"ART TAUGHT ME TO FLY. NOW I USE IT TO FIND PEACE, TRANQUILITY, AND ANSWERS AMID CHAOS."
Héctor Pineda was born in 1968 in Mexico City and he is the eldest son of a middle-class family. From a very young age, there were always two things that made an impression on him: art and science. He studied chemistry applied to pharmaceuticals and worked for many years in pharma laboratories. First, in the areas of production and then in logistics, and as that happened, he drew in his spare time.
His childhood was lonely and of few friends. He preferred to be at home reading books such as, Nietzsche, Hess, Sartre, paralleled to books regarding atomic energy, Einstein's theory of relativity and universal history, or drawing comics, fiction stories and heroes with their superpowers and human weaknesses.
Héctor Pineda has edited art books, given lectures and at some point, he even owned an art gallery. Through his works, Héctor Pineda is in the constant search to understand the truth, beauty, and complexity of human behavior and thoughts. A glance at his art work opens the gate to an imagined reality that almost no one dares to question. His art- intriguing, controversial, daring, bold, sensual, beautiful, intricate, spiritual and even intimidating, leaves you simply wondering where it all stands…while at the same time knowing exactly what it all means. Hector delivers with precision what nowadays, many choose to forget.
Q. Do you remember the first piece of art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I only remember one of my first drawings when I was 16. It was a pencil portrait of Einstein, copied from a biographical book, I may still have that book in my library. I used to copy some heroes from comics or cover music albums, but I remember the enthusiasm with which I drew Galactus "The Devourer of Universes", and the angel in Led Zeppelin's "Swan Song" album (I drew it on one of the walls of my bedroom, it was about 1 meter high).
Q. What's shaped your artistic journey since then?
A. Since then I’ve been interested in mythology, fantasy, gallant, monstrosity, philosophy and I combined it years later with eroticism when I started with the first digital manipulations in early 2000.
I still do some digital art, drawing, collage, assemblies, watercolor, and collaborations with artists from other countries, making drawings with the exquisite corpse technique (with which you can intellectually be infected by a circle of creators, it´s amazing!).
I believe after 3 decades I changed the gods, ancient myths and comic heroes for newer and modern ones like capitalism, media, happiness, and sex; the anguished representation of the modern man.
Q. Tell us about some of the highlights of your artistic career?
A. There were three pretty distinct ones that really impacted my career and made me extremely happy:
Back in 2010, I and other artists formed a group called “The Surreal Arts” on the digital platform DeviantArt. We wanted to go out into the real world with our work and proposal, make exhibitions, books, conferences, etc. After some time and with the support of nEgosit – a Polish publishing house in charge of Roman Newak and Exilentia Exiff – we managed to publish some books, one of them with the title "Imagine the Imagination". For this specific one, I was commissioned as curator and editor in chief to invite, select and accommodate the works under three themes: Dreams, Nightmares, and Visions. The book was launched that same year, followed by exhibitions and very interesting collaborations that brought together a group of artists whose work is very intense, provocative and has an outsider feel. The book includes artists of great recognition and career, but also many who were just beginning. I think that was one of the main contributions of the work of that group. The editorial no longer exists, the group disappeared and DeviantArt became a place where there is a lot of censorship for what many of us were doing. We suffered from complaints, removal of our art and even canceling of our accounts. We tried to create a site to show that type of art without censorship, but its existence was also ephemeral.
My second milestone was my participation in “Dreams and Divinities”, held in Tuxtla in 2014 with an extraordinary group of people organized by Liba Waring Stambollion and Gabriela Garza. This show – inspired by cultural and spiritual references, nature, visions, dreams or fantasy – were pretty magical days watching and listening to many artists who I admired for years and with whom we had done some projects on the internet or works together as exquisite corpses. There were conferences, amazing conversations, and events in different locations. I had the great satisfaction of contributing a little in the organization and logistics of some of the works that participated. But definitely, the best experience was to make new friends.
Q. Why did you decide to become an artist?
A. I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision about it. I just drew what I wanted and loved the absolute freedom to create without any moral or ethical restrictions. And I enjoy doing it with what I can: pencil, ink, watercolor, photo-manipulation, photography, collage or assemblies.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular? Are there any particular painting traditions or 'old masters' that have influenced your work?
A. There are many things that influence my work, not necessarily painters nor great masters. I feel more identified with not so known characters. One that comes to mind is the North American Illustrator Henry Darger, an outsider who created his work on pieces of paper and colors that he barely managed to complete. Most of his work was known until after his death. His most important piece – "The Realms of the Unreal, about the Glandeco-Angelinian War-Storm caused by the Rebellion of Slave Children" is a true wonder, art at its purest essence. Other are John Santerineross, an obscure and symbolist photographer; Joel Peter Witkin with his provocative and controversial works about death, religion, myth and allegory; David Lawrence, a photographer that depicts the world of sadomasochism; Athur Zirkazwo, Jim Overbeck, Dariusz Skitek, Gérard Gachet, Pierre Molinier, Stelarc, Banksy and many others. Of these, I admire the originality of their work and their contribution to what is essential in art: freedom of creation.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Nothing. It’s a big lie that confuses more than it helps. I think a satisfied life is better than a successful life… whatever that means.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. I do not think it's a lonely life… how boring it would be!!! There is no loneliness in the process of creation. You are, after all, with yourself. You get inspired by many people – like the work of a bus driver – there is a whole life happening around you and that is precisely what the artist manages to catch. He is a collector of scenes and ideas that come from outside, processed from the inside of his senses and thoughts. On the other hand, the “alone man" is a "sick man".
Q. What does your work aim to say?
A. I am not interested in the reaction caused by what I do. It is simply a complaint, an expression, an experiment and sometimes, just a drawing.
What I do I do from an internal need. I cannot conceive my life without that. It's like breathing, as Dostoevsky wrote: “Art is as much a need for humanity as eating and drinking…”.
I spent decades practically doing nothing artistically speaking and it was dark times. It's the creative process that I love and keeps me alive. The imagination, the hours at the drawing table with the back pain, sharpening the pencil, preparing the canvas, reading about the topic I chose, listening to music while I do it. At the end the finished work goes to a drawer and sometimes it is possible to expose, others not.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Be creative, without restrictions, without limits, and as Brecht wrote: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it”.
Q. Apart from making art, what do you love doing?
A. I love to visit museums and theaters. I pretty much enjoy reading, discovering new artists, listening to music, both at home or live concerts. Walk my dogs, traveling and walking in the woods with my wife.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. Be bold and original.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Be yourself and work a balanced life. Be optimistic, but realistic. Explore, take risks and if you are not amused, just don’t do it.