Three fellow artists set out from the Netherlands to see Mexico. They were escaping the winter for the sun of Mexico in hopes of exploring their artistic pursuits in a residency, sharing their space, ideas, and exploration of a new environment. The El Pez Soluble 2019 art residency took place in Tequisquiapan, Central Mexico. Daan Noppen, Daniel Martin and Santiago Pani worked into the wee hours of the morning that rolled into the pleasures of the night.
We spoke to Daan Noppen about their El Pez Soluble adventures, the exhibition, and works that they produced during their time there. We hope you enjoy!
From left to right: Santiago Pani, Daniel Martin and Daan Noppen
“Noppen is an international artist mainly working in drawing and photography. He is best known for his realistic larger than life drawings of portraits and bodies. Physics and it’s relation to our being, our emotions, plays a big part in his work. The artist plays with notions of reality by projecting time as a physical dimension. Rather than becoming something ‘scientific’ this opens up a visual world of our hidden layers of our desires, our pain and our cry for being loved.”
“Martin creates his work by the deformation and recreation of matter. He casts his sculptural paintings by the mastery of chance and mistakes. His collage portraits breathe a universe of undiscovered human artifacts and transmutational structures.”
“Pani (1990), Mexican/Dutch artist currently living and working in the Netherlands.
His interests range from the smallness of the entomological world to the grandiosity of the cosmos. The themes that are recurrent in his work are insects, celestial bodies and portraits; the later becoming the spectators and metaphorical meeting point between the other two worlds.”
Interview with Daan Noppen
What was the goal before embarking on the residency?
I think the three of us decided to go together when Santiago Pani invited us to join him on a trip to Mexico. For me, it sounded like a nice way to skip the winter in Europe :) but I also wanted to go to a place that would inspire me to make a new body of work.
Why these two other artists?
We decided last year to start working together in one studio, so for me, this was also like a tryout of that.
What was your goal?
The residency was basically focussed on making work that would be exhibited at the end of the residency. For me, Mexico is also a place I have been before, and I know there is a strong art market. December and January are not the ideal times of the year to meet up with people for everyone is on holiday, but it was nice to meet up with the people that were there and to set up some plans of the future.
Did you stick to the original goal or did it change?
Well, we found out that in December everything kind of shuts down for the holidays so it became difficult to make enough hours to finish all the work. We were invited for so many drinks and barbecues that we decided to start early in the atelier so that by lunchtime, which was mostly around 3:30 or 4 pm, we kind of worked a full day already.
You mentioned that you now have more questions than answers. What are these questions that have come to light?
I used to have this naive idea that once you grow into your career, things would become more clear, but I feel it is rather the opposite. For me, starting to paint really expanded my view on my art in so many ways. I draw very differently, style-wise, than what I paint so foremost it was very liberating. Also, I used to work like a Monck on my drawings, 100 or 200 hours on one piece was normal. So to be able to suddenly create a painting in a week or a bit gave my work a great push forward. The problem with my drawings became that I was too careful with them. So in terms of developing my work that started to slow things down. With painting that became a different story, also how that reflected back on how I started to experiment a lot with drawing. So things are changing there as well. But again that also brings upon all these new questions. Where is all this going and what does it mean for my work.
What do you think was successful about your residency?
I guess, for me personally, the most important thing that came out of it was that we got invited for next year to do a group show in the City Museum of Queretaro.
What did you learn?
Tough one, I guess I learned a lot more not to overthink stuff but just start creating. I need to do that a lot more. I guess the people I was around with just helped me a lot with that.
Could you describe an experience that will stay with you from the residency?
Yeah man, we had this amazing butcher literally across the street. These guys made hamburgers on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. I guess at one point we just came there the full four days every week, lol.
I was also totally fascinated by the landscape. I am not much of a landscape person, but I guess that would be something to go and do in the future.
What was the goal of the traveling project?
Well, the three of us also very well realize that being an artist is not just about creating art. Not many people explain this to you in art school, but it is so vital to build a network of people that support your work. Getting together as a group and helping each other with that you can really accelerate.
Did the traveling show develop as a result of the residency or was this something that the residency had set out as guidelines?
The show was part of the residency though it is not something that was guaranteed. I guess it was a lot about what happened during the residency, where people were going with their work and the ideas that come up for a show. Mexico is a lot more relaxed and fluid than Europe, people can get an idea and bring the project very far, but it could also be that is just doesn’t happen.
What form did this show take?
The show was a 2-week group show of 5 artists that took place in Hercules, which used to be a cotton factory in the old days. They restarted the place but turned it into this cultural place. It had a cinema, a garden for cultural events, various restaurants and a brewery. A really vibrant place to be.
We got a lot of freedom and support to really create our own thing there. The show theme was inspired by the location and its history. It was called La area 13 (The 13th Labour of Hercules). A lot of paintings were made on the cotton from that factory.
What do you think was successful about the show?
It was a very important show for all of us. I think it was a great way to present ourselves to the Mexican art market. And like I said before, walking away with a museum show was very important for me.
Daan Noppen: Website
Daniel Martin: Website
Santiago Pani: Instagram