Artist Feature # 8 – Javier Casanueva

ART-IS-IN by Chriselda Barretto

About Javier Casanueva

Javier Casanueva was born in Avila the 17th April of 1995. He graduated in Fine Arts at Salamanca´s University. That degree allowed him to study the Painting Master of the Basque Country University, Bilbao and later to continue studying his PHD.

His first exhibition was in Avila, at the Jose Hierro´s exhibition hall, in the Episcopio, when Javier was 21. Commemorating that exhibition the book “Shapeless” was published. In that book, Javier collaborated with the poet José María Muñoz Quirós, which lead to a close friendship. They have since collaborated on many other occasions in the magazine called “El Cobaya” and in other publications, like the “2017 Poetic Round of Ávila”.

Since the first exhibition, Javier Casanueva has done three more solo exhibitions in different cities, like Vitoria and Pontevedra, and has participated in some collective shows, like the Painting Biennial of Ourense or “Caminos y duendes” – an exhibition where other participants included Jesús Mari Lazkano, Joseba Eskubi and Genoveva Linaza, to name a few.

Recently, Javier has worked as an Invited Artist at the Bodin KDA Skole, Bodo, Norway; where he taught a Creative Painting Workshop and made a benefit auction with his painting to assist the center with their humanitarian work.

Beltza 195x162cm

Hi Javier, could you tell our readers a little bit about who you are?

Well, I am Javier Casanueva. I was born in Ávila, a small city close to Madrid, Spain. Since I was a child I have been always interested in drawing, painting and anything I could do with my hands; so I studied the Art Degree at Salamanca´s University.

Currently I live in Bilbao, where I´m doing my PHD studies that I combine with my exhibitions and art production.

Colorida art gallery

Tell us about your art style or process.

I started painting landscapes, so there´s where everything started. If you look at my first series, Shapeless and BrokenShapes, you will find abstractions that are almost landscapes. After that I started to go deeper in meta-painting, I mean, gestures, textures and composition, so I took some distance with the nature. Now I am more into pure abstraction, close to minimalism.

About the process, I paint in an impulsive way. I usually start and finish pictures without pauses, just observing the changes that appear in the surface of the canvas and working on them. Then I reach a point when I feel is finished.

Shapeless 1. 100×80, oil on canvas

You have collaborated with the poet José María Muñoz Quirós for the book “Shapeless”. Could you share this experience with us?

José María was my teacher when I was 14. He is an important poet here in Spain and I have always admired him. When I was preparing my first exhibition, I invited him to my studio, and we decided to make a book with his poems and my pictures. The experience was great because we shared most of the process and pieces, fitting and creating new things.

It was so good that for my second exhibition at Ávila, “La Pompa Negra” (The black bubble), we decided to make another book, “black and white”, where you can find one of my texts talking about painting, pictures, drawings and of course José´s poems.

Quiá, 50x70cm, Oil on canvas

We have also collaborated in different art magazines and we are preparing a big project for the 100 years from Miguel Delibes birth. Collaborating with him is always great, I learn a lot and have fun also.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I understand inspiration like a part of the work. I remember a phrase from Pablo Picasso, who said: “Inspiration comes, but it must catch you working”. My inspiration comes from the own process of painting.

Shapeless 08, 100x100cm, Oil on canvas

Tell us about other artists/role-models or books that played a key role on your artistic journey.

I have a lot of reference artists, from the great artist like Rothko to teachers I had at the University, like Joseba Eskubi. One artist who changed my way of seeing art and image was José Ramón Amondarain. Blinky Palermo is a great artist to look at too.

Talking about books and theory; Antonio Machado and his writings about intra-time are a pillar of my thinking. Gilles Deleuze has also great books about painting. Ortega y Gasset has an essay talking about Diego Velázquez that has also impacted me. There is a lot of great books I have read for my PHD, I couldn’t choose just a few of them.

cubes. 100x450cm mixed media on canvas

Javier, you have worked as an invited Artist at the Bodin KDA Skole, Bodo – Norway, teaching a Creative Painting Workshop? Could you tell us something about this?

Yes. This was something amazing, definitely one of my best experiences. All started when I went to Norway with my family to visit a friend who lives there. On that trip I visited the Bodin KDA Skole and the quality of Norwegian education surprised me, so I started to talk with the school to plan the workshop. I based the classes on the creative process of the students and we made a little exhibition with the works at the school. In addition, I made a painting for the school in order to do a benefit auction. I hope to go back again soon, but my PHD also takes up a lot of my time.

Sandpapers, 10x15cm, Mixed media on sandpaper

How did you learn/acquire your technique?

I started painting and drawing classes when I was five or six years old in a small academy. When I was 11, I started to go to the Ávila´s Autonomic Art School, where my three teachers taught me a lot. Later with the Art Degree and with a lot of practice I learnt the rest.

How has art impacted your life?

Art changes any life. I am thinking about my series, my concepts and looking for more and more, all day . I think that art gives you a different point of view and it is a job totally different to any other. I can’t explain it, but other artists will tell you the same.

Shipshapes 002, Mixed media on canvas, 225x150cm

Tell us a bit about your last work.

My last finished work is Beltza. Well, I want to continue with it, but trough sculpture. Beltza means black in Basque. I was looking for the painting that is not image at all. The purest abstraction trying to find a way to reconnect with the primitivism of the human being, investigating about painting as a human fact.

Beltza, 30x30cm, Óleo sobre lienzo

What is your current WIP?

As I said, I am working with José María Muñoz Quirós for the 100 years from Delibes birth. I´m going back to landscape through the humanism and intimism of the author. We are doing a reflection about Delibes work using painting, drawing and poems. You will see more soon, at this moment I only can say that it will be a book and two exhibitions, but we are talking with the promoters and still working on it.

Exposición Galería Musart, Pontevedra

What does the future look like for you and your art?

My closer personal project is the thesis. I want to finish my PHD because I love to teach and I would like to be a University Teacher in the future. For my art, I am preparing two exhibitions for the Delibes projects and I am also investigating with sculpture and installation. It is difficult to imagine a far future because I work on it daily and changes are very progressive.

BrokenShapes 9, 100x81cm, Oil on canvas

Any words of advice to aspiring artists?

My first advice is to be patient. Art is something really complex and needs lot of time to develop the skills and the knowledge that it requires. But being patient also means to be a hard worker; you need to be focused and accept critique.

My second advice is to enjoy. Art is a marvelous world, don’t miss the process looking at the goal.

BrokenShapes 2, 100x81cm, Oil on canvas

Your art is amazing! Which project has been the most difficult or satisfying?

Beltza. It was hard to find a balance between esthetic and using black with no mixture, but it was also the most satisfying.

Would you like to share any more information with our readers?

Just tell them to keep an eye on this year 2020. Great things are coming on the projects.

Fragmented paintings, 50x70cm, Mixed media on paper

How can our readers contact you or find your art?

They can see my finished projects at my website:

If they prefer to see my daily work, they can follow me on Instagram: @javiercasanuevaartist

And if they have any questions or are interested in my art, they can find me at:

Also, if they like a work on my website and it´s sold, or is too big or too small…I take orders too, so I can make something similar for them.

Javier Casanueva

An Artist Feature by Chriselda Barretto

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