Creative Spotlight: A Q&A With Nicasio Torres Melgar
Evoking emotion with the smallest sweep of a brush is what Nicasio Torres Melgar does best.
The Spanish artist had an unlikely start as a civil engineering graduate almost 15 years ago but soon swapped the construction of buildings and bridges for a gentler medium, obtaining a fine arts degree from the University of Barcelona in 2011. His inky watercolour works focus on the human form in all interpretations; the ethereal illustrations challenge perceptions of masculinity, raise the subject of eroticism and play with identity in dreamy, celestial fashion.
In celebration of Turnbull & Asser’s AW16 ‘Artist and Architect’ collection, the poetic painter - now on to his fourth exhibition, Voyeur - joined us for a discussion about his creative work.
TA:Firstly, how would you describe your artistic style in three words?
NTM: Blurred, broken and suggestive.
TA: You started off doing a civil engineering degree before switching to fine art. What caused you to make that decision?
NTM: I studied engineering when I was 18 years old. At that time I never thought that art could become a profession but while I had a personal crisis and I took refuge in drawing and it soon became a path I wanted to follow and explore.
TA: Tell us about your work with ShowStudio – what did you do with them?
NTM: I have worked on two projects with ShowStudio, the first was illustrating Milan Men’s Fashion Week for the AW16 season. This was a very enriching experience because rather than stick to the realistic representation of the garments, I was able to showcase an artistic interpretation of the aspects that inspire me, as abstract and emotional subjects. I also undertook similar project for Stella McCartney’s AW16 show at Paris Fashion Week; the designer invited a number of illustrators to interpret her designs through different art mediums.
The second ShowStudio project was titled #StyleShootDraw and was a collaboration with both GARAGE Magazine and Instagram. For two days, 20 illustrators from around the world had the opportunity to live-draw some of the most interesting models today such as Molly Bair, while GARAGE’s Charlotte Stockdale styled them and the legendary Nick Knight photographed it all. This opportunity to meet professionals that I admire in an intimate atmosphere made it an amazing project.
TA: Your trademark technique of using watered down inks stained onto paper is akin to watercolour (albeit grittier) – what made you choose this style? Is this a type of art that came the most natural to you?
NTM: For me, art is the way in which I talk and communicate; when I started using this watery technique I learnt that I can’t always control the process which made my images freer.
TA: You learnt drawing and printmaking as well as painting – do you ever engage in these other art mediums?
NTM: Not at the moment but in the future I would like to explore sculpture. I am very curious to see what my characters would look in a three-dimensional format as it requires thinking not only about figures themselves but also about the theatrical space that surrounds it.
TA: Most of your subjects feature the human form – in both nude bodies and portraiture form. Is this your main inspiration?
NTM: I find the human form an inexhaustible subject of artistic experimentation which makes it a topic that really excites me. It is timeless – you can link it to both tradition and current reality – so it makes me constantly observe and reflect. The human body is similar to fashion in that social aspects influence, and often blur, our thoughts and opinions on it. I'm interested in nudity and intimate space but also its relationship with the public space and fashion.
Fragil (KRSTORE, Barcelona, June 2015): This project plays with the perceptions of masculinity in popular culture. The collection consists of bodies and faces and is a world of opposites - black and white, sensitive and hard, crowded and empty, loud and silent. These drawings revolve around the male figure through which anyone can play, experiment and have a conversation with.
Faz (KRSTORE, Barcelona , October 2014): This project focuses on the human face as a portrait.
TA: Tell us about your new project ‘Voyeur’ – what is it about and what was your inspiration? How does it differ to your past collections?
NTM: The collection pays attention to the erotic imagination of our visual culture. It depicts postures, attitudes, looks and gestures that are typical of this form of representation, creating a visual dialogue between these images and the viewer. These characters show adopt a series of positions and frames, sometimes subtle and other times more whimsical.
TA: What has been your favourite of your own exhibitions to host and why?
NTM: Actually ‘Voyeur’ because it represented a subject that is present everyday yet isn’t spoken about much, meaning it was both familiar and taboo. It was interesting to have that dynamic between the pleasure of seeing and being seen.
TA: Which artists are your all-time favourites and which are inspiring you at the moment?
NTM: Artists like Francis Bacon, Egon Schile, Marlene Dumas and Diane Arbus have definitely had an impact on my work. They've developed a visual language; I have found beauty, bewilderment, and passion in their ways of portraying human beings. It has allowed me to approach my images with emotion and taught me how to expose potential conflicts and tensions through drawing and blurring.
Lately I'm paying attention to Alberto Giacometti’s representational of the human figure through bidimensional drawings and spatial sculptures, as well as Jean Dubuffet’s Art Brut expressions.
TA: What is your favourite piece of your own artwork?
NTM: All my pieces from This Charming Man are symbolic for me because the collection encouraged me to keep going down this path.
This Charming Man (LAPLACE, Barcelona, July 2014): This project revolves around the male figure, undressing masculinity in both a sensual and fragile way. These drawings of the body come to life through ink-wash painting.
You can see all of Nicasio's works here.