OVERSTANDARD is proud to present an exceptional artist: Antonio García Villarán, Andalusian, resident in Seville and Doctor of Fine Arts. His works are in institutions and private collections worldwide. Antonio’s YouTube channel has amassed over 1.2 million followers and some of his videos have collected more than 4 million views. Antonio is an “enfant terrible”. In his videos he dares to formulate what millions think about white the elephants of art, whom no one before has dared to criticize publicly. And not only that… he has also denounced monetary speculation in art without talent.
HAMPARTE is the term that Antonio has given to art without talent – and on which he has written the book: “THE ART OF HAVING NO TALENT”. Hamparte is a concept that is becoming more recognized every day, and here we have its creator.
In your days as an art student… What artists motivated you to continue? .
I remember that one of the artists I liked the most was precisely Vincent Van Gogh. Although I have criticized some aspects of his life and his painting in my videos, there are many things in his work that continue to interest me. At that time I was looking a lot at the Impressionists, such as Pissarro, Monet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, and little by little I began to focus on the most classic but also the most contemporary. I was very interested (and still am) in the black paintings of Goya, the works of Velázquez, those of El Greco, Tiziano, Rubens and also the avant-garde artists of the beginning of the 20th century such as Kirchner, Chagall, Munch, Kandinski, Klee , Schielle, and of course Picasso.
I dare to say that I don’t think there is a soccer commentator who is also a soccer player. But I do know of some artists, very few, who are also critical of the genre they practice. How do you feel about that double role, being a painter and critic? Are there advantages and disadvantages?
Being critical of art is something that comes natural to me. It helps me to continue learning, to continue advancing in my painting and to advance my knowledge. On occasion I have also changed my mind, of course. Research is something that should never be left behind. I practice it every day and that keeps the river of my creativity flowing.
And if we were to play around with this double role: What would Antonio, the critic and art expert, say about the style of Antonio, the artist? This is not about reaching a conclusion about art as “good” or “bad” I am referring to a technical-stylistic analysis in general terms of the series: “Andalusian Allegories”.
Regarding the “Andalusian Allegories”, which are the series of works that made me return to painting oil paintings after spending 9 years dedicated to drawing and illustration, I have to say that it is a series that drinks from the themes and the techniques of the old masters, both Andalusian and Spanish. Although some more than others. The influence of Goya, Solana or Ressendi can be seen, although the use of animal skeletons and skulls is somewhat less seen in painting, at least so insistently. The beauty generated by these skeletons bathed in primary colored lights makes them have the contemporaneity of their time. Regarding the technique, oil on canvas, it is timeless. In a historical moment in which the avant-gardes of the early 20th century continue to develop and in which individuality is what defines today’s artist, it must be said that these paintings are very personal, have a style appropriate to their theme and they are made from the knowledge of someone who has spent his whole life dedicated to the plastic arts. I hope I haven’t gotten too high. LOL (OR hahaha)
Hamparte as a name for art without talent is a concept that you have introduced. We already know that there is a monetary aspect involved in selling nonsense as if it were sublime art. But what would you say about the collapse of common sense, or values, that has opened the way to Hamparte? Could you give a couple of examples of European Hamparte?
As I say in my videos and in my book, there is Hamparte everywhere. Regarding the collapse of common sense, that has opened the way to Hamparte, I don’t think it was like that. There is no collapse, there is speculation, deception and false moral superiority of those who defend it. And I am not the only one with this point of view, it is supported by thousands of people who support my ideas on the internet. For example, no matter how well known Cattelan may be in the art world, I don’t think his “banana” stuck to the wall has any artistic value, nor do I think it invites reflection beyond a simple joke at an art fair. It’ as simple as that and everyone can see it.
Some brainy critics of the old guard will come up with texts as explanatory as they are hollow, trying to elaborate ideas about the banana that of course are pulled out of thin air. But of course, they have to eat and use their knowledge to legitimize this type of work.
Without going any further we can see the latest thing that Damien Hirst is doing, the paintings of colored dots, which he makes with no effort at all. You just have to go to his instagram to see his “process” – and the lack of interest with which he performs the boring dripping. Those dots look like regular wallpaper. There is no concept, there is no technique, there is nothing.
In your videos I sense a kind of anger in your criticism of Hamparte. Several thousand of your followers (myself included) on YouTube identify with that anger. How was the process of jumping from artist to public denouncer of gross economic speculation in art?
I didn’t mean to be where I am now. When I started uploading videos on YouTube, I did it to promote my online courses on Udemy (courses on demand), but after a while I made other types of videos in which I simply gave my opinion about artists I knew and had studied very well. I have always been critical of art, both that of others and mine. Without criticism there is no progress. I understood that YouTube was a space of freedom from where I could find people who related to my ideas – or simply let off steam by saying what I really thought. And it turns out that it has been much more. Anyway, I take it naturally. Although the strangest thing of all is when they stop me on the street to ask for photos. That was not what I expected when I started making videos.
Art critics, be it in literature, music, cinema, etc., all over the world, pay almost religious veneration to local white elephants, whom they don´t dare to touch. This veneration becomes aggressive when the white elephant is criticized. How has the community of critics in Spain received you? What is the worst/best thing that has been said about you?
At first I got a lot of hate. And it’s normal. Art criticism in Spain was non-existent. I myself was a subscriber to several art magazines and I never saw an article giving a critical view of an exhibition. They looked like store-bought, custom-written items. Many of them were a jumble of strange words arranged so that nothing could be understood. And nothing was understood, of course, but you had to nod and say “of course, of course, this artist is phenomenal, his work transports us to the infinity of being and we…”, in short: Rhetoric. When I did the first HARCO project, that is when I walked through the Madrid Art Fairs in 2020, both gallery owners and artists were somewhat afraid of me. Many didn’t even dare to come near me. It seemed that they had seen an alien. They found it very strange and some even insulted me. But I also found people who greeted me kindly, who recognized my work and who supported me. Those second ones were of greater number. The second year I did this project things changed. At times they hardly even let me breathe. Everyone wanted to take a picture with me, gallery owners wanted me, to talk about their galleries, or certain artists. I understood that they had become aware of the scope of the internet – and I felt welcomed by the vast majority.
If possible… could you tell us something about your fascination with one of your most characteristic figurative elements: the skull?
My fascination with skulls date back to when I was a child, but I hadn’t realized it. When I started painting skeletons and collecting bones, I began to remember my childhood and found many elements that took me to the same place. I had skull key chains, skull scarves, hung bones in my painting studio, and I was fascinated by anatomy. When I went back to painting pictures, I decided to remove all of the taboos that I had had since I was a child, for example having to make completely original work, that did not look like anyone else’s and with a conceptual and contemporary technique – or simply paint nice things that were easy to sell. None of those options were good, since they restricted my creativity. I decided that if I didn’t sell my work, I wouldn’t mind, but I wanted to leave a legacy of my own. I began to investigate about my land, Andalusia, and about the topics that today have become obsolete. So I have painted dogs dressed as bullfighters, flamenco, Nazarenes and many more. To be authentic, I have decided to talk about what I know, based on my experiences, and I also decided that I would paint the way I like the most… although some still say that it is something of the past. I believe that painting is more alive than ever, even though I paint skeletons.
NFTs have created huge opportunities for digital art. You, yourself have made your own NFT collection with “Cryptoarte131313”. Could you say a few words about this new field and its future development?
For us, artists, being able to be registered through blockchain technology and subsequently commercialize our digital works like NFTs, is one of the best news we could have received. Getting royalties seems logical when it comes to writers and musicians, but it has been extremely difficult for painters. The works of artists, digital and traditional, will live together in the art world. However, as always we must focus on the debate about what type of art we want, what we consider quality… and finally: which works will prevail and which will remain as residuals.