PROLOGUE | PERSONAL
Mister Griss, where do we talk together, where do we meet you? My studio at the ID Studio complex in GenslerStr would be ideal. I was fortunate to find a spacious painting area with high ceilings and enormous windows that welcome the spring light for a luminous atmosphere. This place is a great setting to meet, work and share my paintings. Maybe we are sitting at your favorite place? If not in my studio: Krøhan Bress in Ackerstraße, Berlin. Having a cigar and good scotch, always sitting on that old leather sofa in the back room. Talking about art, good art, the sublime kind. Where do you come from, where were you born when? I was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1971. How and where do you currently live and work? Since 2015 I have lived and worked in Berlin. Which stations and people have shaped you? This question inevitably takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of my grandparents, who were highly influential in my character. Of course, my parents are significant in their own way. Attending Columbia University was an extraordinary experience that offered me opportunities to meet and share with world-class artists and notable thinkers since the beginning of my career. Living in New York City in my 20s at that time (early ’90s) was in itself a character-defining experience on its own. Since then, my life has taken many paths to where I am now, and I look forward to what might come. I trust that the best is yet to come! Which writers do you currently find exciting and which books are on your bookshelf? There are so many it’s hard to pinpoint. From the top of my head: Žižek, Camus, Dostoyevsky, Vargas Llosa, and some artists’ biographies from different authors that I keep within reach around my room and at the studio for reference.
Pablo Griss Portrait with 155×140, courtesy of Luisa Catucci Gallery
Which books have influenced or shaped you? A good book will stay with you for the rest of your life, way past the time you read it and into the years; it is brought back by reflections about yourself, life, and your surroundings. It becomes a stoic shield able to help you solve certain conundrums and protect you from circumstances. This layering experience is what transcends, away from the anecdotic or the dangerous rhetorics, which can damage the essence, unveil ignorance, and deplete the true legacy of works of art. What are you currently reading and where do you keep the book? I carry around Slavoj Žižek’s “Trouble in Paradise” in my Jacket pocket, and a worn-out copy of “A Happy Death” by Albert Camus sits now by my bed. What music do you listen to and when? Recently, The war on Drugs is among my most played along with the Nationals and classics like Pink Floyd and Marillion are always welcome companions at the studio. If you would cook something for us, what would it be? A tasty outdoor grill and beer. What do you like to eat most? Definitely meat; in Germany, the Pork is outstanding. What do you think about breakfast? I am not much of a breakfast person. I am happy to grab a cup of black coffee just to get me started, but my first meal would be lunch. What kind of sport or counterbalance to your work do you practice? I enjoy mountain biking, although, to be honest, it has not been a priority in the past year or so. Do you have special passions (hobbies) for which you are burning, and if so, which ones? My life is all about painting; even when I am not at the studio, I am painting. The evolution within my work has occurred naturally. Observing daily with a constructively critical approach, embracing possibilities instead of canceling them, is a process in which I continuously ponder and edit my work. I understand painting as a path to self-growth, which offers the answers I cannot find in the plane in which I live. It reflects life, perhaps a product of what I have been, what I am now, and how I imagine myself in the future. What personality trait defines you? My wife would say Stubborn, and I say persistent. Same trait, different perspectives.
Pablo Griss Studio, courtesy of Luisa Catucci Gallery
INTERVIEW | ARTIST + POSITION
To begin, please tell us about your artistic vita in a few sentences.
North of South America a coastal Caribbean country that shares the Amazon with Brazil and the Andes with Peru. Venezuela used to be a referential country due to its oil-related wealth, natural beauty, and solid artistic presence.
I was born in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. This was (and remains) a city of dramatic contrasts, overflowing with foreign influences: artistic, architectural, culinary, musical, and technological. My childhood coincided with an expansive period for my country, which ended as I came of age.
As an artist, my path started with exploring math-related options; hence, I went into Economics and engineering at Columbia University in New York. Later, I received my BA from the School of Visual Arts at Columbia University. Since then, Art has become my life in all seriousness and with utmost responsibility.
I have taken part in several group and solo exhibitions in the U.S.A, Europe, and Latin America throughout my career. For the current exhibition at Catucci Gallery in Berlin; I’ve come back to the series “Intervention,” first introduced during ArtBo ’13 in a dual exhibiting space with well-known Neo Geo artist Peter Halley.
The Intervention pieces are iterations and explorations of the essence of my work…
Briefly explain your current project / the upcoming exhibition.
My recent paintings evoke fine recollections registered as a continuum of energetic encounters like the breeze or ocean waves, where silence enhances sounds’ depth. Through them, I bridge intangible but fundamental cadences of our existence: the complex, organized structure of beats, pulses, exhalations, inhalations, steps, encounters, and alterations of these rhythms in an endless spectrum of different frequencies we each are.
Pablo Griss, Studio Room, Exhibition INTERVENTION, courtesy of Luisa Catucci Gallery
What are you currently most concerned about; what is on your mind?
Russian invasion of Ukraine.
How did you come to art? Why art?
Art came to me. It was there all along, but I studied economics and engineering before realizing this was my path.
What makes you happy at the moment?
Peace of mind, a healthy family, walks around Orankesee with my dog, Kimchi and time to work focused. Also, now that Winter is over, natural light reaching my studio is a blessing.
What is currently scaring you?
I am scared of not having enough time in this lifetime to achieve all I want to. Recently I find some of the narratives dragging society into reactive and dogmatic behaviors particularly scary.
Do you believe that art has a social responsibility? And what do you think it can do?
I honestly believe art is a potent transformation tool—a mirror to deep self-reflection. The responsibility of art is to transcend, and the only way to do so is to keep itself away from political narratives that are just the latest fad of the moment.
What makes your art special? What is it about – what are the central themes of your work?
Through painting, I explore the visual possibilities of energy and its qualities: magnetic fields, radiation, resonance, currents, and electromagnetic waves…
Read Pablo Griss´ answer about his work further in THE DEED | DAS WERK.
Pablo Griss, Exhibition INTERVENTION, courtesy of Luisa Catucci Gallery
How do you protect yourself from too much inspiration these days?
I stay focused; inspiration is not an issue as I have a strong sense of discipline that keeps it in check; my concern is the lack of time to produce all my projects.
How much in your works is planned beforehand – how much is created intuitively?
In percentages, I would say 50/50. My work results from a thorough process where intuition and planned ideas are interwoven as each step is achieved. I follow my intuition as I execute, but nothing is random or unexpected.
What are your (next) goals?
I have several goals; in the short term, I want to paint a group of significant paintings from my series Intervention and Color Magnetic Continuum. I have had these paintings in my mind for many years now. I want to give closure to the series with these major-sized works.
What is your opinion about faith? Do you have principles of faith or is there a motto?
My motto is to show up every day at the studio even when I don’t feel like it; I’d say my principles are consistency, hard work, and discipline. Although I don’t follow a specific spiritual practice, I do believe in something larger than myself; I honor my life by respecting my work and focusing on the high standards I’ve set for it.
Which project would you still like to realize, if lack of time, courage or financial resources would not play a role?
I would like to explore the three-dimensionality possibilities of my ideas by developing a group of large-scale sculptures that have been on my mind for a while. I even have some prototypes around the studio.
What do you consider to be attributes of good art?
Formality and high quality; Anyone can come up with good ideas; to make them work in a formal scenario is the most crucial part.
Pablo Griss Studio, courtesy of Luisa Catucci Gallery
Is one born as an artist? Or is studying art compulsory in your view?
Both, being an artist is not just about talent; it takes much more than that. You need to know how to search to find, and education gives you that. There is history and references to everything. The awareness of those only enriches your vocabulary and understanding of your work as an artist. What is compulsory is to remove the arrogance fed by ignorance.
To whom do you show a new work first?
To my wife.
What does the first hour of your day look like?
I live and work in my own time zone; I am a night person, so my first hour of the day is noon, and it is a precious time of quiet reflection at home with my dog and a large cup of black coffee.
In times of the internet of things, are galleries (from your point of view) still necessary? If so, why and what for? Social media – a blessing or a curse?
Social media is a fantastic tool for exposure and, therefore, for the art world’s commercial end. Regardless of how great technologies might come up, nothing will replace the experience of art in the real world. Also crucially: visual education must happen in museums and galleries where artworks are to be appreciated up close and interacted with within a space. There is great danger in reducing all life experiences through a pocket-sized screen.
EPILOGUE | CURRENT
The exhibition INTERVENTION with paintings by Pablo Griss is on view at Luisa Catucci Gallery, Allerstraße 38, 12049 Berlin-Neukölln from 4. März to 1. Mai 2022.
The written interview is an important medium to introduce artists, to spread their messages and to get in touch with art lovers. The interviews are not edited or shortened by our editors and are always reproduced in original sound. Therefore, we do not translate the interview into English or German unless the interviewee submits a translation.
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