Home Magazine Abstract Expressionism Unleashed: Conversations with Javier Rey

Javier Rey is a Colombian artist & photographer. His work has been shown in many collective exhibitions, one solo exhibition, and several international art fairs such as ArtLima (Peru), Scope Art Fair (Miami) and La Feria Del Millón (Colombia). Rey's work has also appeared in books such as "Unlocked", by the Greek collective Atopos, and was chosen as one of the 145 most relevant visual artists and photographers on the web in 2015. Read the Article to Discover More

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Kooness: Describe what kind of art you focus on.
Javier Rey:
My work focuses on documenting or recreating the human experience through my 'specific interests' ranging from urban landscapes, the configuration of cities, to the interaction of individuals in their everyday lives. I approach these themes through an almost taxonomic exercise, breaking down the details of the reality in which we exist, and sometimes creating my own reality. The sculptural qualities of objects, buildings, and bodies capture my attention and lead me to study them, emphasizing the strangeness that the texture, size, and
complexity of their attributes may cause me, often elaborating a new reality focused on the obsession for a cleanliness and perfection humanly impossible to achieve.

K: Why Do You Make This Type of Art?
Recently, I’ve been diagnosed as part of the autistic spectrum, and this has helped me understand the way I connect images and concepts. I have realized that my primary interests are
evoking emotions and finding patterns, and the way these two lines intertwine along the way. A sense of nostalgia or loneliness is very present in my work, perhaps triggered by the same isolation I perceive as a neurodivergent individual. There is a certain connection in the way I want to highlight undervalued objects in everyday life and transform them into pieces that, due to their qualities, can be appreciated in a special way, and it goes the same way for some emotions and events in my life that are used as fuel for my work. I’m starting to realize this a different and particular way to perceive the physical world, and incidentally my work is a way to elucidate what my mind elucubrates constantly.


Javier Rey. Mirage #7, 2020. Courtesy of The Art Design Project

K: What Inspires You? What are you inspired by?
I started taking photos trying to capture everyday life, and becoming somewhat obsessed with youth, pleasure and utopias. I sought to understand the complexity of human relationships from an almost clinical standpoint, observing their behaviors, customs, and habits. I’ve always noticed that what surrounds me enormously intrigues me, and that creates an obsessive need to portray the human experience as an astonished observer, but also with the desire to create a document I can revisit. The city and its flows and patterns, people and their peculiarities, as well as the traces our existence leaves behind, are things that inspire me to create images and explore through them the reality of my human condition. Artists like Wolfgang Tillmans or Daniel Everett have created inspiring images that have influenced my work and, at the same time, have changed the paradigm through which I used to understand the world of art and photography.

K: Describe your series
I feel that my work is a way of interpreting the landscape, from urban to natural scenarios, capturing my surroundings that are often ignored or overlooked by myself and others, and finding beauty in things that are usually considered "ugly." I try to convey how colors, textures, repetitive shapes, and patterns evoke a visceral response, almost as if the structural complexity of a radio antenna can be compared to that of a tree. In this sense, I look at the urban landscape with more compassionate eyes. Yet, there's also a touch of irony in my approach, as I point out how humans create these structures, prioritizing its functionality instead of aesthetics, regardless of its impact on the landscape. This results in a manipulated landscape that organically adapts to our needs, generating certain static or noise that I find visually rich and interesting.

Javier Rey. 1007 Windows, 2018. Courtesy of The Art Design Project

K: How do you develop your art skills?
I became interested in art from a very young age and always believed that I could develop my skills and learn on my own what I needed to carry out my projects. To some extent, that was true, at least for the technical aspects of the process, which usually aren't enough. It wasn't until I entered the National University of Colombia to study design and photography that I had opportunities for academic discussion, finding the theoretical and conceptual tools necessary to think and create at a much deeper and, in a way, more exciting level for me. These spaces of discussion among peers have been crucial in prompting much larger and more complex questions in me, which I seek to address through my work. Also, in the last few years, I have been working at a Fine Art printing studio, producing mine and other Colombian artist’s work. Part of my job involves managing and executing the editing and printing projects for these artists, which allows me to get to know their work methods and thought process. This has been one of the most enriching experiences, as it helps me accelerate my own pace of work and to become much more flexible, understanding that all work styles and ways of creating art are valid and important.

K: How Do You Make Your Artwork and what is the process behind your work?
I'm usually out exploring the city, repetitively taking photos, as images are the way my mind works, I’m usually looking for ways to consume all kinds of visual stimuli. I need to be on the move because, in a way, I feel that spending entire days locked up in my studio leads to monotonous and predictable results. Rituals are fundamental to mobilize me and my work and enter a state of “hyperfocus”. I can become quite obsessive with them. Putting my body in motion with a trivial task or an activity that produces dopamine helps me generate a sense of momentum that starts with something insignificant and ends up leading me to continue with much larger and consuming tasks. By this, I mean that procrastination has become a fundamental activity, and I have been able to use it as a strategy to inspire myself or to complete projects that had been left unfinished. I see it as a way of warming up before getting into action. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you must be able to enjoy yourself in order to be able to enjoy your work. In the end, I consider pleasure as the one thing that keeps me going, and it can help us to be more honest and passionate about our artistic pursuits.

Cover image: Javier Rey. 2007 Windows, 2020. Courtesy of The Art Design Project

Written by Kooness

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