"[My art] I believe it is a constant self-portrait, of the mind and also of the spiritual. A reflection of the personal search for the pictorial fact and my way of observing and understanding what surrounds me."
Jorge Solana was born in his father's painting studio, in Ponferrada, León, in 1978. He grew up among brushes, turpentine, canvases, notebooks, and pencils, while his father taught his students. In this way, it was impossible to avoid drawing with perseverance and determination. He showed a talent for drawing that immediately caught his father's attention. He was always encouraged to draw with care, to paint in watercolor, to look for his expressiveness from the emptiness of a sheet of paper or canvas. His father taught him everything he knew, which was not a little, his father had been a student of José Manaut Viglietti, who in turn had been a direct student of Joaquín Sorolla and Cecilio Pla. The "Valencian palette" has always been present in his study. He drew nonstop until he reached the Faculty of Fine Arts of Salamanca, where he had professors such as Rafael Sánchez-Carralero or Miguel Angel Pacheco among other renowned artists. After graduating he dedicated himself to painting and teaching, it is now he who teaches classes and teaches how to draw and paint with the same materials, junk, models, and sculptures that saw him grow up.
Jorge Solana is considered a painter by trade. He is interested in unraveling the mysteries found in the anatomy of both people and objects. Although he has walked through different paths, such as impressionism, expressionism or primitivism, he has always found himself comfortable addressing objective realism.
Most of his work is based on the natural and on nature, therefore devotes special attention to still lifes in his studio and outdoor landscapes. In the observation of objects, he finds the mystery and meditation of the pictorial fact. The objects speak in a clandestine voice, they return the light they receive, converted into something that tries to decipher the technique. They cause him to search for his geometric essence, form, and proportion, but the most important thing is his intimate and close relationship with them. They are his things, they are elements that have always been in his study, some objects are almost 100 years old and have served as a model and inspiration for many of his students as well, with strong perennial characters. Many of them have paint splatters or charcoal stains that tell their story to whoever wants to hear it. He is fascinated by how different they are in themselves if they alter positions, if they are affected by lighting, if they relate to each other by composing new melodies of form and light. His paintings want to be the reflection of all this.
After graduating in Salamanca, he participated in several groups until in 2010 he held his first individual exhibition with a catalog, sponsored by the Institute of Bercianos Studies, in the Social Work of Caja España, which was presented on an itinerary by its different rooms in the León province.
He currently collaborates frequently in the group exhibitions of the Euroartes group. It has also been a cover for the Aires de Córdoba magazine. From 2016 to the present he attends the summer workshops that Cian-M Fabero teaches, with teachers such as Antonio López, Félix de la Concha or Tomás Bañuelos Ramón. A recent milestone is having been shortlisted in the 2019 Figurative contest organized by MEAM. As a highlight it gives priority to being able to devote himself to artistic teaching in his study, following the paternal trail.
A wave of calmness washes over us when we gaze upon Jorge Solana’s works of love. His soft choice of palettes and blurred edges are relaxing and soothing to the eye. Solana’s work carries the grace of someone who has been born into the world of the paintbrush, who’s grown and evolved alongside it, and it now has become somewhat of a second nature. He has the skilled ability to turn an empty vase or a fruit stand into sophisticated and elegant paintings. There is a classic sense of style in all of his pieces.
Q. What role does the artist have in society?
A. The role of the artist has changed a lot in recent years, especially in these last two decades. Although traditional aspects are booming, it is now more difficult than ever to be able to devote oneself fully to our art . There has never been so many artists as good as now and yet it has become more complicated. In the face of society, I think that most professional artists are those who have a daily task to meet the demands of a minority audience and not very well understood. I am referring to work on request, either for private clients or for companies or governments. The orders are punctual and do not maintain much the stability of the artist. Production alternatives should be sought with either teaching or any stable work related to a company.
Society still has some romantic idea that the talented artist triumphs after death. Unfortunately, that is not the case and there are many artists of great talent who never achieve economic stability and have to stop producing their own work in order to look for alternatives, and after dying little by little their work falls into oblivion, due to the immense saturation of great artists today.
On the other hand, there are artists who can dedicate themselves to contemporary art, supported by large banks and companies that finance and promote their works with exorbitant, abusive and elitist prices, mostly conceptual artists and works. In this field, I think that there is no longer a true vanguard response towards society, increasingly indolent and impoverished by the constant crises, and we find a brutal economic speculation to satisfy only a few.
But I believe that society, the world, is waiting for the new Picasso, the new Miguel Angel, the new creative genius to open a new path and return interest in the arts, as there have been in past centuries, current after current, vanguard after vanguard. It seems that in the 21st century we have not seen the birth of any truly new current, everything is revisionist or is maintained in the same models already experienced.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. I think I had a happy childhood, and it is difficult to simplify a single memory among so many sensations. I can say that the love and teachings that my parents transmitted to me is what I can give the most value to today. I had a good time in my primary school, I had good friends, many of whom I still have from those years. I also remember with great joy the old painting studio where my father taught and where I grew up.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I was always clear that I would be a comic artist or illustrator or painter and that I wanted to study Fine Arts. I never had any doubts.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I spent all my childhood and adolescence drawing nonstop. Not only do I remember it, but I still have almost everything. When I was very young, only 4 years old, I drew bullfighters, robots, football and basketball games that included players and audiences from both sides, I also drew the characters of the cartoons on TV. At 8, I was already drawing my favorite comic book characters like Marvel or DC superheroes, Asterix, Tintin, etc., which led me to spend my adolescence learning from artists like Moebius, Milo Manara, Hugo Pratt, Enki Bilal.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. Before starting my higher studies I wanted to be a comic book artist or illustrator, I thought that would be my way until I started Fine Arts, but the deep study of painting made me abandon my initial intentions and become interested in developing my career towards a new approach, painting, which connected me more to my father's trade.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. I believe it is a constant self-portrait, of the mind and also of the spiritual. A reflection of the personal search for the pictorial fact and my way of observing and understanding what surrounds me.
Q. What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
A. Most of the time our own hearts prevent us from many things. Other times the questions of ego or maintaining any set of principles in an inflexible manner can lead to problems, both in order to face our own work as well as to other people, the latter speaking in a more social aspect. Over the years and as I have matured and grown, all those self-defenses have been falling, filing my possible roughnesses. The egos must be minimized if we want to find our balance, our center and our peace, for us, for our work and for our near surroundings.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. As a young man, I would have liked to be able to develop my career in a big city like Madrid, Barcelona or even some more ambitious place. But the most realistic options for this and in my case were in my hometown, Ponferrada, where I already had an artistic and cultural heritage as well as a functioning family business. I think that some dreams and illusions of youth are sacrificed. On the other hand, it is normal in our trade to invest money, sometimes a lot, to be able to produce and export our work, and in the end, not get rewarded for it, thus going through economic difficulties.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. My biggest influence will always be my father. It occupies a whole in what I am as a painter and as a person. I like Velázquez, and in general the Baroque painting. I like to discover painters of realism of the early twentieth century. They were totally eclipsed by the Historical Vanguards and today they are seeing the light again and occupying their deserved places. I like the Art of Classical Greece and I was always fascinated by the Egyptian and pre-Columbian murals.
Of course I have met many people, friends and colleagues over time, who have influenced me and inspired me to continue developing painting, such as the painter Soraya Triana, the sculptor Tomás Bañuelos, Antonio López, Felix de la Concha, the painters Luis Paltré and Manuel Diaz Meré. All of them have greatly influenced me in these last four years, with their techniques, their knowledge and their philosophies.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. Yes, it is. There are very lonely production seasons that can become very arduous. There are artists who enjoy that loneliness and do not have to do anything to counteract it. It is not my case, I am a social person and I like to be accompanied, but those moments of loneliness at work could not be otherwise. It is part of the trade and I think it should be that way. I remember that my father loved to listen to the radio while working. One can put music, radio or TV in the background to keep company, or listen to oneself in all the mental processes that creation entails. But the work of the painter must be in solitude since no one can help you in the decisions of your mental processes and usually not in their executions, and it is something that can make you suffer in a certain way.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I really like music, especially rock, I play guitar and bass and I like to sing. From a young age I was interested in music and I have been part of many bands over the years, some with a certain level of professionalism and commitment. Currently but more occasionally, I collaborate with friends in different musical formations and I continue to give punctual sand concerts. On the other hand, I really enjoy cinema, another thing that I inherited from my father, who was a great movie buff. I am also a reader and collector of comics and fantastic literature. If the books contain illustrations of a good artist, such as Santiago Caruso, the better.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. There is something that seems extremely important to me and it's honesty. One must be honest with oneself and do the same with the works. The honesty to which I refer is the opposite of aesthetic self-complacency. We must return to the painting and drawing, its place of relevance. Once the training phases of an artist are finished, he should forge his speech with resounding works and stop painting or drawing what is not important to oneself. Paint to paint and draw the impersonal, no matter how good technique you have, it is not being honest. There comes a time that it is better not to produce anything if you have nothing honest, genuine, personal or authentic to tell. Everything else is banalizing things, which makes painting and drawing something less, a pretentious hobby.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. I think that being able to dedicate myself to the arts a success. Getting my painting to be honest with me and with the painting itself must be a success. It is also a success to develop an emotional and work or economic balance that gives you peace of mind in your life and to create a state of well-being in your close and family environment.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. It is complex to simplify our vital experiences. I believe that I have learned to be flexible with myself, I have learned to fight for pictorial challenges that I previously thought were unattainable, to face them with enthusiasm and overcome them thanks to effort, and been able to see them with humility and gratitude. From people, I have learned to value them in themselves and not in the idea that we can preconceive or in what we would like them to be and are not. I am more aware of myself, of the space that I can occupy in my environment and I greatly appreciate the moments that other people want to share with me.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. My father told me that Art is a very hard but very beautiful road, and if I walked it, it would have to be for love, for vital necessity, to do it for myself without thinking about whether others can like it or not. I think that Antonio López extended this advice to me by telling me that I already do it and can do it well, paint what belongs to me, the personal, the known and that it is true and honest. On these tips, my work is based.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. Despite being redundant, I maintain that honesty is the key to creating good works, creating because we like it, for love and not for pleasure. Do not stop studying and meeting new artists. Having a critical spirit capable of adopting new formulas, new philosophies and new policies instead of clinging to immovable ideas.
Aiming to have the mental and personal flexibility to face all the challenges that arise in a healthy way.