. I loved looking at them. I also spent hours watching Warner Bros and Disney cartoons on television so I used to copy American animation characters. I do admire this world full of fantasy, fun and craziness. It was a motivation for me and that is why I started to create cartoons thought my imagination. I drew pictures based on that inner world of my childhood thus featuring princesses and monsters of all kinds. It used to be my play and escape from boredom. I remember I used to lie a lot when I was little and fantasy sometimes confused me. Fantasy when you're child is something that provides a magical factor to the way you understand things.

While in primary school, I always sat at the end of the class next to a shelf with my clay figurines that I had made myself and when I turned nine years old my school tutor bought me my very first pair of oil paint brushes as a birthday present. Later on my aunt bought me an oil painting kit and for mothers' day I painted two white swans using oil as a gift for her. These are things that I can remember, now. Earlier this year I painted swans again, for my work - "Ne me quitte pas".’

‘Untitled II’ Mixed technique on canvas, 2010, Virginia Moreno ©

M: As you are Spanish born artist who explores ideas about reality, are you influenced by Salvador Dali in any way?

V: ‘In my case, images are not evoked in the boundaries of sleep. Instead, it happens through memory. As a painter, I love Dali's speech - when he spoke, for example, about the sublime; a term that every artist must have in mind in my opinion. For me, inspiration happens while you are working; it is where a succession of intense emotions, sensations, anxieties, intuition and imagination occurs. Inspiration is something private and unique for every artist. With the right inspiration one can raise the usual state of consciousness from inside and from your inner landscape. So the artist is a conduit of two kinds of images, ones are classified by belonging to a real state which you can remember and some images are not remembered but are dormant somewhere within the memory. In my opinion the imagination is a raw and primitive way of knowledge.’

Dali's paintings were influenced by the classics of the Renaissance and Vermeer. I believe that Salvador Dali understood the paint as a mathematician more than a painter.

For me more pictorially valuable were the studies of two Spanish master painters and revolutionaries also: Francisco de Goya with "los caprichos y las pinturas del quinto del sordo" and El Greco, for their characteristics in expression and transformation inside the canvas.’

My first paintings were completed during my studies at the Fine Arts Faculty of Salamanca in Spain. These were completely expressionist. My fixation at that time was on the representatives of this new sensitivity of the early century Viennese expressionist paintings; by painters such as Egon Schiele and Oscar Kokoschka. It was then that I began studying about the psychology within the painting, a very important factor for me. In the work of Egon Schiele, his use of the line as a means to study the psychological of personage is brilliant. My work is full of drawings formed through my imagination and through the line I can show to the public.’

‘Murder of two prostitutes in Columbia’ Mixed technique with collage, 2007 Virginia Moreno ©

In the close future Virginia Moreno will be exhibiting at Gallery East in Brick Lane next year. The date has not yet been confirmed but invitations will be sent via email to those who would like to see her show. If you would like an invitation – email Virginia through her website www.virginiamoreno.com and she will be delighted to keep you informed.

In the meantime if you would like to see Virginia’s work you can contact her for an appointment.

By Mairead Gillespie

Contact: virginiamoreno11@gmail.com

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Aaaah the life of the self employed….. this time I did something constructive with my day and oh boy was it a good one!

Being completely honest, before the exhibition Martin Margiela was always the guy who designed the weird trotter shoes and the guy whose lookbook is stuck to my bedroom wall only because the model’s eyes were blocked out by what looked like a marker pen (kooky) – so why has he got some massive exhibition at Somerset House? He’s not exactly Jean Paul Gaultier or Hermes….nope but he assisted them!

My friend Harry Walker volunteered to accompany on this outing and since I work in the creative industry I thought I should appear fully knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the enigmatic designer. Basically I wanted to show off. But why for the life of me could I not get a picture of his face in my head?!

So after a little Google and style.com I realized that Margiela is actually a big dog. I can forgive him for the trotter shoes if he started off as an assistant to Gaultier. I also found out why I couldn’t put face to name and that is because he has never been photographed. Keeping mysterious is always a smart move in my book – only because it has been pulled off by geniuses such as Gorillaz whose consist of a virtual band and Kate Moss who doesn’t speak. I wish David Beckham took a leaf out of her book.

Another word which to my irritation kept on popping up in the Google search engine was the term ‘deconstructivism’. Apparently this term contains ‘ideas of fragmentation, an interest of manipulating ideas of a structure’s surface or skin’ bla bla bla. Basically Margiela’s clothes are going to use non-traditional fabrics, recycled material and have the seams and hems the wrong way around to show how the garment was constructed. My first reaction was boooorrrinngg. No matter how much I want to like the Estethica bit of London Fashion week’s exhibition I find myself quickly hopping around the area until I get to the good stuff which wasn’t made out of newspaper.

These initial preconceptions of this exhibition were completely unsupported by any sort of thorough investigation or previous exposure to the designer so I must say to the people who are reading this, it was a tad unfair – especially when my actual experience of it was completely different to my negative expectations!

As soon as we entered Somerset House I knew it was going to be a good day because the sheer magnificence of it all made me feel slightly overwhelmed. I always forget to pay the place a visit but when I do I always experience the same effect. From the minute we stepped into the place, I knew this exhibition was all about detail. Little ‘Tabi’’ (the trotter shoes I referred to above) footprints guided us towards the exhibition space and after I paid my £6 I entered Margiela world. Completley mad!! But good/fashion mad and that’s difficult to do especially when it’s borderline art. You certainly get your money’s worth unlike some place ehem national portrait gallery.

The exhibition celebrates Maison Martin Margiela’s 20 successful years as one of the world’s most influential fashion houses and instead of showing sentimental moments of which the public will always feel slightly removed, it depicted the transcendental moments of Margiela’s impact on the fashion industry. However, this does not mean that the exhibition was entirely without personality; as we walked in there were architectural scale models of the exhibitions in different countries followed by a three-dimensional group portrait of Maison Martin Margiela in Styrofoam sin designer – it was these sort of constant references to his employees that made it all seem so worthwhile and more valuable.

The exhibition had quite an arty feel but not in a pretentious twatty way because it kept the fashion element without pretending it was in the same category. Whilst inspecting numerous tailored jackets with the shoulder silhouettes a projection of Margiela’s Spring Summer 2009 catwalk show was booming in the backdrop. The show celebrated the House’s 20th anniversary and lo and behold, when I took a closer look I figured out what those marker pen smudges were on the lookbook on my wall – sunglasses!

Little intricacies like that unraveled the true meaning of Maison Margiela : I now understood and appreciated the trotter feet as well as the painted clothes and the fur jacket made from blond wigs – did you know he was the creator of the flat garments (e.g. a vacuum packed sweater that is completely flat and can be zipped open into a square) Didn’t know that was Margiela. Everything that I thought would irritate me e.g. inside out dresses, exposed seams and recycled materials, instead contributed more to the essence of the designer and not only made me appreciate the thought process behind the clothes but made the garments even more aesthetically pleasing.

It was a mind boggle but in a good way. When I looked at the one segment of the exhibition it was difficult to find the next one because the exhibition had been layed out so that it was a Margiela wonderland! And even though I was running around trying to get a sense of where to look next – it was all because I was intrigued and never impatient. It was a real pleasure to experience the colossal effort Somerset House had put into the exhibition.

Even when I went into the Birthday room (my fave room which was a mad visual whirlwind of images from the fashion shows, films and photography) my childish excitement was not restrained by that irritating sssshhhh usually imposed on me whenever I reach a certain decibel in an art exhibition. I must say I had quite unashamedly rolled around in the spurting confetti when the security man /art knowledgeable person approached me. Thinking I was going to get told off I thought of as many witty responses so not to feel so embarrassed but instead he had come over to let me know that I had confetti in my hair! From the design layout to the people who work at Somerset House the whole thing made me feel inspired, satisfied and welcomed. It’s not everyday you can walk into such a huge exhibition at one of London’s most prestigious locations and feel that you can probe and question, and dance around a room full of confetti without feeling stupid!

Thanks Maison Martin Margiela xxx

By Sacha Harrison

Daily 10.00-18.00, until 20.00 Thursdays
Until 21.00 on 4 and 5 August
Embankment Galleries, South Wing
£6, conc £5, under 12s free