Briefly describe the work you do.
My most recent work reproduce old photographs, rescued from family albums, using household dust and lint from the people who appear in them.
The reason for choosing an element like dust is in its composition. Its particles come from both organic remains, such as skin or hair from the people who lived there, and inorganic remains from objects we have in our homes: carpet fibers, clothes and other textiles, street dirt swept under our shoes, environmental pollution, etc.
The dust is, in this manner, turned into an essential metaphor of destruction and the passing of time. A residue which stores within it the memory of all the events that have occurred since its creation and which is employed in the work to recreate the person in the same way that a phoenix bird is reborned, from their own material.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
Since forever, I have always like creation in a very broad sense: I really enjoy inventing things, drawing plans of houses or machines, sewing pieces of fabric, playing an instrument, composing music or even writing poetry. It was like a puzzle in which each piece had to fit in its place.
This way of understanding work is still present in my artwork. Each element of the composition must fit conceptually in the idea that is being developed, as nothing is the result of chance, in this way, it lets me make speeches with different readings.
In a personal level, as an artist, this way of working gives me great rigor and commitment to my work.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My way of working is very close to the traditional notion of “being in the studio.” My artworks need a long time of work. But what I do inside is as interesting as what I do out of it.
It all starts with me visiting my relatives to watch their photo album with them. I ask them to tell me the anecdotes, memories and stories behind each one until the memory is skin deep. It’s the part of the process I like the most, where I choose the picture that I will reproduce later.
In the following days, when the memory has faded and deposited on the ground like dust, I go back to their homes to collect it.
When I have both, I can start working on the portrait. My paintings have only two things, dust and transparent glue that holds it.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I think I could never have imagined myself going to the people’s houses to sweep their rooms. But it’s something I like to do when I do have the possibility. In the end, it has become a ritual.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I especially like to work at night. There are more peace and calm. But being an artist is a 24 hours per day job. It is not just producing pieces of art, you must read, research, plan and prepare projects, exhibitions, spread your work and make it visible to the people …
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Five years ago I was still forming in college and I think my work has changed completely. I´m specialized in sculpture, which is something I love, but you can get an idea of the change that supposes going from of stone carving or bronze casting to work with dust.
Still, I have never stopped doing other things (painting, drawing, photography, video …). I think I don´t choose the technique, the project itself tells me which tecnique is better.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
Marcel Duchamp was the first artist to use the dust as a material for a work of art, and later another artist as Vic Muniz returned to incorporate it into his pieces, but my influences come more from the literature. I love reading essays and they help me to go in depth the study of the themes of my works. I prefer writers as influences because they don´t give you pictures, they give you concepts.
But we are all influenced by our surroundings. The cultural and social context is crucial although we are not aware of how it affects our work.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
I like teaching and I have occasionally taught drawing, sculpture and printmaking. I have also worked as exhibition editor but I am currently devoted to art entirely.
Gil Gijón, born in Madrid in 1989, is a graduate in Fine Arts from the University of Seville, and has a Master degree in Artistic Production from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. He has supplemented his education with courses taught by artists as important as Antonio López and also he has participated in various artistic events.
His works and projects have been exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions, both international, in Bologna (Italy) and San Francisco, and national level, in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia, among others. He has won several awards and scholarships.
He is currently immersed in the creation of a multidisciplinary art collective, while he is developing his own works.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.