Lita Cabellut made herself known in London in 2011 thanks to La Perla Negra, her smashing debut solo show inspired by one of the most celebrated artists of all time – the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. After less than a year, Lita returns to London Opera Gallery with a highly captivating series of paintings titled A Portrait of Human knowledge, depicting some of the most influential icons of knowledge from the past 150 years. Ranging from Stravinsky, Nureyev, Marie Curie, Billy Holiday, Garcia Lorca, Rudolf Steiner to Sigmund Freud, A Portrait of Human knowledge represents a voyage through human emotions, made all the more vivid and entrancing by Lita’s unique style of painting.
Born into a Gypsy family in Barcelona, Lita Cabellut was adopted at the age of 13. A self confessed lover of Goya, Velazquez, Ribera and Rembrandt, Lita opened her first exhibition in the Town Hall of Masnou, Barcelona when she was seventeen. At 19 she left Spain to study at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, Netherlands where Lita currently lives and works.
Lita Cabellut has kindly agreed to answer a few of our questions.
As a first question, I’d like to ask a bit more about yourself; what made you decide to become an artist?
This is something that simply happens to you; the art and creative world choices you, not vice versa.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in art making?
I think I consciously decided to become an artist when I was 13; as far as I remember though, I have been involved in the arts since a very early age.
What artists inspire you the most at the moment?
Goya above all, I was really impressed by his Black Paintings – the so called Pinturas Negras
Where do you usually get your inspiration from? Can you walk us a bit trough your creative process?
Working in series, the process of painting starts with finding a new concept. I’m sitting in a chair without moving until I have the whole project in mind. I am more than a painter, I am a storyteller: for me the process of painting isn’t that important, what concerns me the most is the strength of the visual experience, namely the strength of my portraits.
In your work you use a technique similar to fresco painting; can you tell us a bit more about this?
Well it is a rather complicated and a very laborious process that brought me to this specific technique that is now my signature.
"When we look at the paintings of Lita Cabellut, we experience ourselves"; what do you think is meant by this?
Everything, Lucien Freud said that every artist always paints a self portrait, no matter what he or she is actually painting; and I do agree with him.
How did the idea of A Portrait of Human knowledge come about?
The people I depicted surely left their mark on history. They left us a precious heritage, the fruits of which we continue to enjoy today. In a way, my exhibition is intended to remind us that we can make great things happen.
You also make videos, photos and installations; what drives you to express yourself, say, through photography rather than through paintings?
A good artist does not have any obsession with the medium, being aware of the time that he or she is living in. An artist is like a journalist, a witness of her time. This is to say, if an artist needs to paint with shoes instead of a brush to convey his message, he or she will do so. Art is a creative process that requires you to get out of the box and looks further than you can see.
What other interests do you have outside art?
I have many interests; I love my life in all its aspects, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to see and to do everything I want. It is such a shame that human beings live such a short life.
As a last question, what’s next on your agenda?
My next exhibition will be inspired to the circus and the freak shows; it will reflect on the illusion of the reality as seen through a mirror; in a way, it will represent a real striptease of the soul.
A Portrait of Human knowledge will be running until October 31st at the Opera Gallery, 134 New Bond Street, W1S 2TF London.
All images courtesy of Opera Gallery.
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari