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Mirror Of The Soul:
A Q&A With Artist Xavi Carbonell

A Xavi Carbonell painting hangs in my home, which is strange as I wasn’t a believer in abstract art.

But I have seen the light – and the darks – and the colors in between, which follow some bounds and jet forth from others.

My Xavi Carbonell painting is loud and temperamental and surges with color and chaos – but it’s one I couldn’t live without.

His painting is no longer just the mirror of his soul. I have found it, at times, to be the mirror of mine.

Without further ado…

The NewsWhistle Q&A with artist Xavi Carbonell

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Name: Xavi Carbonell
Date of Interview: 3/14/14
Age (if you want to give it up): Not dead
Birthplace: Alcoi, Spain (Between Valencia and Alicante)
Current town: NYC
Occupation: Artist
Represented by: Art Angler

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1. What’s the funniest or saddest thing that’s happened to you this week?

The funniest thing this week was hearing a visitor at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC, after seeing my work say, “I am going home to hang my granddaughter’s work and tell everyone it’s by a famous artist.” I thought to myself how great for the little girl as I am sure it’s wonderful work and at the same time fantastic for me, I have successfully painted like a child which is my artistic goal!

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2. What’s your favorite movie? And why?

The original Alice in Wonderland; I loved the quote “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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3. What’s the biggest risk you took in life?

Getting married…and fortunately it worked out great. Also taking out a bank loan 6 years ago to come to NYC to paint and show my work, without knowing anyone in New York.

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4. If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?

When I first started painting I used an extra bedroom in my apartment as a studio. One night while my wife and I were sleeping I woke up to the sound of bubble wrap popping. In the studio room some of my cleaning rags had solvents on them and spontaneously combusted. The room caught on fire and all of my works were destroyed. I immediately woke up my wife and had her leave the building. I then pounded on all of my neighbor’s doors on my floor to alert them of the fire. When the last neighbor opened her door she thanked me and told me I should put on some clothes. It was only then I realized I was totally naked. If I could change one thing I guess I would have put on some pajamas before parading around the building. Thankfully no one was hurt and the firemen arrived in time, but some of the older ladies in the building still wink at me in the hallways.

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5. Tell us your favorite joke:

I love a good laugh but can never remember the jokes.

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6. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I’m shy. Also all of my works are untitled on purpose. I want each viewer to create their own story without any pre-conceived ideas.

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7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

“Trabaja hijo puta trabaja.” Translation… “Work, you son of b-tch, work.” — Jose Manuel Ciria, famous living Spanish artist/mentor. Very inspirational advice.

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8. Who’s your favorite celebrity? And why?

My favorite celebrities aren’t quite celebrities, rather people who follow their dreams and work hard to make them come true.

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9. What’s your strangest phobia or superstition?

Arachnophobia, and my nightmare is the spiders will wrap me up in their webs and paint me in a type of artistic performance (while playing the song “We Are The Champions” by Queen). I am not superstitious just a little crazy.

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10. Last, but not least, is there anything you want to pitch, promote or discuss?

Yes, I’d love to see a change in the educational arts system for children. I think kids should be allowed to paint outside of the lines, be encouraged to explore their creative sides and think for themselves.

11. Oh, and a bonus curve question or two (Answer as many or as a few as you like ). . .

a. How did you get your start as an artist? Would you recommend art as a career?

25 years ago I was working in a museum as a general staff member and that particular day my job was to count the visitors that attended an exhibit by the Spanish artist Antonio Saura (think of the guy holding the hand clicker). It was so tedious that I stopped counting people and started to copy Saura’s works… I haven’t stopped painting since. I recommend people first try art as a hobby. If they can’t sleep at night because they are thinking about what they will paint, tomorrow then I suggest they make it their career.

b. Who are your influences? And name five current abstract artists that you admire:

My greatest influence is my own subconscious, although sometimes it plays tricks on me.

As far as 5 abstract artists that I admire I’d say, Cy Twombly is the first to come to mind. If I had to count four more they’d be Dieter Roth, Robert Motherwell, Antonio Tapies, and Manuel Mompó.

c. What is your favorite city in Spain? And what are some of your favorite spots there?

I especially love Alcoi where I live and work for it’s spectacular landscapes (mountains) and the Mediterranean beaches are only a half hour away. Casa Manolo Restaurant in Daimus, Gandia on the beach is a hidden gem and a culinary experience.

d. Why is abstract art important? And why did you choose to become an abstract artist?

In reality for me it’s not just abstract art that is important, but rather all forms of artistic expression. I just happen to particularly enjoy the creative process of the abstract genre. I didn’t choose to be an abstract artist per se, however abstraction is the visual language that best allows me to communicate and express myself.

e. How do you describe your work? And what series or themes are you currently exploring in your work?

My work is pure feelings and emotions and it’s a continuous dialogue with the viewer. I have often heard my work creates more questions than answers.

As far as series or themes, I continue to explore “dibujo infantil,” children’s artwork. It’s innocence is so refreshing and short lived. As we get older we lose the ability to be so creative as we fall into our cultural and social norms. I am constantly trying to reconnect with that moment of infantile freedom. 

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CREDITS

All square-shaped works above are titled:

Xavi Carbonell
Untitled, 2014
Mixed media on canvas
150 x 150 cm

All rectangular works:

Xavi Carbonell
Untitled, 2014
Mixed media on paper
70 x 100 cm