Pepe Barroso: “Art needs to be accessible to the public”

Rosario Pérez | Photos: Fran Montes

Interview with Artist Pepe Barroso | Campo de Gibraltar: “Art today needs to be accessible to the public, and not just a luxury for the few”

Campo de Gibraltar painter, Pepe Barroso, lauds those who, like him, combine their art with their profession…

Pepe Barroso (San Roque, 1955), welcomed us to his studio in Algeciras, the workshop where he creates his art pieces, such as those that can be found at the ‘Profanías’ exhibition (a collective exhibition dedicated to Murillo which has been at the Algeciras Museum for three months), or those from one of his latest solo exhibitions, ‘Orbe’, which recently opened to the public at AlCultura.

Pepe Barroso Interview Art
Artist Pepe Barroso

These days, Pepe Barroso is involved in several exciting projects: a new solo art exhibition at the ‘Pescadería Vieja’ in Jerez; the inclusion of his art in a new gallery in Alcalá de Guadaíra (Sevilla), as well as promoting, through an interdisciplinary project, the Visual Arts section of the Instituto de Estudios Campogibraltareños (IECG), for which he just assumed shared management with his friend and artist Javier Machimbarrena who hails from San Sebastián.

“We want to launch several interesting initiatives, including an exchange between Cádiz and Basque artists, in Cádiz and San Sebastián, during the 5th centenary of the first around the world journey,” he tells us.

The San Roque painter, who has a degree in Fine Arts and an extensive artistic career, is convinced that one of the greatest challenges the visual arts are facing today is the need to become more accessible to the public.

This is “vital” for its survival. “I recently participated in the Art Gaucín exhibition along with other artists, with open studios in houses scattered throughout the town. It was a great success, but most of the attendees were foreigners… Art collection has declined substantially in Spain. Less and less art is being bought but, like everything in life, we are dealing with a matter of education. It is necessary to educate kids in schools from an early age. Not only in Art History, but also in the understanding and valuation of artistic reality. This must be done in a fun and attractive way, taking advantage of all the possibilities that technology has to offer.”

Barroso, who has combined his art with being a professor and high-school teacher, regrets that there are those who, having been carried away by prejudices, still consider this duality to be a handicap, and not what it really is: a guarantee of economic stability, which helps reduce the pressure of being subjected to the ups and downs of the market and that facilitates the creative freedom of the artist.

Arte Campo de Gibraltar

“This may sound harsh, but most gallery owners are not interested in an artist who isn’t suffering financial issues… they prefer someone who produces a lot and quickly, even if his fridge is empty and he has no choice but to do so in order to survive,” he claims.

He is someone who, over time, has been very happy to have listened to his father and to have passed his teaching exams, which “were very hard. Over all these years, it allowed me to produce art without pressure, at my own pace, and to devote time to studying and reflecting on the issues that concern me, the issues I like to express through my work.”

The San Roque artist, who usually produces art in series and is very technical in his painting, recognizes that these themes have to do, fundamentally, with the existence of the human being and the fears that bind us, the fruits of our consciousness and the fleeting nature of our own existence.

“Of all the inhabitants on this planet, we’re the only species that knows that we are going to die, and yet… our brains and intelligence have evolved to allow us to achieve marvellous accomplishments, but we are still a species capable of the worst atrocities. We still need to see if humanity will be able to overcome technology or if, on the contrary, we will experience an involution.”

Pepe Barroso Interview Art

As for the visual arts, Barroso knows that the future lies in the integration of artistic work in cities, as is already happening with sculpture and architecture, with significant examples such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or in the city of Chicago itself.

“The concept of a painting hanging in a living room is disappearing, which is something that the bad gallery owners have contributed to; those who only look for business and contributed to a ‘bubble’ that has inflated the price of art… Nowadays, with everything being on the internet, art has to be something accessible to the public, to the people in the streets, and not just a luxury within reach of a minority.”

Interview with Artist Pepe Barroso | Campo de Gibraltar: “Art today needs to be accessible to the public, and not just a luxury for the few”

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