Jose Davila / Tension, compression and balance

A virtual visit to Jose Dávila’ studio in conversation with Maria Abramenko.

When and how have you decide to become an artist?

I became an artists as a little kid, when I realized that drawing was a way to pass through a difficult illness that almost took my life. I spent days and hours just drawing and drawing. However, I guess your question goes towards the professional decision to devote to art as a career. This happened around 1996, when studying architecture I started doing site-interventions with fellow students friends, in specific contexts of the city. I was fascinated by making art and I was taking lots of B&W photos which I developed on my own black room. I had to take a conscious decision – just after graduating – to quit the job I had as a student in an architecture studio to support myself, if I wanted to be an artists: I had to embrace the full time to only do that and to just jump into it with all I had. I became an artist when I decided to do so, becoming an artist is an act of will.

Who are the artists you are mainly inspired by?

Those that trigger your mind and your emotions, the ones who create their own universe and expand artistic language. Artists who because of them, Art never ceases to evolve. I have been inspired by many artists over the years, it would practically be impossible to name them all. But of course, some come to mind irrefutably. Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro, Lygia Clark, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta-Clark, Dan Graham… I’m an big art admirer, so I try to see as many as shows as possible, everywhere I go and I also get inspired by my peers. Artists such as Anri Sala, Pierre Huyge…whom I´ve seen very moving shows in the recent 2-3 years.

You are working with many different materials, which are your emblematic ones?

I think my work is often related to concrete blocks and tie-downs, but if you look carefully you would find also a strong presence of rocks, marble in its raw state and glass sheets. I’m very interested in the communication between industrialized materials and primitive ones. In China, Brazil, France, etc… you are able to find metal beams of same proportions and width, glass to the same thickness, wood cut in the same shape, this is a human convention. It’s a way to democratize materials and to make people who uses these materials for construction purposes communicate more easily. While marble or a stone, for example, are always unique, there are never two equal, just like a finger print or like a sea shell.

That diversity and uniqueness is utterly poetic. I believe the work starts already, whenever you are selecting a material to work with and the way you make materials communicate is a declaration of intentions. In any case I have emblematic materials of my work, just that I happened to choose them in that particular moment for that particular situation. But I would never choose a material for the purpose of it being recognizable as my work, that happens to be an organic result of the process.

How would you like the observer to feel next to your artwork?

I think good art motivates and awakens the mind, awakens the senses, awakens emotions. I would like the observer to not feel indifferent, to feel challenged. I think is fundamental the observer feels intrigued by the work. In many ways, my work evokes a degree of dangerousness and uncertainty. Something dangerous and destructive can be very sublime too, like a snow avalanche or a tornado, for example. This force given by this circumstance is pivotal in my work. Let’s remember is only an illusion, is a sensation, the work will not fall and break in your head but your senses are taught and tamed to make your body behave in a certain way upon certain danger assessment. I like the idea of people to feel a contradiction, between the attraction to see the work and get near to it but at the same time trying to go away and avoid it. In this moment all the senses in the body and the mind get a lift. It’s all about a sharp moment, no waste in the work, so the message is clear and sinks down well in the observer.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the present moment, I’m working on becoming a better dad, a better cook, a better husband and a better reader. I’m currently taking time to think and listen to the message in all of this. I’m working on not rushing or feeling the angst to work as I’m trying to keep a steady hand to embrace this moment as wisely as possible. Of course there are some ideas in my mind, and I’m sketching some of them in orrder to not loose them, but I haven’t been able to properly work. For myself, the studio is really important in the working practice, to change this habit would take a long time and as I haven’t been able to go to the studio, I have for the moment abandoned the idea to produce work. I’m focusing though, on developing a project next year for the MACBA in Buenos Aires, the CIS in Peccia, a show at Sean Kelly Gallery and putting together a book on the project I did for the PST Triennial in LA.

You may also like

Chiharu Shiota / Existence in the absence

Art&Culture | Interview
Woven fairy tales: Japanese born, Berlin based artist Chiharu Shiota in conversation with Maria Abramenko.

Diotis Thomas / The Dragon’s Gaze

Art&Culture | Interview
A spotlight on Greek artist Diotis Thomas, an artist who is constantly exploring new means of expression, with his output including wildlife, nature, science, anatomy and painting.

Banks Violette / On the edge

Art&Culture | Soundscapes
Legendary artist Banks Violette in conversation with Maria Abramenko on art, music and current projects along with a special playlist curated by him for our latest Soundscapes release.⁠