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Detail of one of Enric Sant's oil paintings | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Detail of one of Enric Sant's oil paintings | Courtesy of Enric Sant
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Interview With Barcelona-Based Visual Artist Enric Sant

Picture of Alison Moss
Updated: 24 October 2016
Enric Sant’s lanky flesh figures have conquered the streets for several years now and have generated quite some controversy amongst the indolent passersby. Perhaps this is due to the fact that most people are afraid of “the ugly truth” that underlies human condition, which Sant conveys so poignantly. Though the artist has gained notoriety mainly through his massive murals on the streets, he has also showcased his haunting drawings in several exhibitions. We met up with this modern-day Lucian Freud to discover more about him and his body of work.
Enric Sant at work | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Enric Sant at work | Courtesy of Enric Sant

“I guess there’s a part of my work that is kind of cathartic, in a way. It might be true that I expel all of the bad in my paintings in order to keep only what’s good. But I think the main purpose of my paintings is to express all of the disgusting things that go on outside, in the world, more so than inside of myself.”

Oil Painting by Enric Sant | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Oil Painting by Enric Sant | Courtesy of Enric Sant

How do people react to your art?

There has been lots of rejection concerning my work, especially concerning my street art pieces. But I’ve also seen people who just get it right away, and it isn’t always the ones you expect. A couple of years ago, I recall seeing an old man looking at a mural I’d painted in Paral·lel saying: “This mural represents a sick society ejecting all of its evils.” That was a pleasant surprise.

The controversial mural in Paral·lel | Courtesy of Enric Sant
The controversial mural in Paral·lel | Courtesy of Enric Sant

Although your work is quite expressionistic, it is also extremely meticulous and pays great attention to detail. What’s your training in drawing?

I studied Fine Arts but didn’t learn much technique there. I specialized in Conceptual painting, so we focused more on concepts and self-expression than on the technical aspects of painting. I guess I just learnt by doing.

Detail of one of Enric Sant's oil paintings | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Detail of one of Enric Sant’s oil paintings | Courtesy of Enric Sant

What’s your creative process? How do ideas come to you?

It’s very chaotic. I always have a notebook on me. That way, when ideas start spilling out of me, I can jot them down. Sometimes I blurt some pieces out right away, and in other cases, it’s kind of a more pondered process, like “How can I visually translate these ideas that are inside my head?”

Drawings from Enric's notebook | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Drawings from Enric’s notebook | Courtesy of Enric Sant

What part of your work satisfies you the most?

I guess the part in which I spill everything out on paper. I feel like I’m entering some kind of ecstasy. But it’s also nice to see the finished product. They are two very different types of satisfaction.

Enric Sant in the studio | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Enric Sant in the studio | Courtesy of Enric Sant

How would you define your body of work?

That’s a hard one! I suppose the best way to put it is that my work speaks about the human condition, or should I say, the degeneration of human condition.

Oil Painting by Enric Sant | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Oil Painting by Enric Sant | Courtesy of Enric Sant

What artists inspire you?

Mainly my friends, Aryz and Gr170. I think they’re both great artists, and I don’t say so because they’re my friends. I like how Aryz is able to express himself through any kind of media and the way Gr170 manages to poetically express current affairs. Other than that, Bom-K and Jake & Dinos Champan are artists that I really look up to. I feel like some of their pieces are very akin to what I make. I’m also very much inspired by the atmosphere in Goya’s pieces.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes by Francisco de Goya | © DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH/Wikicommons
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes by Francisco de Goya | © DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH/WikiCommons

There’s a quote that says: “Art comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.” Where do you think you stand in that sentence?

I don’t exactly know where I would stand on that quote, but what I do know is that if I don’t make art, I feel uncomfortable. I can be working all day long, but when I get home, I still need to paint. I think artists always have an urge to create, to get things out of their system. And even though there is a lot of information available nowadays, society needs sensitive people to express what they think of the world. History is also written by artists and by their honest outlook on the world.

Mural by Enric Sant | Courtesy of Enric Sant
Mural by Enric Sant | Courtesy of Enric Sant

Any future projects coming up?

Yes, but they are still in the making. One of them is a series of pencil drawings on paper. I’m not sure about the title yet, but it would be something along the lines of The guardians of men. I would portray a series of characters that are in charge of protecting men across history.

A drawing from the series The Guardians of Men | Courtesy of Enric Sant
A drawing from the series The Guardians of Men | Courtesy of Enric Sant

That inspires more panic than it does reassurance!

There is definitely that ambivalence in the work. These characters watch over mankind in a slightly cruel way.

A drawing from the series The Guardians of Men | Courtesy of Enric Sant
A drawing from the series The Guardians of Men | Courtesy of Enric Sant