Lita Cabellut, Mithuna, 2020, SmithDavidson Gallery.
Lita Cabellut Spanish background (1961, Sariñena, Aragón) is apparent from her work: the lust for life, the fire, the pain and struggle of the people she brings to life splash off the canvas. This artist, who lives in The Hague, is now known for her large-scale paintings in which she combines traditional fresco techniques and modern applications of oil paint, ink and other materials. You can recognize her impressive portraits - of vagrants, prostitutes, historical figures and fictional characters - by the crackled surface that she creates by hand by making cracks in the paint. A special technique that provides the surface with an extra layer and gives her paintings a raw edge.
Lita Cabellut is internationally known as one of the most appreciated Spanish artists of the moment. In 2020, she was nominated and elected Artist of the Year 2021, like artists such as Erwin Olaf, Marlène Dumas, Claudy Jongstra and Daan Roosegaarde who preceded her on that list. She is currently working on a solo exhibition at SmithDavidson Gallery scheduled for spring. The word to Lita Cabellut.
Lita Cabellut, foto: Eddy Wenting.
Klerkx: You have been through a lot in your life. You know the struggle. How do you experience your life as an artist and in private in these confusing times?
Cabellut: The natural state of being for an artist is that of a permanent lockdown. It is precisely the silence around you and a brake on the chaotic and hurried life that offers the artist a sea of opportunities and time to research the essential things, into what society is about. It is a great pity that this peace is linked to a disastrous epidemic with consequences for our physical and mental health, but also socially and economically.
Lita Cabellut, Escarcha, 2020, SmithDavidson Gallery.
Klerkx: In a previous interview you mentioned that you consider your first visit to the Museo del Prado to be your "birth". What do you mean by that? And why there?
Cabellut: That encounter with art was like an awakening for me, like the first encounter with real life. My heart and my brain were lucky to come to life the day I visited the Museo del Prado.
Klerkx: You mentioned that “There are no losers and there are no winners. We are all heroes.” What do you mean by that and how does that statement translate into the canvas?
Cabellut That is such a complex question; that is not easy to explain. A painter's canvas is in fact no more than a support - made of a specific material - of a representation that expresses the concept and philosophy of the artist. By concepts I mean my ethical values. I try to stay true to them because they bring me close to the essence of my existence, of my "being". I believe that life is difficult: it’s demanding to all of us. Besides, we set the bar very high with all our wishes and expectations. We create a society of winners and losers to hold on to something that we don't even understand - or don't want to accept - namely that being lucky or getting lucky is usually the result of hard work. Not everyone can or is able to do that. That is why, in my view, we are not losers or winners, but we are all heroes because of the countless obstacles that we have to overcome time and again in our lives.
Lita Cabellut, Ixia, 2020, SmithDavidson Gallery.
Klerkx: Are size and technique important elements in your painting? And if so, why?
Cabellut: No, they’re completely irrelevant. It is true that artists want to create their own signature style with every art form and want to be recognized on the basis of the way they express themselves. Take artists such as Pina Bausch, Mondriaan, Billie Holiday, Iris van Herpen or Louise Bourgeois, there are too many to mention. We don’t remember them for their names but for the "handwriting" with which they distinguish themselves.
Klerkx: You like to be inspired by famous Spanish and Dutch Masters. Where does that inspiration come from? And how do you relate to their work?
Cabellut: I think I can only get inspiration from what I love. I love the work of the Old Masters, those are my building blocks.
Lita Cabellut, Luisa, 2020, SmithDavidson Gallery.
Klerkx: When you were just 19 years old you came to the Netherlands to build a new life as an artist on your own. How did that go and what advice would you give an emerging young artist?
Cabellut: To this day I am grateful for the courage I had back then to pursue my dreams. I had no more than one suitcase. A small suitcase. That’s all I had. That is how I started the journey, without pretending to immediately find my place in the world or in art. My advice to young artists is always to start from these two forces: authenticity and the courage to fail. If you succeed in those two things, nothing is impossible.
Lita Cabellut, Miles Davis, 2020, SmithDavidson Gallery.
Klerkx: What is your biggest motivation in art?
Cabellut: My main motivation is to represent the human being in his / her entirety, including the dark, the light and the amiable grey.
Klerkx: Do you have a tip for art viewers?
Cabellut: Try to look beyond what you can see with the eye.
Lita Cabellut, Petalos de Ilusiones, 2020, SmithDavidson Gallery.