Bran Solo (Abarán (Murcia), 1987). Painting workshop of Úrsula Company (1995) and Pepe Bermúdez (1998). Superior Technician in Analysis and Development of Computer Applications (2006). Higher Technician in Art and Design in Illustration by the School of Art of Murcia (2014). A macular lesion, formed by scars in the central area of the retina, distorts images in a way that he describes as “kaleidoscopic”, multiplying images with high contrast or luminosity with sharpness. In this way, he discovers that he cannot find with certainty the line that separates a white plane from a black one, he confuses volume with emptiness, positive with negative and, except in specific lighting circumstances, he perceives all objects multiplied by up to eight or ten copies. This condition, which forces the brain to interpret reality very subjectively, gives him a “unique vision”, which he maintains with humor.
He researches the relationship between science and art, which he finds inseparable, as well as being interested in the graphic study of other subjects such as masculinity, fear and human emotions, love and blindness.
PAC – You are based in Murcia. Would you have liked to change your location and do it from there?
Bran Solo –
I am very happy with my decision. In fact, it was not the first place I have worked from and I have been able to see that nowhere like at home.
I studied at the School of Art in Murcia, and being one of the first of the promotion, I chose Porto as the place to do my Erasmus, and start a new life. I filled the car with all my stuff and left the rental I was living in the city, with the intention of not returning, for the time being.
I stayed in Portugal for a while. The truth is that the European cultural environment is much more noticeable, something that in Spain we do not have so much. There were illustration fairs, fanzines, independent publishers, drawing and painting stores everywhere, mural art… Creativity was everywhere.
Then I moved to Madrid, in 2014. I was living in the heart of Malasaña and, although it’s not so international, the truth is that at that time there was a lot of art, drawing and creativity going on in that neighborhood. There were opportunities for work or collaboration if you showed up in person at the store or gallery of the day. In Madrid everything is a pop-up store. It doesn’t last, but you try.
Then I decided to continue the adventure in Barcelona. It’s the city I like the most. Every week there was some opening, some place where some event related to art and creative culture was held, and although there they like more the native and derivatives of realism, they were open to my proposals, even more than in the capital, and there was no lack of opportunities and sales.
However… I need the Mediterranean nearby, but the real one, the one with 45 degrees in summer, the dry and warm pine forest, the swifts, and to be close to family. So since 2016 I am in Murcia, now in a little house near the sea, and from here I can work and interact online, now that it is so accepted.
PAC – Do you think your trajectory would have been the same?
Bran Solo –
Thanks to the fact that before studying art I worked as a computer scientist and systems analyst, I have the advantage of having been able to set up and maintain my online “empire”. I work with galleries in Madrid, Barcelona, Marseille, and I participate in fairs in Miami and anywhere else in the world where it is convenient. I don’t think that, in my case, my career would have been any different.
Perhaps it would have been more social, and from there my style could have been influenced, or framed in some common movement, and possibly some local opportunity would have arisen. All these are things that I prefer to sacrifice in favor of living quietly, in an affordable place, with good weather all year round, and to be relaxed painting when I want to.
PAC – What drives you to dedicate yourself to artistic practice?
Bran Solo – I think it’s therapy. When I was a kid I was always drawing, and it was my way of daydreaming. Now I use it as something similar to that. It’s my emotions, my thoughts, some memories, and maybe some desire. I need to paint, not every day, but only when I need it. That’s why I don’t usually do commissions, usually because I can’t. I paint what I live. I paint what I live.
PAC – What were you looking forward to?
Bran Solo – In my biography I write “I paint in order to never die”. It is a summary of the delirium of pharaonic grandeur that has always haunted me. I do not want to disappear without a trace, because I believe that I have understood some things in life that can be useful to alleviate the suffering of some people, and that my message has to get through.
PAC – Did you find it?
Bran Solo – I will never know that. You will know it when I am gone.
PAC – What do you think can be improved in the Art System?
Bran Solo –
I am a very critical person about all of this. I think the system is broken. To begin with, I “don’t believe in galleries”. Not the ones now. Maybe in another time galleries really worked as a dealer, looking for clients and generating opportunities, taking the artist to fairs, or arranging appointments with buyers.
Today, galleries are just stores. They get 50% for doing nothing, just hanging your work on the wall and waiting for someone to walk by. I already do that in my social networks. A lot of things would have to change there.
To continue, we artists don’t realize that many times the business of art is in taking money from the artist himself. Material stores, advertising agencies, magazines, galleries… they all live off the artist. It is the artist who has the power to reach people, and who has the right to profit from it. We should ignore all those people and be more autonomous.
And, to finish, I’m going to rant a little bit about museums as well.
Both the contemporary art galleries, with their junk piled up with socio-political statements of the first year of ESO, and the big museums with their boring avant-garde collections, of the avant-garde of a hundred years ago, forget that art is alive, evolves, always speaks of the present time, and is in all the living artists who work and live from it.
We artists will have to play dead so that they look at us, and that our paintings are worth something.
We have to educate people. Teach them that they do understand art, just as they understand the music they like. Art has to be understandable, affordable, beautiful, emotional, and decorative. Not just the latter.
PAC – What should we contribute to and eliminate from the System?
Bran Solo –If it were up to me, and I am working on it, I would reset the system as if it were the Matrix, and I would wake people up to teach them that art is not what four speculators value. I would explain to other artists that more expensive is not better, that they should not pay to be seen, that they do not need anyone to reach people. I would teach galleries that you can’t live off the work of others, and that you have to work yourself to make money. And I would empty the big museums to fill them with new art, made by living artists, with even more living works.
PAC – Professional associations, what do you think?
Bran Solo –
Does it really do any good? I don’t know. In Spain I am paying almost 300€ a month just to have the right to work, and soon the fees will be proportional in tranches, and possibly I will pay about 1.200€ a month, even if I don’t sell a single painting. In addition, I have to pay 36% of what I bill in taxes every quarter.
We have no rights like other workers, nor are we equally considered. But the fact is that those who make the laws know nothing about the work of an artist, what it is really like to work in art, for commissions, or for long projects.
If we join forces, can we get them to listen to us? What happened to that artist’s manifesto?
Obviously if we do it right, we can achieve what we set out to do, but first we have to solve an internal problem, and that is that we artists are largely antisocial and exaggeratedly sensitive, susceptible or ultra-emotional divas, and any project we want to undertake together will always be chaotic and unequal.
PAC – Define yourself using hashtags or tags.
Bran Solo – #Outsider, #Castaway, #RatherGoodThanRich, #Blue, #Mediterranean, #NeoMudéjar, #MurciaParísLondres
PAC – What are the themes of your artwork?
Bran Solo –
The protagonists are usually characters from my environment and models that I usually photograph in my studio, predominating in all of them, almost always men, a melancholic, pessimistic and lonely character, being this the main theme that I deal with in most of my works.
I am in love with the sea, my colors are those of the Mediterranean.
I usually replace the shape and color of the human body with a blue color like the sea, on backgrounds that remind me of the fine sand of some of the Mediterranean places that inspire me the most.
I work a lot on the concept of “contemporary sadness”, how progress makes us feel more lonely and lost.
In addition, many of my works deal with masculinity as an element that generates frustration and expectation, and the emotions that surround this circumstance, such as love, pain, loneliness and melancholy.
PAC – Any pending projects that you would like to carry out?
Bran Solo –I am, for several years now, preparing a book with Daniel El Dibujo in which we show the work of several artists in the context of the new masculinities, a graphic study of how machismo also affects men. We have had a break with the pandemic, but we are ready to bring it to light.
PAC – A wish.
Bran Solo –People should forget about being rich, and should want to be good.