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LOOK INTO THE ART AND CULTURE OF EMPORDÀ THROUGH ITS CHARACTERS

Bernat Daviu

"WORKING WITH PEOPLE HAS MADE ME A BETTER ARTIST"
By Gisela Chillida Photo Andrea Ferrés

Bernat Daviu is an artist and gallery owner. His artistic practice is focused on creating images with discordant levels of meaning that often address the topic of combining life and art. Painting is present in most of his projects, along with videos, costume design, food, and performance, which enables him to generate dynamic social situations in physical and collective spaces. 

One of the pieces that forms part of your installation Just before the end of painting is a video that shows a very fast succession of artworks on a mobile device. This is an allusion to the life-review experience phenomenon. According to this phenomenon, just before dying the most important moments in our lives flash before our eyes. Without sounding too gloomy, which images of the Empordà do you think would come to you? What stories and landscapes of the Empordà are engraved in your retina? 

If I think about images, one that comes to mind is my daily life when I was a kid. I lived in the Empordà until I was eighteen. I remember when I would go outdoors to play, when we made forts in the forests, when we played soccer, or when we went by bike to Fitor or Les Gavarres. 

Can you tell me about the pop-up event you organized associated with the gallery that you direct together with Joana Roda, Bombon Projects. 

Yes, at my parents’ old store. It’s a venture we started up three years ago. It was during the time when no one really knew what would happen and we all felt stuck. As a gallery what you want is to show the work of artists, but it wasn’t possible to travel, and we knew that in the summer there was a lot of movement in the Empordà. Over time other galleries have joined as well.

I’d like to ask you about your artistic practice. Would you say that painting is the central axis around which other disciplines pivot? 

Yes, painting is the focal point of my work. In reality, it’s very easy to explain. I started off by drawing comic strips and making drawings. All of it was irreverent and silly, making fun of everything and everyone. Then I took the leap to painting. It’s a pretty common journey. But there was a moment in which I saw that painting really limited me. I wanted to break from this passive work and I needed to activate it. That’s when it came to me: if my work was supported on fabric, why not disconnect it from the frame and start making clothes out of it? That allowed me to expand its possibilities and then collaborate with other people. 

How important are collaborative practices for you? 

They’re the real key. Having other viewpoints is what has made me, if not a better artist, at least feel more realized. Working with others is more interesting and at the same time it allows me to keep painting. Many projects are co-signed collaborations. 

What about your solo work? 

As a painter I continue to work in a perhaps more conventional manner. In other words, when you’re alone in the studio and going over and over the topics you’re addressing, it’s often a dialogue with yourself or with the painting’s story. It’s a way of combining two very different practices. Sometimes I need to be in the studio alone and other times I need people. This involves jumping from one place to another, it’s a vital need.