Exploring the glitch visual arts practice of Spanish artist Rafael Jiménez


Someone once said, “Every time you remember something, your mind alters it ever so slightly, until all of your best and worst memories are almost entirely fictional.” This notion questions the very foundations of our collective approach to human thought and psychology. It’s sad, of course, because what are we if not the sum of our experiences, and what are we removed from their reliability? However, there is also some solace to be found here, because if something couldn’t have been as great as we think, could it really have been as terrible? An interesting idea, certainly, but even more interesting when it manifests itself through art. This brings us directly to the work of Spanish artist Rafael Jiménez, originally from Cordoba in Spain, where he currently lives and works on his digital art. Jiménez graduated in Fine Arts, with a specialization in engraving and design from the University of Seville in 2012. He began his career with mural art and participated in numerous events throughout Spain, exploring different techniques painting in an urban space. His practice took him to New York to establish contacts with big names in urban art, then he also spent time with the archaeological team of the Cuevas de Nerja in 2009. These experiences marked a turning point for the artist and encourage him to devote himself exclusively to the plastic and visual arts.

Father, 2018, Charcoal on paper Image: Courtesy of Rafael Jiménez

Discussing his early creative journey, the artist tells STIR: “As a child, I felt an affinity for drawing and I practiced it constantly. never been beyond a game for me. At the age of 13, I started painting graffiti with urban artist OTES. He not only taught me how to paint, he taught me how to paint. also learned to be in tune with the hip-hop movement and took me to many places, painting non-stop for a few years. Jiménez looks back on that time happily, but admits he had little or no interest in what he was doing beyond simply painting what he wanted. Eventually, he decided to pursue his own path, starting with a training at the Beaux-Arts. He continues: “It’s up to university that I decided to focus on my own practice and immerse myself in all those questions and ways of seeing the world that art allowed me. I tried to experiment with different shapes and styles. It was truly a time of great self-discovery where I got to know myself and learn from classmates and multiple references. My interest in portraiture, image distortion, the passage of time and the differences between memory and art history developed in parallel during my last two years of college, manifesting in clay, the glitch and my appropriation of existing images.

Duelo a garrotazos, Goya, 2021, Modeling clay on paper and print on fabric, Rafael Jiménez |  STIRworld
Duelo a garrotazos, Goya, 2021, Modeling clay on paper and print on fabric Image: Courtesy of Rafael Jiménez

When it comes to previous mediums such as portraiture, clay, and more, what stands out the most is Jiménez’ focus on glitch art. Much of his work feels like some kind of “analog glitch”, which is a very interesting and bold approach to the art form: glitch art is, since its inception , a question of digital, but here is an artist who applies it to his pictorial practice in order to complicate the questions of human memory. Jiménez’s work invites us to ask ourselves how much our memory of faces, events and feelings can be obscured, and in this, carries both a kind of sadness and very rare joy, which only those who have seen great upheaval and great pain in their lives can understand. really. Fascinatingly, this ties into a medical condition that Jiménez is afflicted with, however, in the larger scheme of the art, this should not be considered a disability of any kind. He tells STIR: “My high hyperopia prevents me from seeing clearly when I take off my glasses. This act of “filtering reality” has always interested me, because it challenges memory and remembrance, in the face of images from the past. Do we visually filter our memories? How does reading big universal stories and small personal experiences change the passage of time? Do we see and imagine our time according to the technological devices of the moment? Such questions fascinate me deeply. I like my works to look like pips; failures in the file as a plastic resource; a loss of information which instead of canceling the image generates new questions before it.

Sorolla, 2021, Modeling clay on cut-out paper, Rafael Jiménez |  STIRworld
Sorolle, 2021, Modeling clay on cut-out paper Image: Courtesy of Rafael Jiménez

The artist has no precise order in his workflow and, late at night, works every day without forcing himself to decide what type of place or series a certain piece is intended for. He says it’s usually activated by looking at a pre-existing image or by recent reading. Sometimes conversations with other people also spark ideas that Jiménez will pursue in his practice. Other times, it is the simple pleasure of sitting down to explore his materials that guides the artist.

Girasoles, 2020, Modeling clay on paper, Rafael Jiménez |  STIRworld
Girasoles, 2020, Modeling clay on paper Image: Courtesy of Rafael Jiménez

When we engage in the work of the artist, we cannot help but feel a pang of sadness at the thought of fading and crumbling memories leaving us. And yet, beyond that, there is a layer of deep sincerity in Jiménez’s art: a kind of superior honesty about the nature of the human image that has been absent from portraiture in the broadest sense. Currently, alongside his artistic practice, Jiménez leads experimental painting and drawing workshops at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Creation and accompanies the Visual Arts residents of the Antonio Gala Foundation for young creators. He is also involved in curation work, which he undertakes with his partner Demetrio Salces. It remains to be seen how the artist’s practice will evolve further, however, when asked, he says, “Without a doubt, I want to move towards experimenting with audiovisual installation formats, while maintaining the base of my practice in painting and drawing. This will not only help me understand and further develop my practice, but also expand the ways in which I exhibit and relate my works to space. Creating music videos and even animated films in a small, independent format is also something that catches my eye as a goal to work on.

Portrait of Rafael Jiménez |  STIRworld
Artist Rafael Jiménez Image: Courtesy of Rafael Jiménez


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