“I love beginnings,” the architect Luis I. Kahn wrote in the mid-20th century: “It is the beginnings that guarantee continuation.” The plastic artist Pedro Molina (Málaga, 55 years old) takes up this statement to explain, synthetically, his most recent work: 30 drawings painted over the last five years in black ink on paper. A bet on black and white for the faces, mostly women, which he captures in a first impression from life and which he then works on meticulously in his study of the Churriana district of Malaga.
This set of small and medium format works – to which he has added a sculptural piece where the wall reproduces the white of the paper and the black wood evokes his precise ink strokes – have been brought together in the exhibition Essential strokes, which can be seen until next March 8 in the exhibition hall of the Caja Rural del Sur Foundation in Seville and with which the Andalusian painter delves into his obsessions. The first of them, his interest, not only in the avant-garde, which may be more evident at a first glance of this work, but “in the beginnings of art, in all cultures,” he explains during an interview with EL PAÍS : “I like to look at myself there, in primitive art, that dark moment when everything begins.”
These beginnings, in fact, are fundamental for the entire development of his work. In an absolutely methodical work routine, Molina begins his creative process in some life drawing sessions in front of a model. “For more than 20 years, a group of artists from Malaga have met weekly in a studio to paint and there, suddenly, things happen,” he explains. The artist faces the human body in front of him for just eight minutes, “never more than 10,” he specifies. It is “the most emotional part” of his artistic activity. Then, that ink sketch goes to the studio and “coldly you face a game of chess that has already begun.”
“Those ten minutes can later turn into a whole day of work,” he admits. It is in the studio where Molina outlines, compensates volumes and normalizes — “I also break hundreds,” he jokes — but with the limited freedom that Indian ink allows, with which the level of correction is very limited. However, “everything comes out of that moment,” Molina insists on that brief crucial period of time that conditions his entire creation. The best thing about this weekly ceremony for the artist, from which all of his work is based, is that it provides him with “a maximum level of concentration, higher than when you are in the studio. Even from the same session and with the same model, totally different works can come out.”
As a result, Molina is showing these days in Seville his recreations of human physiognomy, which he has been refining into very geometric paintings and whose interest is increasingly focused on faces, especially those of women. “I solve the masculine ones with two strokes, the feminine one has much more complexity.” All of this, always in black and white, an option that he has arrived at in a permanent artistic evolution that began in figuration and with more colorful work, and that he now distills in these Essential strokes. “For me, color is dispensable. Due to the process by which I arrive at these paintings, it would be nothing more than decoration and I choose not to put it. The drawing itself creates areas, regions, fragmentations…
Despite this order and precision, Molina says he works with great freedom and that with black he eliminates elements of the original drawings in search of the apparent simplicity of lines that seem indebted to both his Architecture studies and those of Fine Arts. Arts, school and faculty, respectively, in which Molina studied during his youth in Seville.
The exhibition is curated by journalist Margot Molina and marks the third time that the Malaga native has shown this work in public, with a first individual exhibition at the University of Malaga in 2019; a group exhibition at the Málaga Municipal Archive in 2022 and this one, which can be seen in Seville until March 8. “I don’t know how long I will be making these drawings, I don’t intervene in my work,” says Molina: “If I keep working, it will continue to evolve and if I stop, it will simply stop.”