Campins’ fog and horizon. (Interview).

By Marcelo Morales

 
“Campins’ fog and horizon”, by Marcelo Morales. ART OnCuba

I arrived half asleep in the morning to that Zen space that Campins’ studio is, to that Zen universe that Campins himself is, to that peace. I was always intrigued by Campins’ ability to build spaces with few elements, but the idea of the horizon within those elements was what caught my attention the most. A technical curiosity, I emphasize, but that had a spiritual dimension at the same time.

-The element of the horizon [in my paintings] is quite intentional, – he said. -It is [deliberated] in some paintings, in others it is something that comes almost unconsciously. It has to do with the way I structure the composition by a golden rule of painting. This is part of the process of creating the work so as to be as in proportion as possible, but the idea of the horizon always amazed me. Eduardo Ponjuan once told me at ISA: «Man, do not paint any more horizons, because the horizon conditions you», and then I thought about that and painted some pictures without horizons but I realized that the horizon was important to me, maybe not to him but to me.

And throughout history that has been an important element. If you look at paintings from before Renaissance, you realize that horizon was always extremely high. There was no horizon and perspective was different, wasn’t it? What was at the top was like a third level [above land and sky] and the levels were defined from the top of the composition down. Then that changed. Giotto took some steps in that direction, but the guy who changed all that was Tiziano. He was the one who put the horizon low on the canvas, and it was a simple detail, but something as simple as that changes the whole course of painting. Da Vinci’s horizons are high up, if you look at the Mona Lisa, the landscape is in the middle and the horizon is at the top, the whole horizon is high, extremely high in the paintings.

When horizon is lower down, the human figure takes on another dimension. It is a simple idea, but no one had done it until that time. Even in Chinese painting, the concept of perspective was with a high horizon. Of course, Tiziano was in a certain way a product of all the contributions other artists of the Renaissance had made to perspective, but Tiziano was the one who lowered the line of horizon. I have some paintings with the horizon higher up; in others, is a bit lower. I move it a lot. For me the horizon has always been like … I don’t know, man, it’s like a magic thing … because when I was a child, in my house, in Manzanillo, have you seen that there are mountains in Manzanillo? Well, I live on one of those hills, and when you stand at the door of my house, you can see the sea and the edge of the city and the countryside, and the horizon is a very marked thing there.

There are many places in the city where you can’t see the horizon, but you can always see it from my house. And something very beautiful happens there: when I got up to go to school in Manzanillo, there was always fog in the city. That continues happening nowadays. It happens many days of the year. It’s a very humid city. This always caught my attention, there were days when that was very intense and you could see nothing in the corner, you couldn’t see anything, you could not even see the horizon.

DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THOSE GRAY SKIES
THAT YOU PAINT?

Yes, that always caught my attention. When I was going to school, that was always a motivation for me because when leaving I always had that question, you see nothing in the fog, there is no horizon, nothing. It was a game that I loved. And over time, it has been something that I realized has marked me; in the end, in art, despite all the conceptual intentions and everything you have studied … there is one thing which is what motivates you, beyond any conceptual information.

And I’ve realized that these are the things that have conditioned my way of seeing art. Over the years, you incorporate other things. This has to do with the idea of the horizon because it has to do with the idea of the mind building things, in the end you realize that you are the one who builds the horizon; the horizon doesn’t exist. Life is space, and the horizon is a mental limit, a visual limit. In the end, you realize it doesn’t exist; you look for the horizon and you never find it.

WHEN YOU GET TO THE PLACE
YOU ALREADY MOVED IT AWAY AGAIN?

Of course, then it is like a projection of the mind, but a very inspiring projection of the mind, because it makes me reflect on the way reality is constructed through the senses in general, as an illusion. It is like a challenge that I pose sometimes, because sometimes I don’t put horizons in my paintings for that very reason, for the same reason that the horizon is an illusion, something that doesn’t exist. How can I make a painting where I don’t include a horizon, but at the same time, I give that feeling of space, that sense of timelessness?

We talked about many other things, thousands of other things. I crossed the hall of the studio, I passed before the paintings of Chinito , who paints slabs and whose name I can never remember, and the slabs ran in all directions; I saw the closed studio of Osvaldito. I also saw the dogs barking in the yard and the central point of my memory, my vanishing point, was a child entering that fog of his childhood, that fog that you cannot touch, a horizon that you cannot reach.