Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am Javier Triviño Murillo, visual artist and designer from the Basque Country (Spain). I graduated from the School of Design and Arts of Logroño in 2011 with a degree in visual communication and graphic design and moved to Amsterdam. In 2012, I made a trip to Berlin where I stayed until 2018 working as a freelance graphic designer and making art in my free time.
But was not until 2015, that I started publishing drawings and comics in specialized magazines in Ljubljana, Sweden and Croatia. Also started to get included in some group shows in Northern Spain and in 2017 I had my first solo show in Berlin.. in a bar (Das Gift), but I guess that this also counts.
Since 2016, I have been art director of an exhibition space in Spain (La Lonja 39/41) where I also carry out curatorial projects.
After living in Berlin for six years, I returned to La Rioja (Spain) six months ago in order to fully concentrate on my career as an artist. This may seem like an incongruity, as I moved from one of the art centres of the world to a more remote place with respect to the attention of the world of art. But establishing myself in a small town in Spain gave me the possibility of having my own studio as well as time to work.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
In 2015 I came to the realization that I could not ignore the necessity I felt regarding my life as an artist. I needed to take my art career more seriously, and since then I have aimed to live in order to make art. Due to personal reasons, it was never possible for me to study art as a youngster, even though I really wanted to, so I had to undertake a different path than going through an art school. Thus I did not get the same connections to the established art world and did not learn about the institutional dynamics of this world until later. I first studied architecture; afterwards, I did an MA in visual communications and graphic design. This is the reason why I didn’t do many exhibitions or residency programs earlier in my life. Rather, as an artist, I had the tendency to keep the works for myself. I never really dared to identify myself as an artist and act accordingly until recently.
What do you like most about working where you do?
The silence; I live in a very small town and there is no noise at all, nothing happens around here. I also can finish my work, leave the house and in one-minute distance, I will be walking through some vineyards. The sky is also amazing here(Casalarreina), every day is changing and the light is incredible. After living in Berlin, I appreciate this light so much. Also, the temperature is really agreeable comparing with the North of Europe.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My works are usually related to memory and dreams. I try to embody the familiar and the utterly unsettling through a synthesis of personal biography, found images, pre-civilization versus pop culture and the collective unconscious.
My media includes collage, assemblage, photography, drawings and paintings. I often combine images collected from a wide variety of sources, ranging from books and the Internet to my own drawings and photographs. I re-contextualize these sources, tearing them away from their origin.
Certain photographs recall people or places of personal significance, while others suggest earlier historical moments in ancient and popular culture.
I use common, uncomplicated materials, such as markers and waxes, worked on simple supports like papers, fabrics or cardboard. I work in small and large formats, normally creating a series of work. I apply color and marks in an aggressively expressionistic manner to bring otherwise disparate images into a single one.
I feel that in the last years my practice keeps changing all the time. It really depends on where I am living, the space I have to work and my mood. I also keep coming back to things I did in the past and I realize I started mixing all the things I did in the last 4 years.
What is your process like?
I don’t have any formula, so far, every time is being different. If I have the chance to work every day, without any interruptions, I may get into a flow and a certain methodology that will allow me to be very productive. But if I need to leave the studio for more than one day, it will take me some days to come back to that state. So far, I cannot work more than 4 hours hands on..maybe from 6 pm to 10 pm is my favourite time.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
Lately, I am especially interested in pre-civilization, pop culture, the collective unconscious, Psychoanalysis, dreams, iconography, archaeology, antiquities and ancient kingdoms like Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, China, and Etruria….I guess I am pretty much into Freud.
Also is interesting that due to growing up in Arrasate, Spain, an important backdrop of ETA, the Basque nationalist terrorist organization, I felt especially susceptible to graffiti and urban images. This urban aesthetics emerged as an intimidating but powerful presence in my childhood, so this link between politics and aesthetics still informs my art today.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I came to this small town, in order to set my studio in the garage of the summer house of my parents, this I guess is the strangest thing I have done so far.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I work as a freelance graphic designer. But in the area I am living at the moment, there is not so much work, so I may have to get a day job, I think is actually good to have a part-time job, a normal easy job (perhaps not graphic design) to be in contact with people and keep my feet on the ground.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I think I was always in the search of a mentor and I guess I had a few of them. At the moment is Susana Talayero, a well known artist from the Basque country, that I meet recently during her exhibition in Bilbao. The crazy thing is that she has a house in the same small town I am living at the moment and this was a great coincidence, as we now meet on the weekends and we speak about art. But I have to say that I am an intensive listener and I like to ask questions, so I try to learn a bit from everyone when this is possible.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
Mmm. Difficult. I don’t feel in the position at the moment… But I would say: choose a meaningful life over a happy life
What does it mean to you to have a “community?”
I think is really good to be part of an art community, but I don’t find it necessary. At the moment I am part of the artistic community that surrounds the exhibition space I work with and it’s influencing me of course, but not more than someone I could meet in the airport. As I mentioned before, I am influenced by everyone that comes next to me. Its great to have this community because they sometimes understand me better than my family or some friends and you meet really interesting people.
What is your studio like?
It’s a garage! At the moment it’s quite cold there, so I came upstairs and I currently work in the living room. That’s why my works at the moment are smaller than a couple of months ago.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I have a walk for an hour before I start working. I usually can´t work more than 3 or 4 hours.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Well, I am sure there are so many benefits. The first that comes to my mind, when applying to residencies or grants and being 33, if you don’t have an MFA and a proper list of exhibitions and residencies, I suspect that is quite difficult to get in.
My artistic education came from my Master in visual communication and graphic design. I had drawing, painting and art history lessons. My non-formal education happened during the 6 years I was living in Berlin. I visited around 2 o 3 exhibitions per month and I read a lot about art theory, biographies of Artists or just artist catalogues that I collected during this time.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
Totally connected with my answer just before… my biggest frustration until recently and for a long time, was not being able to study an MFA. I think it is good to acknowledge this, is a co-condition of who I am. And it will probably always be a part of me. And probably this loss, this mourning or anger, is also a part of my work as an artist now; it has formed me. So, it has set me back in relation to some knowledge about the world of art, how to do certain things, getting certain connections, networking etc. But at the same time, it is also who I am and I can use this uniqueness in my work. This loss. In the end, it is all about the work itself; of course degrees, grants etc. matter for recognition, money and so on. I mean – I hate this constant condition of lacking money. But in the end there is just the work I did, the work I will do – and hopefully, some people will appreciate it through time. I have a different background – sometimes this can give me the edge, be the thing that others lack. It sounds stupid maybe, but I guess one would say: Use your loss to your advantage (ok I choose this as my piece of advise)- to create something that means something, something that others would not be able to do because they did not have the same experience, because they are not me, but also something in which everyone can recognize their own loss, anger, happiness etc.
How would you define “success” in art?
Being able to have my own studio and work at least 4-5 hours per day, plus being able to exhibit my work a few times per year and get part of my income through this. Be part of some residency programmes all around the world and get a lot of friends on the way.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
My very recent decision to identify myself as an artist and to act accordingly.
Are you involved in any collaborative or self-organized projects?
As I mentioned before I am part of @lalonja_3941 an exhibition space in Logroño, La Rioja. La Lonja is configured as an autonomous, plural and open project integrated by professionals from different fields interested in art. We encourage the promotion and production of various artistic practices by offering an exhibition space to contemporary regional, national and international artists and like this facilitate the participation in contemporary art to the public from this region, which is quite a mission.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a series of collages, in fact, some of them are now on my website. I usually only have my latest works on my website, as I feel that is the best I did so far.
At the same time I am applying to several residencies and preparing some exhibitions for La Lonja.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks! was fun to answer your questions.