Pol Capdevila is a professor of Art Theory and Contemporary Art at the Humanities Department at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. His line of research is focused on Continental Aesthetics, Image and Temporality Theory in Contemporary Art. Throughout his career he has published a wide amount of academic articles and book chapters on the Aesthetic Experience in Contemporary Art. He has also participated in doctoral and postdoctoral stays in Potsdam (Germany) and Cambridge (United Kingdom).
Currently, he also teaches at the official Master's degree in Art and Design Research at the EINA school and at the Master's degree of Journalism, Communication and Humanities at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. In addition, he teaches Theory of Image in the degrees of Publicity and Public Relations as well.
His experience in the field of university teaching has led him to be the Director of the Quality Support and Teaching Innovation Unit (USQUID) of the Faculty of Humanities at the UPF, where he has coordinated several teaching innovation projects.
For Pol, art offers a different way to understand reality. He is attracted to those works of art that are able to offer a new aesthetic and emotional experience.
Pol, what is Art for you?
Art is one of the most accessible ways to deeply understand reality and communicate this knowledge to another human being. When on top of that a work of art adds a transforming social potential, no matter how small, then we can consider it outstanding work of art and its function as a work of art is complete.
What contemporary artistic styles do you follow? What attracts you to them?
My passion for art goes beyond styles. When it comes to Art, I am more attracted to the enigmatic rather than the evident works, because compels you to look, to look back, to interpret and reinterpret. I especially like contemporary art works that are capable of moving me, of altering my way of seeing things. I am also increasingly interested in art that activates public spaces and builds relationships between people.
What artists have impressed you lately?
The first works that comes to mind are Irena Haiduk’s art and her ambitious project in the Kassel documenta related to the Yugoslav memory, women's rights and economic systems. Another artist that caught my attention was Christina Schultz, an artist from the Barcelona scene, her project on non-doing has interested me a lot. I also find extremely interesting the way in which Patricio Rivera works. He studies the processes of representation, constructs new procedures that alter the conventional patterns of image construction and revises their usual social value. In addition, he all also generates works of great plastic power.
Why do you think teaching art is important? What is its contribution to society?
Art integrates the intellectual and physical human dimensions in a very complete way. It is sensitivity, intuition and reason. It enriches us as human beings in society and, therefore, makes us more free. We should continue practicing art and learning its historical practices throughout our lives.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching art history at the university?
Teaching contemporary art has the great incentive that you are bringing to class recent works that students do not know. Class after class, you see them getting surprised and even feeling provoked. I also like the fact that they can better understand the meaning of some artistic tendencies, I ask them to do group projects and share them with the rest of the class. They are amazed by how creative they can be!
Any tip you can give an emerging artist?
Deepen the essence of your projects, do research constantly. In one way or another, that will purify your work as an artist.
Any tip you can give someone who wants to start their own art collection?
Get away from the economic investment and go beyond your own taste. Once you have found a work of art that you like, ask yourself why: if you feel that with these arguments you would convince someone that that work has a cultural value, then you are on the right track.
What Artig Gallery artists have caught your attention?
The gallery hosts high quality artists and only talking about few of them it would not be fair for the others. However, among those whom have caught my attention are Luis Gomez MacPherson, for his ability to provide objects with presence; and Gwen Versluis, for the brilliant use of a popular technique like collage to delve into, according to my vision, the dark and pathological of the human soul.
Which concept did you have in mind?
For this selection, I decided to look for those works that could give me a renewed experience of time. The human being is essentially embodied time, and art can teach us many different ways to experience it. I found works that spoke to me in all the disciplines exhibited in the gallery, I also imposed a second limitation: choose only works of painting and photography.
Tell us a little about your selection.
The series Backroads by Sara Janini travels through those open spaces that inhabit a lost time, both present and uninhabitable. Backroads 01 seems especially suggestive to me because it captures the coziness in an inhospitable dehumanized context. I found something similar in Tobias Kaiser's paintings. Brennmaterialen, for example, uses brushstrokes, light and motifs that allow us to identify the presence in our world of a past stuck in time, of solid materials that, despite the work’s title, they do not allow to be set on fire. From the same author, also in Landscape the pictorial technique collaborates in the construction of a beautiful contrast between the cosmos’ time and that of the human natural environment: on the one hand, we have an immense, almost abstract and homogeneous space, of slow and imperceptible time and, on the other hand, a narrative time, a road to the horizon.
Another work that works a very powerful opposition is Robert Wunsch’s photographic work Tsukiji. As if it were a spiritual allegory of Tokyo's gigantic fish market, this photograph harmonizes the unstable chaos of objects with the absolute stillness of a man reading the newspaper. Yin and Yan are in total rapport.
Valentin Russo lengthens the exposure time of a camera without fixing. With this, he deconstructs reality and captures the essence of movement. The result generates a set of colors and shapes that look almost pictorial. This aspect reminds us that our society is defined by its need to move forward and change in an accelerated manner. The work of Ricardo González shows some of the consequences of this attitude, such as the construction of crossing points or non-places. Salida de emergencia is perhaps the most symptomatic because of the social pathology of speed it displays, since it represents the interval through which we pass more and more often, the accidental urgency in which our existence is constantly put into play.
Finally, and as a counterweight, I would like to refer to El olvido, by Martina Matencio, because it defends the stillness and silence that can trap us after a great acceleration. This moment, however, is not shown here as a dark and fearsome death, but rather as a dreamlike and warm space, in which the body can devote itself to feel quietly after forgetting. An impossible space, perhaps, but nonetheless desirable. Thank you for your time.