Wouter Kotte interviews Antonio Seguí, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1971.<
A. S. - No... that is, I don’t really see a difference between working on a flat surface or with a volume. My purpose is to define a certain image that contains its own impact. Sometimes inserting it into space seems necessary to me in order to express its complete poetry. Flat surface, volume: no preference: just the right way of showing the same image.
W. K. - Do you still see a future for painting, meaning for an individual initiative of artists in general and you in particular
A. S. - For me, the means are just what they are; a force directed toward a given end, in this case, one of the final points of artistic activity. Painting in oil, or putting a high-tension wire in place – when it comes to the medium as such, it doesn’t matter to me. The end, alone, seems important to me, to the extent that, the legible mechanism of sensibility proves effective or not. Look, for example... the case of Francis Bacon...this is “traditional” painting, you might say...oil on canvas. To me, its topicality does not need to be questioned.
W. K. - What do you think of the market (the current market price) of painting, how do you think that the work of art loses its social effect and its impact when it becomes the possession of very rich collectors.
A. S. - That...That’s more a political and economic problem that one of production/exchange. The fact that works can be converted into cash, and thus bought by a fringe of society, very rich collectors, one must admit, takes nothing away from the “social effect” of these works. This is a huge question that you are implicitely asking me here: the more general problem of Culture, of its role in society and its exploitation. Society can buy up all the phenomena, cultural or otherwise –even the most hostile to the system which governs it –and to digest them in the sense that they profit in this way.
W. K. - Could you work in a team structure?
A. S. - No. Without acting individualistic, I do not feel very well equipped to work in a team. I only believe that my work does not place me in a position to do that.
W. K. - There is a great difference between your earlier expressionist paintings with a somber tone and the lighter ones of today. The aggressiveness has not disappeared, but the requisite bitterness seems to me to have been changed into mockery and sarcasm.
A. S. - You might say… You know, my work is not exactly an exercise in style on aggressiveness. It is possible that my works five or six years ago were more directly, more spectacularly aggressive.
W. K. - Can you say something about your childhood as it related to the first phase of your art?
A. S. - I was in Spain, in Madrid, around 1954, when I had just turned nineteen. I remember being very impressed by the paintings of a Spanish expressionist painter, Gutiérrez Solana, a friend of Gómez de la Serna. I was starting to paint and, certainly at that time, I was influenced by this artist.
W. K. - Does this second phase mean that you can see your childhood in perspective now?
A. S. - No, I don’t think so. Things happened very quickly. After a period when I was especially attached to the intrinsic structure of expression rather than to expression itself, starting in 1960 I was using photographic transfer – on which I intervened – in order to try to define a mode of expression which corresponded, it seemed to me, to a distance (distance: awareness) with respect to the approach that I had had, when I was younger, to the artistic phenomenon.
W. K. - Beginning in May 1968 you were with the students. You did some engravings, for example “On ne matraque pas l’imagination” (“One doesn’t bludgeon imagination”). Can you tell me what you expected of this resistance, and how you recall these days in May now?
A. S. - Oh… you know… I have never completely had the heart of an old veteran. May 68 undoubtedly was very important, not only for France, moreover; and the shock-waves are still being felt even today. But these are all questions which do not really support my answers as a painter.
W. K. - I see a relationship between your social context work and its psychological representation. Is that right?
A. S. - On the whole, I think I understand that you are asking me what links may exist between my work (psychological representation) and the more global reality of the social world. I will say to you that, in itself, my work as a painter exists, but that, quite obviously, evolving in the social reality, I can’t take it out of that context, any more than I can deny that the latter is indirectly its product. It is, I think, the only possible answer, given the place which is granted to us. There certainly is infinitely more to say.
W. K. - There is a great difference between your prints and your paintings. Is this difference the effect of the technique being applied or have you something different in mind with your graphics and your paintings?
A. S. - Well . . .it’s a little both. It is true that the technique of prints implies a specific graphic image which may appear different from that of paintings. But it is also true that I reserve for my graphic work a sort of, let’s say “messages” although I do not like this word too much – simply because the resources of prints permit me to realize in a more convincing manner than in paintings (where there is a risk of attraction to the “style,” doing things bigger) which only exists to a lesser degree in prints, which is clearer, more directly legible.