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ART EXPERT Ignasi Monreal

- When you collaborate with big brands, how does it happen, do they somehow guide you or give you complete creative freedom?

- Normally, there’s a conversation going on in between, where we both come up with an initial idea and then, I develop it. Either they give me absolute freedom or come up with a very specific brief. In this case, Bvlgari had an idea, a starting point, which was the Barocco collection inspired by Italian Baroque, but then they gave me almost absolute freedom to develop this idea, as I wanted.

- Was it hard for you to create this collection?

- I had a lot of work. This project was basically the “baby of my quarantine”. I have spent 3 months working on it, I’ve been working full time everyday. We decided to do the animation, to be able to portray not the full collection, but a part of it. So, although it was fun, it was hard.

- So, what do you think, can fashion live without art?

- I guess so. In this case Bvlgary is not fashion, it is high jewelry. In terms of fashion - I think, it can. When you put the two together, fashion becomes…it has something more detailed, it has a storytelling. Well, you can buy simple clothes but if you’re looking for something that has a story and richness, that is where collaborations happened. Many people can make clothes, but when we talk about passion, it’s a higher form. Art is involved but not necessarily because they bring in an artist but because doing haute couture is an art for me itself. You can go to Zara, which is not fashion, but it’s not art either.

- Do you think that art can have some stagnation after the pandemic, or we can find the new genre afterwards?

⁃ I definitely think, we will find something new for sure. Art is always art. It’s something, that we have been doing since the cave times. It is just a way of the human expression. It doesn’t matter - the pandemic, the war, all those horrible things - we will always find ways to express ourselves. We have gone through many pandemics in the human history, and they have all reflected in art. I think that it’s a matter of adapting to new ways, which we are already doing.

How much has the pandemic affected you and your art?

Well, it had influenced - I got a lot of work. Especially at the beginning. People couldn’t shoot and film, so, all of a sudden, I got hundreds of the new projects, and Bvlgari was the biggest one out of them. I haven’t stopped working - even now I’m still overwhelmed. So, yeah, it has affected me. Pandemic gave me more time to work, because I always was at home, especially during lockdown.

- How do you come up with ideas for the interpretation of certain pictures? What inspires you?

- Again, it depends on the project that I am working on. The starting point, normally, is the client and his ideas to communicate with the audience. In this case, it was Italian Baroque. The key factor of Italian baroque, that I wanted to develop my idea around, was the theatrics of it. It’s not just about baroque, because it has so many different ways of expression, especially in Rome, where I live. It was more the drama, the extravaganza, the colors - more is more - of Italian baroque, that we decided to put into this piece.

- That’s interesting. How often do you visit exhibitions?

- Most of the exhibitions I visit are those of the artists who are not my friends. I try to see as many as possible. Obviously, this year has been more difficult to go out and see things, but I live in a city that’s a museum itself. Just by walking down the street is like visiting an exhibition. I love being here. Inspiration is literally everywhere. I live 2 minutes away from Villa Fornessina, which has Rafael frescos. So, if I get bored, I walk for a bit and I see a Rafael masterpiece.

- Due to the pandemic, we have a lot of online exhibitions and museums. They will, of course, find a new audience, but do you think it is correct in relation to art or is it better to visit museums physically?

- I don’t think it is one of the other. Nothing is correct or incorrect when it comes to art, because it is all-encompassing; it embraces everything. I think that certain pieces, like, for instance, sculpture, paintings or installations, to get the full experience you have to see in real life. For other pieces, online is a very natural platform. For instance, what we created for Bvlgari was an animation. Everything was created digitally. Therefore, the real place to see it is on the screen. I do a lot of digital painting and also physical but, for instance, I don’t like my digital paintings - I don’t like to print my digital works because the real place to see them is on a screen, where I made them. For the first time in the history of art painters can paint with light, that is pixels on the screen. Until now they could only use pigment. So many artists were obsessed with trying to capture light. We finally have such possibility and the natural medium to see such works is the gadget screen. This expanded the room for our creative ideas, and I think that’s great. Previously, digitalization was regarded as something bad. Eventually, I hope we will have a bit of an evolution into accepting screens as alternative spaces to see art.

- Who is your favourite Russian artist?

- The thing about Russian artists, Russian painters is that they are so good! I don’t know how they teach that in your incredible academies, but the technique of Russian artists hurts my body just by seeing what they do with paint. In my opinion, Valentin Serov is fantastic. He has an incredible technique. I love Leon Bakst for his working on opera and set design as well as costume design. There is more: Mikhail Vrubel. For me, Russia is one of the best countries in terms of painters, but also (obviously) Italy and Spain, for example Velazquez. My favourite.

- If we talk about digital fashion and digital art, we have a lot of virtual models right now. Do you think they are more useful in advertising projects than real models?

- I think they are different. Again, neither one, nor the other is better. It’s a new way - well, not that new anymore - a different, rather, way of communicating a product. You have more freedom in terms of creativity and fantasy. I can create anything I want, and my characters can also be wearing clothes and fashion. As long as you know that it’s not real, it’s not a problem. Sometimes it can create certain fake expectations, but from the perceptive of art, I think it’s fun, why not? There is room for everybody.

- In your opinion, can the digital fashion week replace the real fashion week?

- I don’t think it has replaced, because all the fashion shows in Paris and Milan still happened. It’s just that some brand decided to go that way. I don’t work in marketing, so can’t tell which one works better than the other in terms of sales but again, why not? It allows to explore new things. For Bvlgari, it was the first time they did anything like this, but it worked really nice. Brands can go back and forth from one to the other.

- Would it be interesting for you to work with a digital model?

- Yes, of course! I mean, every time I paint somebody - sometimes they are real people but sometimes they are completely made up, although they might look real to someone. The magic of the digital and creating something from scratch is that you can expand and create fantasies that are impossible to do in photography, film or in real life. Why not go as far as we can and explore?

- You talked about motivation. What is your motivation to work hard every day?

- This is changing for me right now. Until now I couldn’t paint unless I had a deadline, which was terrible. I am maturing a little bit, finally - I just turned 30, so my head is a bit more stable. So, now my motivation is seeing things finished, because as soon as a painting is done, it literally gives me a kick of endorphins. Though this feeling passes quickly. It is this addiction of managing to accomplish something and doing a good job that keeps me doing more and more. As soon as I am done with one work, I want am tempted to start another one right away, because I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something again.