Meeting Pablo Canivell
How long have you been making ceramics and what brought you to it?
I got into ceramics thanks to my therapist in 2018. I was experiencing anxiety and my therapist recommended clay as beneficial for stress relief, and as a form of mindfulness meditation to battle my anxiety. It sounds like a total cliché but it actually helped a lot, especially during stressful periods such as the lockdown. Spanish restrictions were really severe so I started making ceramics more intensely to cope with the anxiety/situation. Indeed my work began to become more known during the lockdown through Instagram. I guess people were checking more social media during those days while I was featuring my ceramics and its process every day.
To my surprise, my work was very well received and I decided to dedicate myself professionally to ceramics. Long story short this is how Ceramics moved beyond a mere hobby to a creative career.
You have an Art history background – is it easy to free yourself from all those references? Who inspires you particularly?
Yes, I studied history of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London. From there I have worked in various galleries, auctions houses and museums in Venice, London & Málaga. Therefore, I draw inspiration from my knowledge of 20th Century Modern Art (particularly Jean Cocteau, Matisse, Jean Arp, Lucie Rie and Picasso) but more strongly from ancient pottery.
During the 1960s the accidentally discovered Phoenician necropolis of Trayamar was found in my grandfather's garden. Trayamar Necropolis (Algarrobo, Málaga) is the most noteworthy Paleopunic tomb complex in the Western Mediterranean. Therefore, ever since my childhood, I have been strongly influenced by this archaeological collection and that's probably why my work is informed by ancient pottery.
I love the idea of using art references, I see it as an hommage to the artists I admired the most or has impacted my life (especially while I studied and worked in the art world). I think that using those references is a great way to capture more information that can be translated and mixed into my artwork.
Would you define yourself as a collector? Do you have a collection of objects / artworks? If yes, from which artists?
Yes, I definitely define myself as a collector of all types of art, including ceramics. I do collect mainly archaeological pieces but also contemporary by artists such as Kiho Kang and Akiko Hirai.
Can you share a bit more about your making process? Do you draw before working on clay or is it spontaneous?
Yes, I do a lot of sketches before starting a new work, Although most times I change my mind in the interim and end up doing something completely different (Especially when I work on the wheel).
I even take pictures of my works before glazing them to try (digitally) different colours, patterns and textures over them.
Do you prefer hand building or wheel throwing? Do you think you will keep working with both techniques in the future?
I do prefer hand building, I feel hand building allows me to create different shapes. My favourite technique is the coiling technique when I do hand-built ceramics. That tactile gratification allows me to savour the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Seeing my finger marks (sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally) means that a part of me and my spiritual experience in that specific moment will be in that piece forever (unless the work explodes of course). As some of my hand-built ceramic vessels (especially the ones using this coiling technique) can explode in the kiln, I also love taking pictures of them before the firing. Just in case.
I do love wheel throwing too, and I feel like it is a never-ending learning technique, and there is always something else new to learn. I love how challenging wheel throwing can be. Even though I feel like hand-building it is my best therapy or form of mindfulness meditation to regulate my emotions, I see myself working with both techniques in the future.
You currently live and work in Malaga, does it impact your work?
Yes, Málaga has had a great impact on my work. The fact that it is such an arty city, full of exhibitions and artists living in here, those beautiful sunny landscape, and its life quality has really impacted my work. Málaga, in particular in the last decade, has emerged as the Spanish art destination and perfect place for expats and people from other cities of the country to move in, WFH or international tech companies allocated in Málaga. Independent ceramic studios have opened and become spaces where you can meet like-minded creative people and where you can have a smart talk about music, culture, and politics. That sense of community is also very appealing when it comes to Ceramics.
I always define Málaga as a happy place.
Can you tell us a bit more about each piece selected for Volume Ceramics?
The Hand thrown works I created for Volume Ceramics are very much inspired by Lucie Rie's ceramics. I have been always being obsessed by her flared rim vessels and big bowls. I feel like in each piece I have ever made there is a bit of that increasing admiration I have always had for Lucie. I do love to experiment with totally new challenging styles and techniques.
Regarding the big matte white hand-building work, it echoes the archaeological works of the Phoenicians but again recreating that flared rim shape, therefore mixing ancient and modern references.
Where do you see your practice headed in the future?
I don't want to get stuck in a fixed style.
I love to experiment with new techniques, new styles, glazes.... I have never repeated a work the same, it would be very boring for me to do the same work over and over again. I see myself in the future doing completely new things and probably working in bigger and bigger formats.
What are you currently listening to at the studio?
Lately, I am constantly listening to H Hunt. I think it is the perfect music to listen while I am creating. It is playing right now Pêche II by H Hunt.