Subject Matter Art


Subject matter in conversation with our artist Yago Partal

When did you become interested in photography?

My interest in photography started when I was studying art in high school. I had three wonderful teachers that really motivated us and they gave us the opportunity to experiment with many mediums. This was a hard time for me as I had gone through a serious illness, missing out part of my teenage years and I was quite lost. I had always turned to drawing to escape my problems, but at that time I suddenly found myself being able to express my feelings immediately through photography. Between these three teachers and my schoolmates they all gave me that big push to do what I really wanted to.


When did you realise you wanted to become a photographer rather than a conceptual designer?

The truth is I don’t consider myself one or the other. I always prefer not to label things as this is a way of limiting them and what we understand of them. I like conceptual design, I’m passionate about photography, illustration, video creation and many artistic disciplines. My work moves between them organically, ideas emerge as I go along, as I have learned not to force them. My mind does not want to focus only on one thing, therefore I imagine my work to be anchored between different disciplines. This is something which one can already appreciate in my work.


How was it working with an icon such as Pedro Almodóvar?
My work for his movie was through a special effects company. I collaborated with this company as a conceptual designer. David, my boss, requested that I do the designs for the Elena Anaya masks, scars, haircuts and dummy surgery [in The Skin I Live In]. I did various designs which once approved by Almodóvar were created. Pedro Almodovar is one of the great authors of contemporary cinema and being able to take part in one of his movies was wonderful.


Which photographers inspired you when you started your career in photography?
Being able to capture reality on paper is something which fascinated me. Artists like Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon who photographed images from distant places but which had a profound emotional impact on me nevertheless. The art of photojournalism.  Later on I was also very fascinated by artists who manipulated reality and created new contexts like Cindy Sherman, Gregory Colbert, Alex Prager or Gregory Crewdson. I am also very fascinated by the world of photography manipulation from Joel Peter-Witkin to Oleg Dou or Erwin Olaf.


What inspired you to create Zoo Portraits?
Since a young age I felt a great connection with and respect for the animal world. I also wanted to study Zoology, but I had to choose. A great influence was also various sets of drawings that I saw during my childhood. This added to my learning process in the world of photography manipulation and illustration.


Describe to us the process of creating a Zoo Portrait.
Like my other works, it’s hard for me to label it. It’s halfway between photomontage, illustration and collage. They are hyper-realist digital illustrations that  are based on photomontage from a collage of many different parts of animals. After that I dress them with clothes that I think look good on them or suit them.


Currently are you working on any new projects?
I’m preparing my first short film which I have developed during the last year and a half. And currently I’m also working on a new series of photographs with a more social background. I have always developed my projects very quickly due to my need for urgency and impatience. In these last two projects I’m working on I have decided for the first time to dedicate the necessary time to them to be able to develop them and not limit myself with a deadline.


Tell us what you love about Barcelona?
It’s a city I love to live in. It’s large but sufficiently accessible so that you can reach most places in less than an hour. It has beaches, mountains, and the climate is unbeatable. It has a strong culture and subculture which makes it one of the most popular European cities. I like the feeling of being in a city where I know hidden places and what is happening. I can bump into people I know  on the street yet at the same time you have the anonymity of a big city. My favourite place in Barcelona is ‘El Call’,  the old Jewish quarter of the city. It is a magical place.

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