María Castelló Solbes

Artist selected by Pardo, Tania at 2010
More artist content updated at 2016

My work centres on our emotional relationships with the physical environment around us, whether domestic (private) or urban (public).

I use photography to create images, rather than portraying or documenting a reality. My aim is to prepare images within a specific discourse, with a reading that goes beyond personal interpretations or subjective perspectives.


1. What made you choose art as a profession?
I was one of those girls that are always drawing. So I made up my mind at a very early age that I wanted to study Fine Art. Not surprisingly, when I started to study art, I discovered that the image I’d had in my head bore no resemblance to what it was like in reality. But I’m still at it.

2. How would you define your work?
I work almost exclusively with photography – a kind of photography that doesn’t aim to offer a personal vision of a particular subject or reality. I see photography as another tool for creating images. Reality is simply the starting point for telling a story or setting out a discourse – basically, for transmitting an idea. I don’t set out to interpret it through my own vision, because I think that a personal vision doesn’t justify a piece of art work and can never be the goal.

3. What subjects are you interested in?
My work centres on our relationships with the physical environment around us and our emotional relationships with it. I can also see, especially in recent work, a focus on more personal environments, adventures close to hand and everyday life.

4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
When I’m working on a project, I’d say I start with an initial urge to say something, followed by a major documentation phase and finally the graphical work to give it shape. Obviously these work phases are not always that clearly cut, but I think this is more or less how I work.

5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
My interest in real-life referents lies not in interpreting them, but as images to which I give a meaning in a given context. However, I do live in the real world and I think my work is related to how I experience the world. In this sense, I think art is only meaningful in relation to the real world, if that’s the kind of reality we’re talking about. This can clearly be shaped in many different ways, including all those that don’t use real-life referents.

6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
Art is an experience for getting spectators involved with what they’re looking at. In reality, whether we’re talking about literature, film, plastic arts or any other artistic manifestation, the question for me is always ‘what are they telling me and how are they telling me it?’ In short, I think what’s really important is how artists position themselves with respect to what they’re representing.

7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I’d like my work to spark people’s curiosity and get them to ask themselves what they’re being told and how. Ideally I’d like to aim at everyone and anyone, but unfortunately experience has taught me that your fellow artists are the only ones you can really share it with. So realistically, I have to say that I aim at people with some background in art, even though this might not be my original intention.

8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
I graduated in Fine Art and studied Art History for two and a half years. I also did some work experience in photography for a year with two commercial photographers. What I value most from my time at the Department of Fine Art in Madrid is the contact with fellow students, and from my time at the Humboldt University in Berlin, the idea of a very free education where you have plenty of opportunities to shape your studies in accordance with your interests and which therefore requires students to take responsibilities. Finally, from my time doing work experience, I value the technical training, especially the ability to offer practical solutions to specific situations.

9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
I’m currently in a situation where I have to combine my art projects with other work in order to survive, which slows production down and means I can’t work as much as I’d like. The only way to work 100% on a project is if you’ve got some kind of grant. As a result, the future is looking somewhat uncertain.

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?
The main impact of not being able to make a living from my work is not having enough time for producing art. It also means I tend to work more on projects, so that I’m working on an existing, well-thought-out base. I don’t have time for other kinds of more intuitive or casual work which at other times has worked well.

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?
I hope promoters and curators have the ability and are keen to get actively involved in projects. In practice, this doesn’t happen that often; I don’t know if this is due to a lack of interest or a question of priorities. It’s strange when someone becomes connected to your work – work you’re intensely involved in – without the slightest interest or even sometimes without any criteria. This can lead to a very painful relationship. Obviously it’s not all bad and when they’re committed and interested, there can be a very enriching relationship. This interest doesn’t have to be encouraging: sometimes well-thought-out questioning can do much more for your work than a pat on the back.

12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
I can only compare it with my experience in Berlin. I’m currently living in Barcelona, though, and haven’t really had enough contact with the arts scene there to get much of an idea. In Berlin there were lots of possibilities and alternative spaces and associations, etc. However, I think that to get into the, shall we say, most relevant arts circles, you had to have gone to university. Art universities in Germany are highly professionalised and in the up-and-coming art environment it’s almost vital to have attended the classes of one of their famous lecturers.


In this sense I think the Madrid scene is more accessible, through contests, although also very limited to these kinds of contexts. Although I do know of a couple of cases, I think we ought to do more to try and promote other kinds of environments managed outside institutions, either by artists or curators, and what’s really interesting is doing it together.

Curriculum vitae

María Castelló Solbes
Madrid, 1979.
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in Madrid.

Formación Académica/Education
Estudios en Historia del Arte, Humboldt Universität, Berlin.


Estancias InJuve para la Creación Joven 2006, Mollina, Málaga.


Estancias InJuve para la Creación Joven 2005, Mollina, Málaga.


Licenciada en Bellas Artes, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


Exposiciones Individuales/Solo Exhibitions
Viaje de ida y vuelta, Centro de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid.


Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección)/Selected Group Exhibitions
Hacer en lo cotidiano, Sala de Exposiciones del Centro de Arte Joven, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid.

Teatro de Anatomía, RMS El Espacio, Madrid.

Puede que nadie vuelva a tener el mismo conocimiento, Halfhouse, Barcelona. En colaboración con Regina de Miguel.
ARCO 2010, Stand Premio ABC de Pintura y Fotografía, Madrid.


Short Time, Halfhouse, Barcelona.
De lugares inciertos/Von ungewissen Orten, Karl Hofer Gesellschaft Gallery, Berlin.
FotoGrafia, Festivale Internazionale di Roma, Palazzo delle Sposizioni, Roma.


Sesión Continua. Muestra colectiva de video, Otro Espacio, Mislata, Valencia.
Uno + Uno, Multitud, Doméstico 08, Madrid.


Into the woods tonight – 4. Teil, Project Room, Parrotta Contemporary Art, Berlin.
Into the woods tonight, Parrotta Contemporary Art, Stuttgart.
Dream Photography, Galería Cámara oscura, Madrid.
Arrebato, Galería Cámara oscura, Madrid.


Muestra de Arte, Sala Amadís, InJuve, Madrid.
Viaje de ida y vuelta, Sala de Exposiciones del Centro de Arte Joven, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid.
Madrid Procesos Redes, Sala de exposiciones del complejo El Águila, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid. En colaboración con Vanessa Losada.


Specific places!, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; International Trade Centre, Berlin.
Canal Abierto. Registros imposibles: el mal de archivo, XII Jornadas de la Imagen de la Comunidad de Madrid, Sala de exposiciones del Canal de Isabel II, Madrid. En colaboración con Vanessa Losada.


Descubrimientos'04, Festival PhotoEspaña, Madrid.


Becas y Premios/Awards and Grants
XI Premio ABC de Pintura y Fotografía, Madrid. (1er Accésit)


Madrid Procesos 09, Programa de residencia, Artistas Visuales Asociados de Madrid, AVAM, Madrid.
Karl Hofer Gesellschaft, Berlin. (Beca de Residencia/Residence Grant)


Beca de Creación Artística, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla Y León, MUSAC, León.


Madrid Procesos Redes, Artistas Visuales Asociados de Madrid, AVAM, Madrid. (Selección/Selected)
Certamen de Artes Plásticas Pancho Cossío, Modalidad de Fotografía, Santander. (1er Premio/1st Award)


"Into The Woods Tonigh"t, Stuttgart, Parrotta Contemporary Art, 2007, Cat. Exp.
De Gonzalo, Marta; Pérez Prieto, Publio, "Bonitas cicatrices", Muestra de Arte, Madrid, InJuve, Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales, 2006, pp 28-30., Cat. Exp.
Rubira, Sergio, "Viaje de ida y vuelta", Madrid, Centro de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid, 2006.
Certamen de artes plásticas Pancho Cossío, Santander, Dirección General de la Juventud, Gobierno de Cantabria, 2005, Cat. Exp.
Holle, Rauser,


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