Espada and Monleón are two artists and gourmets who have been working together on edible projects for three years.
We started out from humble beginnings, organising events for friends and family to find a new way of socialising and enjoying food.
Since then, we’ve explored many new formats and contexts and taken part in projects and public programmes at various institutions, including Picnic Sessions at CA2M, El comisariado 2.0 at the Sala de Arte Joven at the CAM, the Campo Adentro programme and LaLaboral.
As artists we’re followers of the Surrealist project in search of worldwide sensuality and edibility.
As gourmets we have to face our own insatiable appetites.
1. What made you choose art as a profession?
Espada and Monleón: Perhaps this questionnaire assumes respondents are professional artists. We don’t carry out our work as Espada y Monleón professionally. We do what we do driven by emotions and passions. I think it was mutual seduction. Our work draws on our respective professions. Although things are becoming increasingly institutional, for us EyM is a place where we seek refuge from the progressive professionalisation of the arts, a place where we can work differently.
2. How would you define your work?
Espada: I don’t always understand everything we do; for me it’s important to satisfy your impulses. When I see a work of art, I don’t try to decode it completely, but rather extract its emotional content within the limits of comprehension.
Monleón: Sensory militancy. Critical hedonism. Gastrosophy.
3. What subjects are you interested in?
EyM: Corporal intelligence. Re-educating the senses. Prototyping feelings. Processes of digesting, assimilating and metabolising.
4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
EyM: Sensations linked to the palate. Broad gastronomic culture and its history. Synaesthesia. Edible materials. Culinary techniques. Concepts from aesthetics and art history.
5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
E: Just like when you spin a kaleidoscope, reality is constantly spinning, an unstable situation with concentric or centrifugal forces that make up configurations of the real and the intimate.
M: In a certain fashion, our pieces are linked to reality, since the senses of taste and smell are incapable of perceiving fictions. You create fictional tastes (and smells) through suggestion, confusion and synaesthesia.
Raw materials? Anything and everything that produces a sensation able to be transformed into a new world.
6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
E: For me art is a ritual, pure exoticism.
M: Art is a fundamentally transforming activity. It has the power to turn an experience into an object.
7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
E: I’m a firm believer in the figure of the host. In pleasing. In the affinity of desires between the artist and spectator. Creating an evasion understood as a choice of parallel realities.
M: Surprise, a burst of feeling between expectation and sensation. We’re aiming at the general public.
8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
E: Cookery studies and fine art.
I really value the unspecialised nature of my education; I like experimenting with many different expressive and creative resources.
M: A BA in fine art from Chelsea College of Art. University of the Arts London.
I’m currently taking a PhD in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, London.
I enjoyed the freedom to explore thoughts, disciplines, mental spaces; the lack of difference between life and work; and the shift between ideas and material constructs.
9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
EyM: Ever-changing. We don’t appear to be short of ideas. The trouble is fitting them to longer-term projects.
The future is looking fantastic.
10. Many artists say it’s difficult to make a living from their work; how do economic considerations affect you when it comes to work? Do you think this has a bearing on your work?
EyM: Since we aren’t professional artists, the act of creation is sometimes forced to exist in the gaps, in what they call free time. This can infuse it with a certain enthusiasm. In the case of our work, our modest budgets mean we look for ways of working with other artists and institutions.
11. What do you look for or expect from your relationship with promoters and curators? What advantages and difficulties have you found with these relationships?
EyM: Dialogue. So far we’ve been very lucky with the curators and programmers we’ve worked with.
12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
EyM: The Madrid scene is pretty compact and the art spaces are usually well integrated in the urban fabric. This makes it easy to communicate between galleries, set up festivals and shared competitions, and make them open to the general public.
Artists in Madrid are always creating their own networks, they don’t work in isolation, they look for things amongst themselves, they strike up debates, set up common places and shared experiences and join together to create a single force not only through empathy, but also through contrast.
Espada y Monleón
María Fernández Martín
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in: Madrid
Carlos Monleón Gendall
Vive y trabaja entre/Lives and works between: Madrid y Londres
Ciclo Formativo de Grado Medio de Cocina y Gastronomía, I.E.S. Hotel Escuela de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid.
Estudios en Bellas Artes, Universidad Complutense, Madrid.
M.A Design Interactions, Royal College of Art, London.
B.A (Hons) Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts, London.
Exposiciones colectivas/Group exhibitions
Campo Adentro, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.*
* Cat. Exp.
Monleón: Revolting Food: a Metonymic Cooking Show, Autoitalia Southeast, London.
Monleón como parte de NDS (New Display Strategies), AutoitaliaLive, Autoitalia Southeast, London.
Fantasmagoría in Two, LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial, Gijón.
Gastronomía es Territorio, programa de Residencias Campo Adentro, Valle de Polaciones, Cantabria.
Harmonía, una Ópera Comestible en Tres Tripotajes, Picnic Sessions, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, CA2M, Móstoles, Madrid.
Ragout, Vanitas, Fast Gallery Nº6, Feria de Arte Just Madrid, Madrid.
Guest Chefs, Restaurante Hackney Pearl, Londres
Conservas Fourierianas, Campo Adentro, Arte Agricultura y Medio Rural, Conferencia Internacional en Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, MNCARS, Madrid.
La Milagrosa, Cava y Croquenbouche, Sala de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid.
La ruina tras el Ágape, Picnic Sessions, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, CA2M, Móstoles, Madrid.
Actividades académicas/Academic related activities
Harmonía, un grupo de trabajo, Extensión Universitaria, Facultad de Bellas Artes de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid.