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30 noviembre 2021

Lita Cabellut: “Art is one of the best vehicles to work towards equality”

Artist of the year in the Netherlands, where she lives, Lita Cabellut (Huesca, 1961) is one of the most sought-after living contemporary Spanish painters in the art market. Her works have traveled to London, Paris, Seoul and New York. We talked about the evolution of her technique, her connection with Aragonese landscapes or with Francisco de Goya. And also about feminine and feminist art.

You were born in Sariñena, but Lita Cabellut’s childhood is more related to Barcelona. What memories do you have of your first steps in Aragon?

Unfortunately none because I was too small, but I assure you that later I had the opportunity to take long and short steps in my beloved Aragon. I have always felt very welcome and supported.

How do you recover your childhood in your work? Is it more a return to the origin, to reconnect with your roots or a real memory?

I believe that the body, the cells, the blood… contain memories. That inheritance manifests itself in a capricious and unconscious way, but all that together makes me recognize my land. My first pictorial period contains a very Aragonese color palette, earths, ochers, browns, blacks… a great link through the colors, their austerity and their bravura in the same formula.

Can we see this connection with Sariñena in any specific work?

Just what I was telling you before about the unconscious memory, but that manifests itself through life and your way of perceiving it, appears because it is hidden and at the same time latent, mute inside you, but with a voice.

How did you discover your vocation with painting?

Life is and continues to be very generous with me. It was a great gift. My adoptive mother took me to visit the Prado Museum when I was thirteen years old and there I discovered and felt the greatness and absolute emotion of Art. There I told her that I wanted to become an artist, to be able to transmit what I had felt when I saw Rubens and Goya.

How was your learning process?

Disciplinary, an uphill climb that never seemed to end, and to tell you the truth, I’m in the middle of it. Learning, training is a prism of passion, dedication, perseverance and above all humility in the face of failure and success.

Very briefly, you go from an expressionist art to the character and then to the deconstruction. How do you describe your artistic evolution, your own style?

How would I explain it in a few words… because I could explain this question in several weeks. It’s not something you choose at the moment of making, the process of an artist is comparable to a fruit merchant. The fruits are sturdy, in full color and the transformation they acquire over time is so beautiful and so impossible to manipulate… the change cannot be accelerated from an intellectual or emotional point of view: the artists’ periods are a manifesto of testimony towards life.

Lita Cabellut
Lita Cabellut
Do you feel more influenced by Goya or by the Dutch masters?

Goya is part of that cellular heritage. Goya is imprinted on my skin, on my muscles. The Dutch masters are my admired and valued through the awareness that I have been acquiring, the virtuosity in some of them is incomparable.

Maybe because of Goya because you share the origin, the freedom with which you look at art, the rebelliousness… Don’t you think?

My ethical formation on art, on how to observe the human being and be more human… the learning of that contrast of blacks and yellow lashes… this so important and essential was taught to me by my master Goya, and how difficult it is to approach such a human and free spirit as his. My daily exercises are these approaches to the essence of art.

What is your favorite work by Goya and why?

I have several and I will name one of them: The meadow of San Isidro. This piece is my favorite because there we are constantly reminded that life can strip us of everything we have achieved and loved and that the only thing left is to walk without losing who we are, a society in which we will always move together.

The first time you showed the deconstruction of your pieces in Spain was at the Goya Museum in Zaragoza with ‘La Victoria del Silencio’. What did it mean for you to see your work exhibited next to your great reference?

A great pride and heartfelt gratitude. I remember being deeply moved by having the opportunity to be so close to him in a space with him.

With that feeling, do you feel like going back to Spain?

I have never left Spain. I will never go back, I will always be there.

You are the third most sought-after contemporary Spanish artist after Miquel Barceló and the late Juan Muñoz. What makes an artist to be among the most sought after?

I honestly don’t know, there are so many good artists that are not on any list! I have been lucky enough to find gallery owners and collectors in my career who have been very supportive, but I will also tell you that leaving your skin in what you create gives you an unimaginable strength and capacity for work.

Appreciated in Spain, you have also recently been named artist of the year 2021 in the Netherlands. How do you feel with so much recognition?

I always appreciate recognition but in the solitude of your studio, when you work and face your doubts and emotions… the vanity of recognition is only an enemy in sheep’s clothing.

You have recently opted for sculpture and have presented your productions to the public in Amsterdam. Why now? What is the reason for this evolution?

The artist works tirelessly and evolution is the natural state. After manipulating the pieces for their ‘transformation’ it was a very logical step for me to reach three-dimensionality in this way.

Lita Cabellut
Lita Cabellut next to one of the works from Bodas de Sangre.
Which work or project are you most proud of?

It is difficult for me to be proud of one or another project in particular because in all of them I give all my soul and all my senses. I can tell you the one that moved me a lot and helped me to go through a fundamental period in my work: “Bodas de Sangre” by my beloved Federico García Lorca.

You have also become a female reference in contemporary art, a sector in which women are treated as passive subjects or underrepresented. It’s hard to see a woman exhibiting on her own; her works are often shown in group exhibitions. Is there any progress in equality?

No. There is a lot of work to be done in this sector. The pioneers, the pioneering women, paved the way with sweat, humiliation and silences full of strength. Now we are in a moment where those silences and that strength have more and more voice. I am a great optimist and I believe that great steps are being taken, even if they are in very limited distances.

The feminine condition and the vindication of feminism is also constant in your professional career. Is art a good vehicle to work in this struggle for equality?

Absolutely. Perhaps one of the best, because art has no dress and has no name, art is so powerful and contains so much love that it is impossible to resist the truth it contains.

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