“There Are No Titans & We are Humanity”:  in conversation with Carlos Iglesias

Carlos Iglesias is one of the most promising international curators in this moment: he lives in Los Angeles with open eyes to see the World. We have talked about his curatorial project Disruptive Canvas and his personal approach in the field of art. For these and many other reasons I decided to interview Carlos and here is what came out of it!

Let’s start with you: who is Carlos Iglesias? When a brand is founded, it starts to be almost always identified with the brand itself and it’s creations, so I ask you to start by telling me a little bit about yourself instead. 

Simply put, I have always had a passion for art, to me it represents a part of our shared ancestry. Art is one of our base forms of communication. Before there were systems of writing formulated to communicate thoughts and ideas between people it was the symbology of a shared existence that became buried in our limbic system, that part of the brain that helps to regulate emotion and more. Each one of us processes the visual in our own way, but it is the catalyst of the visual experience that helps to bring us together. Dr. Eric Kandel, the Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist, has explored the assimilation of art into our brains and delved into our modern brains to understand how art has continued the evolution of our minds in relation to our emotional experiences. One of my favorite quotes from him is that, for himself, staring at a Rothko “is almost a religious experience”. Indeed. Though the language of art has shifted from those earliest of works of the Upper Paleolithic Age to our present Post Contemporary world, art is inherently a part of us all with the power to create a new reality within each of us.

What does being a curator mean to you?

Well, I do not necessarily consider myself a curator so much as a connector. The job of the artist is to create, to speak for us so that we may have a common dialogue. My job is to bring eyes to the work, to help build a path to a higher level of understanding. The artists I share my experiences with speak the things that I can not say, they push me to understand our world and ourselves better. That is something that makes it necessary, for me, to keep pushing against the flaws of our own existence to show that there are ways to affect change.

The name Disruptive Canvas means “tela dirompente” in Italian. Describe your curatorial project: Can you tell us about the idea behind the name and how it forms your identity?

Disruption is a key to creativity. Artists must disrupt their processes and search for how to evolve constantly throughout their careers. I believe people in the art world need to disrupt the current system and find value again in those artists who put the entirety of their minds and souls into great work, work of a historical context. There are enough people chasing shiny objects called art for mass amounts of money. Maybe there is a way, or ways by which to even the playing field a bit…

Curating as a form of art: some curators of reference, and how they recognize themselves in your projects. 

Walter Hopps was the Curator of Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles from 1957-1962 and showed Warhol’s first solo show on the West Coast. Hopps was able to bridge East and West Coast artists together whereby the influence of each group upon the other helped to create the “Light and Space” movement of Southern California artists who, in turn, still influence much of the scene in Los Angeles and beyond. I have had the pleasure of working shoulder to shoulder with the academic and curator Peter Frank. Peter’s vast knowledge of music, languages, art and the world in general reiterates to me the need for the unquenchable thirst of knowledge. His touch is precise in his curatorial process and his eye can be both surprising and enlightening, but not in a flashy way. He is a modern classicist unlike any other I know. Peter has the patience and fortitude to carry his encyclopedic knowledge into influencing a vast amount of artists, curators, directors and writers throughout the United States and that in turn has created a new generation of artistic intellectuals that will provide, in time, a lineage to his as he interned under the infamous Leo Castelli and has curated shows at the Guggenheim in New York City while also writing about art for the Village Voice and the Los Angeles Weekly.  Presently I am working with Pier Paolo Scelsi and Valentina G. Levy, two Italian curators that have assembled the necessary structure to build the Giudecca Art District, the first permanent art district in Venezia. They have each curated brilliant exhibitions and are very forward thinking in not only how to present art in a localized area, but in how to bring different parts of the world together. The projects aren’t just localized in Giudecca, but also in Venezia proper and they are working on a multitude of projects around Europe and beyond in order to bring the energy of their efforts back to Venezia and I am extremely happy and lucky to be a part of the efforts. 

During these months you have been living in Italy, in Venice, to follow your curatorial project in the “GAD” complex. Has Italian culture transmitted anything to you in your work? And for your future next projects?

First of all, Italian culture and the people that I have met during my time in Venezia have taught me how little I know and how much I still need to learn. The classical education of Italians is astounding and their knowledge of art history is deep. I have listened to and watched what is going on all around me here. I know that there are people, ideas, knowledge and emotions that I will carry with me and that will influence not only my perceptions on art, but the emotional understanding of it in a new manner. I hope that I have also been able to impart something worthy to Venezia and to Italy as well. I feel at home here in a way I have never felt before and I am forever grateful for that.  Our next project will be in Milano in 2020, but I am not at liberty to share who the artists are yet. I do hope it is as evocative and prescient as what we we did here in Venezia with “There Are No Titans’ and with “We Are Humanity”. 

To me, your whole project seems to be dealing with three specific words and CONCEPTS: RELATIONSHIPS, SPACES AND INFLUENCES. WHAT’S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN?

Relationships, spaces and influences are congruous elements that encompass a network by which to allow information and energy to traverse obstacles already in place or those that arise via miscommunication and biases. Relationships require transparency and trust, spaces house that trust in order to spark influences that are shared within that structure. This also means that there is potential to break outside of these parameters to exert the same energy in larger formats. That is the importance of these concepts.  In a way it is a matter of Consilience that, by definition, unifies various states of ethos and knowledge into a Zeitgeist which leads to larger influences if directed appropriately.  It is a lofty undertaking to attempt such a task, but without that kind of goal then how are movements created in the first place? And without those kinds of goals how does art move forward to represent us in totality? Relationships=Building Foundations, Spaces=Potential and Influences=The Creation of a Better Future

Currently the exhibitions you are curated here at the GAD were called There Are No Titans & We are Humanity, open until August 11, with the artists Gig Depio, Tanner Goldbeck, Waseem Marzouki, Randi Matushevitz & Lilli Muller. Can you briefly tell us how was this project born and which results do you want to to achieve?

We had the opportunity to exhibit through an invitation by Pier Paolo Scelsi of GAD. The invitation came just 2-3 months before the exhibition so I decided to contact three artists who I thought could make the biggest impact together and who also could make a statement, both separately and in unison, that supported GAD’s inaugural exhibition: Take Care of Your Garden: Cultivating a New Humanism. Upon speaking with Gig Depio, Tanner Goldbeck and Waseem Marzouki and gauging their enthusiasm for this exploratory exhibition in Venice we decided to just get it all together and go for it under the title There Are No Titans. The target for us was to make a pronunciation of how we view certain Hyperobjects; in the case of Depio it was the politics of the art world, American Capitalism and the fractious nature of our society. With Goldbeck, who created his conceptual works for this particular exhibition, it was using the color blue that once represented extremely wealth in Venezia and how the color represents abject poverty in the United States. Goldbeck also challenged the viewer’s notion of homelessness and how those that find themselves in such a situation are not wasted people, they are subjects of our own failures as a society to build them up instead of allowing them to be displaced and set into a system that largely ignores them. Marzouki’s works are emotional response to the Syrian Civil War. They are portraits within a maze of armaments, vehicles of destruction and the machinations of war, a war that the United States has struggled with over the last 8 years. That political struggle doesn’t match the struggle and /or the plight of the Syrians.  Randi Matushevitz is another artist for whom I have a great deal of respect. Her work is dystopian yet the message is one of hope. She is part of the exhibition We Are Humanity along with Lilli Muller. Matushevitz has come to a new level in her creative process and it is apparent in how she has been creating a new series of portraits that exhibit a deep understanding of the individual coping with the effects of modern day society. The first result that we are looking for is exposure, seeing how people respond to the  works , seeing if there are connections…after that is traveling to more places around the world and seeing what we can make happen in a positive fashion as a new movement…

Coda…

I would like to thank you for the opportunity and allowance to present a bit about myself and the things we are trying to do. In nature they are quite subversive, so much so that Disruptive Canvas was almost called Subversive Canvas (to go back to an earlier question). Disruptive Canvas just rolled off the tongue a bit better and also had the particular nuance I was looking for in terms of describing our movement properly. I sincerely hope that the answers I gave have resulted in an understanding worth the reader’s time. 

Carlos Iglesias, Venezia, 01/07/2019


To follow Carlos Iglesias’s projects and keep updated on his works, have a look at his Instagram and Facebook profile. 

https://www.disruptivecanvas.com/