A conversation between Thierry Goldberg Gallery and Francisco G. Pinzón Samper
Thierry Goldberg: You use the term “range” to describe your work. What does “range” mean to you and how do you think it encapsulates your work?
Francisco G. Pinzón Samper: I remember hearing it for the first time on an Actor's Studio interview. Range is the extent between specified limits. Each time I create a new work I think of the last one I did and how I can get closer or further away from the logic that led me to create it. For me, a beautiful example of range is the work of Forrest Bess; each time I discover a new painting of his I’m surprised, every image is rendered differently. I work from imagination, copying images from my archives, real life, or basing the image on the materials I want to use. The limits are obviously my style and the fact that I can’t escape myself, or my taste.
TG: Your work borrows from design references such as Art Deco, 1960s hippie psychedelia, Gen Z fashion, and South American Catholic imagery. How do you see all of these in sync with each other in your work? And how do you find your source material?
FS: They remind me of my mother, they’re all very joyful aesthetics. Very kitsch. We need to decorate our life with whatever we can perceive as magic to not let ourselves be darkened by the rawness of reality. I spend most of my time searching and archiving images, on the Internet, in bookstores, or with pictures I take with my phone. Facebook also has some cool niche groups where you can find beautiful stuff.
TG: Many of your works are fantastical, existing in an explosion of color, and surrounded by ‘camp’ symbols like rainbows and flowers. Do you see your works as an exploration of high and low aesthetics and design? or in a psychological and trippy unconscious?
FS: I have been largely influenced by caricature and anime juxtaposed with modern art like Rothko, Beuys or Twombly. The balance between “high” and “low” images or materials, superficiality, and spirituality.
TG: Portraiture is a large part of your practice; who are your portraits of? The portraits seem just as much about the person as the objects and designs around them. Can you speak to how you create the combination?
FS: I’ve drawn my loved ones, I’ve copied mangas, fashion portraits, and paintings. There’s a series of portraits of Helene Stanley that I like a lot. The interest comes first through colors and forms. When I draw my friends I go through their closet first and pick their wardrobe, then the chair or the sheets where they’re going to rest and pose for the picture. So when I’m home and there is no one to draw I just go through my archives and attack whatever portrait pleases me at the moment. I try to go for an androgynous look and feel as I am just like that in my day-to-day life.
TG: Your works are materially unconventional for drawings. Though they are drawn with colored pencils, they set themselves apart by often being on cardboard. How did you arrive at using cardboard as the literal base of your practice?
FS: I began drawing on cereal boxes – they were very different from whatever I could find at any art store. The layers of plastic and cardboard create a very strange pillowy/velvety material that makes it rougher than normal cardboard and the hues of the support are way darker. The coloured pencils don’t overshadow the support but cohabit and make the whole image shine under the same ‘light.’ The same atmosphere as well as desaturating colours as the cardboard was greyish or brownish. I’m figuring out how to get it on bigger surfaces, maybe the cardboard in which fridges are shipped or furniture or something like that. I became so addicted that I went to the supermarket only to see all the kinds of cardboard there. I sometimes bought the food only for the box! (I never threw the food away!)
TG: Is it its physical materiality that works well for you? Or is it its history as an object?
FS: The history of the object is as important as creating for me. It comes as a primordial necessity just as eating does. I draw in the morning before breakfast, it’s my meditation, my ritual.
TG: Do you think of using and repurposing cardboard as a means of recycling? or a new form of ecoart?
FS: Recycling is very important, it’s chance that I fell in love with drawing on trash.