Through his work, Pedro Luis Cembranos questions the role of the individual and their (des)integration within a group. He explores patterns where concepts like public sphere and intimate space make up individual and collective identity, and analyses identification and legitimisation strategies within social and family orders and structures them in galleries of memory and time.
His work, often created in series, usually takes the form of installations, sets or editions.
1. What made you choose art as a profession?
I’ve never actually made this choice. Things just happen. In any case, I don’t know whether I could talk about my situation as a profession or a way of being and doing things.
2. How would you define your work?
A mental space – the same space I use when I look or eat.
3. What subjects are you interested in?
I think art can encompass any subject in different ways at any given time. Just like anyone else, I’m interested in lots of things: the anomalies of the system, the ephemeral nature of everything, the banality of categories, the pathetic nature of individuals. Social life is full of patterns and codes that show that reality, or the social sphere, is simply another form of construction at all levels. Perhaps my work explores the strange, pathetic nature of these patterns that underlie everyday, familiar life.
4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
I use any and every resource I can get my hands on. I use them in very different ways in each case, because they clearly affect the result, but I always choose them in keeping with the final goal. I almost always work with series, creating sets, superposing layers on concepts I allude to almost topographically.
5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
Like I said, I work with concepts that explore the everyday social sphere. Certain economic, political or cultural issues play a major role in some of my work. Even if you want, you can’t escape from time or space – you can’t erase your memory.
6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
I think art is a way of looking at or living life, something that’s intimately linked to life. I’d like to think that art helps us think about issues that don’t appear in figures and statistics, questions that tell us more about who we are than many population studies. It’s a way of talking about elusive details or discontinuities in the system. To some extent, art makes us more critical and even if we still can’t understand the small print it helps us not to forget it’s there.
7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I have no idea what audience I’m aiming at. The only thing I can hope for is that people approach my work without too many prejudices and are open to double and triple readings, because most of the time, as with almost everything, things aren’t what they seem.
8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
I don’t have a typical education. I was never interested in studying fine art. When most people were finishing their education, I’d already been working in all kinds of jobs. This might have made me more sceptical towards things, including art itself. I was a bit of a difficult teenager. I’ve had a fairly unorthodox education at all levels, which has left its mark.
9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
I’m an employee. In one of the greatest existentialist dialogues in the history of film, Coronel Trautmann asks Rambo, who has just taken out an entire police patrol, how he plans to make a living in the future. “Day by day”, replies Rambo. In reality I don’t think I can complain too much. If you stop and ask someone on the street this question, the most likely reply would be “pretty fucked”.
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?
Economic considerations clearly have an effect, but when it comes to carrying out a project, they’re often far from the most decisive factor. When you lack or have to search for the means, you have to turn to other, possibly more interesting, resources. Although I usually work with everyday, easily attainable objects and media, issues such as the studio and mobility always have a bearing. Then there’s time; like most people, I have to find odd jobs to survive.
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 simply expect them to do their job well and if they’re also interested, then fantastic. I imagine they do what they’re supposed to, improving the production and development of artistic and cultural structures.
12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
I think we’re moving in the same way as always, lagging a bit behind, but bit by bit we’re catching up with the rest. I think there are enough structures and resources here: there are exhibition and production centres, galleries, people to work with, artists and a public. At first sight everything might appear to be in place.
Judging from what I see around me, I think artists are slowly organising themselves and carrying out projects from less institutionalised positions, further away from established, pseudo-official culture. They are eager to produce debates, which is key if things are to move and improve.
Some very talented people are travelling abroad very quickly and moving in international circles, which is fairly positive and might indicate that something is changing.
Pedro Luis Cembranos
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in: Madrid.
Exposiciones Individuales/Solo Exhibitions
Dingbats Fucktory, Espacio Contemporáneo Archivo de Toledo, ECAT, Toledo.
(IN)oportunidades, ALfaRa, Sala de Arte, Oviedo.
Luces, Galería José Rincón, Madrid.
Exposiciones Colectivas/Group Exhibitions
The Art Books Project, Galería Esquina, Madrid.
AFF, Brita Prinz Gallery, London.
La ropa sucia se lava en casa, Galeria Emma Thomas, São Paulo.
El mundo y el pantalón, Inéditos 08, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.
Bon à tirer 17/10, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid.
Triangel, Kloster Bentlage, Rheine, Deutschland.
Textual, Casa Duró, Mieres, Asturias; Centro Municipal de Arte y de Exposiciones, CMAE, Avilés, Asturias.
Generación 2006, Premios y Becas de Arte Caja Madrid, La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Museo Municipal de Bella Artes, Santander; Espai Cultural Obra Social Caja Madrid, Barcelona; Reales Atarazanas, Valencia; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, CAAC, Sevilla.
Circuitos 2004, Sala de Exposiciones del Centro de Arte Joven, Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid; Fundación Colegio del Rey, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid; Sala de exposiciones Universidad de León.
Generación 2003, Premios y Becas de Arte Caja Madrid, La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Espai Xavier Miserachs, Palau de la Virreina, Barcelona; Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes, Santander; Fundação D. Luís, Centro Cultural de Cascais, Portugal; Auditorio de Galicia, Santiago de Compostela; Casa de la Provincia, Diputación de Sevilla.
Premios y Becas/Awards and Grants
Ayudas a la Creación Contemporánea, Matadero Madrid. (Beca/Grant)
Premio Nacional de Grabado “María de Salamanca” 2010, Fundación Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, Marbella. (Premio/Award)
Ayudas Movilidad Internacional Creadores 2009, proyecto colectivo La ropa sucia se lava en casa, Matadero Madrid. (Beca/Grant)
Propuestas, XII Convocatoria de Ayuda a la Creación Visual, con Raúl Díaz Reyes, Fundación Arte y Derecho. (Beca/Grant)
Beca de Creación, Centro Português de Serigrafia, Lisboa. (Beca/Grant)
Gründung Druckwerkstatt Bentlage, Rheine, Deutschland. (Beca/Grant)
Generación 2006, Premios y Becas de Arte Caja Madrid. (Mención de Honor/Honourable Mention)
Beca Pilar Juncosa y Sotheby´s, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Palma de Mallorca. (Beca/Grant)
Generación 2003, Premios y Becas de Arte Caja Madrid. (Mención de Honor/Honourable Mention)
Certamen de Arte Gráfico para Jóvenes Creadores 2003, Calcografía Nacional. (1er Premio/1st Award)
Obra Museos y Colecciones/Works in Museums and Collections
Calcografía Nacional, Madrid.
Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid.
Museo Real Casa de la Moneda, Madrid.
Colección de Arte Caja Madrid.
Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Palma de Mallorca.
Fundación Provincial de Artes Plásticas Rafael Botí, Diputación de Córdoba.
Fundación Museo del Grabado Español Contemporáneo, Marbella.
Centro Português de Serigrafia, Lisboa.
Gründung Kloster Bentlage, Rheine, Deutschland.
Castro Flórez, Fernando, Iconos paródico-siniestros, Toledo, Espacio Contemporáneo Archivo de Toledo, ECAT, 2010, Cat. Exp.
Santos, Luz; Casares, Cecilia, El mundo y el pantalón, Inéditos 08, Madrid, Obra Social Caja Madrid, 2008, Cat. Exp.
Willich, Knut, Triangel ein Grafikprojekt, Rheine, Kloster Bentlage, 2007, Cat. Exp.
Tielve García, Natalia, Textual, Avilés, Centro Municipal de Arte y de Exposiciones, CMAE, 2007, Cat. Exp.
Martín Ruiz, L., Arte y artistas” El Punto de las Artes, VI/2006.
Alonso Molina, O., Tomando el pulso al porvenir, ABC Cultural, Madrid, II/2006.
Baeza, A., Artistas de nuestra época, El Mundo Metrópoli, Madrid, I/2006.
Marín Medina, José, Tecnología e imagen/Evocaciones temáticas. Circuitos 2004, Madrid, Comunidad de Madrid, 2004, Cat. Exp.
Hontoria, J., Diez promesas, El Cultural, El Mundo, Madrid, XII/2004.
García Yelo, M., Sin ser todos los que están, ABC Cultural, Madrid, I/2003.