As an artist led gallery, Unit London is dedicated to supporting its artists and providing a focussed space in which they can express their ideas. The Platform exhibition series engages with topical social, political and cultural issues, inviting artists to explore the concepts that motivate their work. To align with the core social principles of the programme, 10% of all sales proceeds are donated to a charity or non-profit of the artist’s choosing. Javier Ruiz Pérez's nominated charity is Spanish Association for Prader-Willi Syndrome (AESPW).
To mark the opening of this Platform exhibition, we decided to delve into the intricacies of Pérez's artistic practice by asking him a few questions.
What themes are you trying to transmit through your work?
JRP: My work revolves around human relationships and I try to transfer my characters to a completely empty environment where there is no context, I simply leave them in a place where they can express themselves in the way they want. I try to get them to expand, so that they can be human beings without any type of complex, without any bias and without anything that makes them walk along a path that they do not want to travel or that they do not agree with. I take care of not only putting those characters in that context, but also showing them to a viewer who may have a certain dialogue with them, a certain capacity for interpretation and that in the end an internal debate is generated between what is happening to the character and what the viewer wants to see. The conversation that may arise between them seems very interesting to me.
What is your approach to creating a new piece?
JRP: I start doing small studies, in a notebook that I always carry with me. Small sketches from images that I come across, because I spend my life taking screenshots on Instagram or photographs that I am seeing on the street, or in a movie. And I make small sketches of ideas that come to me by mentally mixing those images that I find.
Once I have more or less clear ideas I take everything to Photoshop and really mix those screenshots and generate new images from it. The final step is to take it to a canvas. I always paint in oil on canvas and well, it's funny because my way of painting is the opposite of what most people use. Because when using the oil medium, the artists tend to dilute it with oil, turpentine, ... What I do is totally the opposite, I use oil pigments so that that pigment becomes more variegated and gives the painting a lot more body and the brushstrokes are much more visible.
Se volvió a hacer de noche mientras dormíamos, 2021, Oil on canvas, 40 x 55 cm
What is the meaning behind the bed of flowers?
JRP: Flowers have a place here for a number of reasons. There is a visual and aesthetic part, a personal part (my mother is always surrounded by flowers) but we are also talking about a controversial topic and I think that when you show certain topics in a pleasant way, it is easier to talk about them.
There are elements that are assumed to be feminine, but they don't have to be.
JRP: Indeed, in fact, the flowers are very like that. People always see flowers as something very feminine and very soft. I also use it to my advantage, but it doesn't have to be that. This type of flowers, with this for example or these so large (pointing to the canvas), it seems to me that it has a strong presence and they do not seem at all delicate in fact.