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Ángel Orensanz: ’The only truth is certainly the art’

Ángel Orensanz in front of his exhibition at the gardens of the Historic Building of the University.

Ángel Orensanz in front of his exhibition at the gardens of the Historic Building of the University.

Ángel Orensanz.

Ángel Orensanz.



The Spanish artist based in New York Ángel Orensanz will exhibit his work “Time, space and innovation” in the Paranymph Hall and Gardens of the UB’s Historic Building during the months of June, July and September, with the support of the Office of the Vice-Rector for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Orensanz has caught the world’s attention and has been widely acclaimed by the critics. In 1992 he promoted in New York the foundation that bears his name and that has become an emblematic meeting point and an exhibition place for the visual arts in this North American city. His works of art can be seen in museums, public spaces and natural sites in different cities in the world such as London, Tokyo or Moscow. Some of his works can be found in several public areas in Barcelona, for example, the large mural relief at the Zona Universitària metro station or the sculpture Speed Bird,at the entrance of the Barcelona International Airport. However, his exhibition at the UB will be his first solo exhibition in Barcelona, where he trained to become a sculptor. In one of his visits to prepare the exhibition, we had a conversation with him. Orensanz suggested that instead of an interview we published some of his reflections relating them to the three concepts of his exhibition at the University: time, space and innovation. And that is what we have done.


“What happens is that we all live so little that, for example, Gaudí’s work is half done. And nothing is known about our own fate. Besides, an accident may happen either to an extremely famous artist or to someone who lives under a bridge. Camus is an example of it. Who would have thought that having a train ticket, he would have to take a car and die? And there are many other cases. What matters is the work itself because nobody can retouch it. Nobody can.”
“When everything sinks is when the artist disappears, because the artist has the keys to how he has shaped his work: light, space, environment… However, the artist cannot always be there. He has to die, disappear. And then his work remains. And his work certainly resembles the artist. If you look at many works by Goya, he self-portraits himself. And his portraits have his short stature. When the artist has disappeared there has been a lack of protection. He hasn’t been sold properly, he hasn’t been appreciated as he deserves; or he has been given too much importance. It’s a disaster. Because, how could Munch imagine how much his picture would cost? Greed and avarice have increased the value of many works. I wouldn’t like to feed others, because maybe they don’t even deserve it. Maybe they are wealthy people with no merit or recognition. I think that the artist has never been related to this issue of selling the picture. It means selling himself little by little, and also causing ambition, avarice; an imbalance. And it is always a problem, because the work may be stolen, may be burnt, nobody wants to insure it. And this coincides with the fact that there are people who don’t know what to do in order to have something secure and they think that art is secure and they pay a lot of money for it. But an artist never paints a picture with this aim in mind, never ever.”
“I knew the building that will hold my exhibition. I have many works in Barcelona; I lived here for a while. To me Barcelona has meant a kind of expansion, a stage. Many of my works came from Aragón, already made, and they were placed in Barcelona. The whole sculptural environment at Sarrià station had been made in Aragón.”
“What happens in art is global. The Renaissance was spread all over the world: the columns, the capitals… And it is really beautiful that so much value can be expressed in art. The mystery behind all art is not exactly known. For example, the cinema of Fellini, Visconti, has a wonderful plot… I saw Spielberg shooting at my foundation in New York not long ago. And then I found that reality was non-existent, it was boring. The author, called artist, stresses these things in the environment. It’s not so much about arranging it but sublimating it.”
“But the truth is that art has not been appreciated as it should have been. I perceive that people don’t talk much about art. In other words, politically at the present time art isn’t used for anything. Art itself is significant. That’s what it has as a message, as a language, as a universal medium of communication.”
“The word innovation is in opposition to everyday life, to what is standard. It yearns for things that are not easily achieved. Innovation will persist almost eternally.”
“I think that those who look for big things find big things. And then this big path makes you plunge even more, I don’t know whether either into the void, into the good luck, or into the mystery of speaking to the greatest. In the case of the foundation in New York, Vanity Fair has just stated that the best sequences that Spielberg has shot in Smash are the ones that were filmed at the Ángel Orensanz Foundation. And this is because everything looks similar and all the interiors are boring, but it turns out that here, inside, there was the Taj Mahal; it was perfectly depicted. There were dances, there was ballet… And this turns it not into the everyday life but into an excellent expression. And this can be seen, it is highlighted. Vanity Fair and everybody would highlight it. At the foundation, I had the feeling, during the filming process, of when the work surpasses time, the value of things, what is established, correct, flattering. After having seen it —with the cameras, the lights, the wonder of the piece of art—, the street seems a vulgarity.”
“It is highly difficult to make works of art. I have always said that: ‘When you send a photo, for example, you shouldn’t send a photo that anyone can take’. We see Machado’s poetry and we believe that it seems to emerge fluently, spontaneously and wonderfully. However, a work of art requires a lot of work. People are extremely bored and have a lot of patience. Instead, in the life of art very optimistic and changing things appear. It doesn’t accept fraud, because it doesn’t have it, it doesn’t need it, because I say that its integrity is the truth. The only truth is certainly the art.”
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