Sonia G Caballero. The artist that you are looking for.
There are moments in history that change our course. In this issue of our magazine, it is not the first case of us doing this, but the story of Sonia G Caballero is special. An artist with a sensitivity that picks up influences from a distance but speaks to us from within. Talking with Sonia G Caballero confirms that art and talent do not need rules or regulations. In his case, he gives us peace. There are artists that you would not expect, and Sonia G. Caballero is here to stay.
Sonia G Caballero was born in Madrid, Spain in 1976. Her first contact with painting was during her childhood at the young age of seven.
What did you paint at that time?
Well, natural landscapes. It was because a teacher told my mother when I was a girl, that she pointed me to classes – to some artistic activity – because after seeing me in class, I thought it was a shame to waste my talent. The teacher was María Jesús, from “School of Las Irlandesas” in Madrid.
Do you have saved works from that time?
Yes, my mother has them in storage.
In 1997, at the age of 21, you traveled to Japan for the first time, why did you go to the country of the Rising Sun? And what attracted you to Japan?
Honestly, I had not. I wanted to live in Japan. But imagine looking for work there, all by computer in the field of design and not knowing anything about Japanese. I started learning Japanese when I met Kobu. I enrolled in a school and I was learning for five hours a day for six months. He had studied Spanish, but I was almost always alone, so either I learned to speak Japanese, or I did not talk to anyone.
You have commented that your artistic vocation began to take shape on your first Kyoto trip in the year 2000. What was it due to?
Art in me has always been something latent. However, that image of the artist that we have in mind – bohemian with perennial economic problems – for me was like the forbidden profession. I had to do anything but die of hunger. It’s a shame but it’s true. So, I left all art and started advertising. I see advertising as the art dedicated to selling.
While in Japan, I went to visit Kyoto. It was the turning point in my life. It was to get to the temple of Kinkakuji, which is a temple covered in all gold and something changed. The temple and the gardens are one of those places that seem to transport you in time. And from there, I started using gold and platinum in my work. They were decorations of the Rimpa stream, which is the one I follow, based on backgrounds with gold foil or gold leaf, very thin, which is glued on a surface and painted on top. A form of decoration from the Edo period.
Explain what are the most important influences of your art?
The Japanese decoration. It’s so simple, so Zen, it allows you to be with myself – to connect. Less is more.
The Japanese artists, mainly Ogata Korin, an artist from the Edo period in the current Rimpa is also important. My work ‘Tree of Desires’ is inspired by him. In fact, the artist Gustav Klimt, his ‘Tree of Life’ is also inspired by this same artist. He also had Japanese influence. Many people see my painting and tell me that it reminds them of Klimt. That my work is like the grandson of the others.
I also like Shibata Zhesin a lot. Thanks to him, I have the technique learned from the lacquer. It was laquista, used in the traditional Japanese lacquer, the typical one of the black bowls. I have to say that I am a self-taught artist, I have not gone to form anywhere. I learned by curiosity, seeing works in museums in Japan, studying in books, seeing what I liked and looking for my own way.
In 2005 you finished your studies of interior decoration. Was it a turning point in your work?
I first studied here in Spain, when my second son was born. I have to say that, as I have pointed out before, my studies or my professional training has not really been decisive in my artistic life.
Your style you say is original and differentiating both in painting and decoration. What do you rely on to say it? What is Kourinhaku-oil “and” Neo-naturalism?
The Kourinhaku-oil is a term that I invented today. A naturopath friend, Miguel Navarro – the President of the Naturopathic Collegiate Organization (OCN), told me that in Spain when you invent something, people do not value it. If you put a name on it, people value it more, hence I invented this one. It is an influence of Shibata Zhesin, who uses lacquers. However, not exactly as he did them in Japan. If someone saw me painting, I would see blunders. Yes, the result is beautiful and that is what matters. What I do is a fusion of oil with platinum and Japanese lacquer. The same happens with Neo-Naturalism – it is a fusion of these techniques that go with nature and with its essence that I want to capture.
What do you look for when you create portraits?
It is a fusion between what a person is, his essence, what he is like, and what surrounds him. For example, Miguel was one year old when I photographed him and did that work. Miguel was born in June and I did that work using the spirals that are my symbol. In this case, the sea represents the month of the year in which he was born. The shells and butterflies are like freedom. I use natural elements to express some things.
What has it made you to be a teacher for children from 3 to 12 years old in Japan?
It has been very interesting. In children you see innocence and purity. Let’s say that when you work with a child, you see the purity that we carry inside. You see what comes out naturally. It is amazing, the works that create such small children. I do not know to what extent when you study art if they spoil or fix you.
For 2 years you have implemented your work with a new project focused on jewelry with gold, white gold, yellow gold and diamonds. What does the unique jewelry design provide you?
It is like one step more, to assume one more level. I feel a great satisfaction because each of the works passes through my hands. Each person can carry a unique work of art. When I made the collection of the ‘Tree of Desires’, I only sold medallions of three centimeters and large ones of eight and many people asked for it as a pendant, so I decided to make them. I found a jeweler from Seville who works abroad and with whom it is very easy for me to work with.
And last year you started working on coral sculptures with platinum and diamonds in combination with oil. A new direction in your artistic work?
It is a projection that comes from my childhood. Since I was little, I liked those programs of the marine world. I made a collection of whole coral and started taking care of the corals. I had corals at home. It serves to sensitize with the increase in the temperature of the planet, global warming. To live it at home is to experience it in the first degree. We have to have the air conditioning at a certain temperature because if the temperature goes down two degrees can die.
The subject of the coral is something that has obsessed me. I stay for hours looking at them, how they move, colors. We are not aware that most oxygen comes from the sea, if there is no blue there is no green.
Have you been successful in Japan for the last 15-20 years, in what other countries have you had a good fuck?
Well, especially in Dubai, although it seems incredible, they are my number one fans. Something happened to me that seems a bit of a story. I made a Facebook post about a trip I made, aerial photos of the city. In four days, I had 8,000 likes. From then on, I was even called by a television journalist to interview me, but I am very sensitive, and his network gave violent news and I did not want to.
They sent me many messages, they offered to work with me … I contacted another journalist there, who proposed me to do exhibitions in galleries, but the thing was more. I have also had some success in Abu Dhabi.
And what projects do you have for the next 2/3 years?
There is nothing concrete now. Although I have planned an exhibition in Tokyo, in the Bunkamura gallery, probably in 2020. I have many projects in mind, Dubai, Madrid, Barcelona …, also paint the works of hotels, do works in a busy public center. The works I think many people must see, the more the better. That I buy one person seems a pity. My works, when they see them, the Japanese say that they transmit peace. And I think that’s an important thing that could be useful.
How interesting that vision of wanting to share your art and your gift. If people get excited as you thrill us, it will be great. It will be a pleasure to accompany you on your trip.