There are almost no publications about him, for a painting he takes a whole year, for his photographic works he develops the hardware himself, and the software along with it, and he has only exhibited twice in his entire career. The trained engineer is involved in large projects on facsimileing and 3D reproduction for museums, but his skill is largely applied to his own slowly and brilliantly developing work. Manuel Franquelo is an artist of unusual radicalism, both in the autonomy of his means of production and in his relationship to the art market. In conversation it quickly becomes clear how withdrawn yet informed, how reflected yet modest he is as a person, but also how mundanely existential—despite its technical perfection—his art is. A position that in its resistive precision and clear-sightedness can only count as pioneering.
Michael Heitz:You studied engineering (telecommunications) before going on to study art. Could you tell me something about your path to technology? And how about your road to art?
Manuel Franquelo:My father had a penchant for math, and studied engineering; my mother, music and philosophy. I think it was important for me to grow up in an environment where widely diverging attitudes and points of view were constantly mixing in a very natural way. I moved to Madrid to study engineering, and not long after I started preparing to enter to art school.
When I was almost finished with my engineering degree, I decided that I wanted to devote more time to art, so I opted not to continue this first path. A few years later I finished my fine arts degree, and from then until today, art has been my main profession. I have done some engineering, though almost exclusively in an artistic capacity, not professionally.
You conduct intensive research into the techniques of visual reproduction, you scan and duplicate historical masterpieces with high-level, self-designed hardware and software, and you obtain tremendous accuracy and brilliance in their realistic portrayal. Where does this apparent obsession come from, and what is your artistic interest in it?
I think it’s important to clarify that what interests me is not the meticulous, the minute, or the perfect, as is often the interpretation. What interests me is the insignificant, that is, that part of the everyday that goes unnoticed—what nobody pays attention to. The interpretation of the world through the...
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