The multidisciplinary artist introduces us to his new passion: crazy ceramics.

Art is only abandoned, it is never finished,” said Leonardo DaVinci, a figure as capitalized as it is curious, and the young artist Ismael Portilla never leaves anything aside, especially if it is a true passion. Art has always been part of his life and he has given himself completely to it, working as a designer, architect, and curator. Now he has decided to start a new creative stage marked by his rupture not only with his own past but also with the traditional cultural panorama in order to transgress social molds through the exploration of a new form of expression: ceramics. Marked by an irreverent technique, Ismael presents us exclusively and with photos of Edrien Vongato, the new and exclusive pieces of his that do not want to leave anyone indifferent.

Ismael, you define yourself as a designer, architect, and curator, tell me why you have decided to investigate ceramics.

It starts off in the most innocent way. During a walk through the Lavapiés neighborhood, I came across a workshop where they taught lathe courses. Despite walking distracted, I had been looking for new ways to express myself creatively for some time and curiosity led me to go in and register to teach with Adri, the owner. I did not propose anything more than to investigate freely and without much pressure the classic forms of the ceramic wheel. Of course with little success at first and a little more interesting after a few classes. Ceramics is an amazing material since working with the kiln and being new to the discipline, I often have no way of knowing how the final product will turn out. The pieces are an unexpected color, and some part has decided to fall off or simply explodes. Even so, every time a new piece comes out I always consider it a finished object. It is a very liberating activity for a person who tends to overcontrol creative processes.

What do you think these new pieces say about yourself as a person and an artist?

These pieces are part of a process of formal search and experimentation with new materials and techniques for me. As a creative, I needed to take this period to -simply- investigate.

I understand that you consider that we are currently living in a revolution similar to the one that occurred during the last century, where do you perceive that revolution?

Deciphering the present, or trying to do it, is for me one of our greatest challenges as a generation. The last century served to shape the world we have inherited. The avant-garde and positivism triumphed, but now that world is collapsing and is no longer valid. I think that our time is more suggestive in art and particularly in its production methods, where research is carried out more and more freely between disciplines and with new techniques. However, as interesting as the present may be, I think it is important to assume the responsibility that we have to create something new and “good”. Therefore, if we have to reinvent society in a new global, ecological context… We have to assume, perhaps, that art is less and less independent and autistic with respect to the environment.

Don’t you think we are living in an artistic moment where experimentation prevails?

For me, art has to be necessarily linked to experimentation. However, our time is the age of remixes and samples. The object of the experiment moves more and more towards achieving new discourses with pre-existing objects, aesthetics, and pieces. For me, this is exciting because it gives rise to new readings about reality and moves away from a period in which experimentation resulted in more genuine but also more closed and independent discourses.

With this collection, you start a new stage in your more independent and expressive career, why?

This collection is about a project in which it was important for me to have the freedom to create these pieces independently. As a designer, I have been training for the last two years in 20th-century furniture and I feel that I need to apply everything that I have been absorbing into my own pieces. As it was a self-commissioned project, I didn’t have the need to publish it at a specific moment, that’s where Edrien and Jorge came in with their enormous capacity and creativity to stay one afternoon at Casantillón and take these photos.

You say you have distanced yourself from conventional artistic circles, what exactly do you mean?

As an architect, from the moment you start your studies, they tell you how wide the range of architecture is. I finished my degree talking about art and new spaces for artistic creation. Experimenting with curating and exhibition design. Later, with the Casantillón collective, we returned to architectural and furniture design, always moving between the three disciplines with great freedom. That is why step by step this distancing has been taking place, although it seems to me that it is something not exclusively mine but rather generational.

Would you say that it is necessary to break with the past to create something new?

Perhaps it is not so important to break with the past but to learn from it. That is what I was referring to earlier in the question about the 20th century. The vanguards sought to break with a tradition to project a completely new present. Seeing the result that that period left behind, it seems important to look back to firmly build what is to come.

They are also making a prototype of an armchair chest, where did this idea come from?

It’s again part of the idea of freely mixing and associating references and ideas. In this chair, I wanted to reproduce a type of medieval seat that has now been lost, a trunk throne. The aesthetic of metallic wood as if they were swords and upcycled denim is part of a process in which I tried to achieve a mixture of textures with materials that were not necessarily intended for furniture design. I’m happy with the result, it’s like Guillaume et Chambron but in the COD.

Where are the creative limits for Ismael López Portilla?

I refer to a lesson from my friend Emmanuel who always says that each project has its own limits and the virtue lies in knowing how to play with them.

You are part of the artistic collective “Casantillon”, what would you say this group of artists brings to the current scene in Spain?

With Casantillón we seek to tie ties between the disciplines of design, architecture, and art. On a social scale, right now we are developing a project that I am passionate about: An artistic residency for 2023 in which 5 emerging artists who have never had a solo exhibition will have the opportunity to work for two months in the studio and develop a proposal which will later be exhibited in the gallery that we have inaugurated in the basement. Our job, and that of a whole team of professionals from the art world, will be to guide these new artists in their first solo show, to take the first steps in the artist’s difficult career.

Photography @edrienguillermo
Styling @jorgeariza using his own clothes
Talent @ismaelopezportilla