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Interview: 10 minutes with Raquel Alvarez Sardina

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This autumn season we're thrilled to welcome back Raquel Alvarez Sardina as our headline artist with her new collection of still life paintings. Born in Barcelona and now based in Gloucestershire, Raquel is interested in the beauty of nature; by its form, its colour and texture, positioning objects next to her window to make the most of the natural light. In her darker paintings, she is inspired by old masters and tries to emulate a candlelit atmosphere. 

At the age of seventeen she joined Academia Leonardo da Vinci, Florence and in 1986 she started a degree in Fine Arts. Whilst completing her degree she joined the studios of artists Sant Vicens and Boter/Santalo and attended a drawing course at Academia Lorenzo de Medici in Florence. After graduating she came to England where she studied a Masters Degree in Fine Art at Cardiff University. 

We caught up with Raquel to find out more about the inspiration for her current collection and to find out more about her artistic style.

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How and when did you first discover you could paint?

I discovered I could paint when I won a painting competition in my primary school at the age of 9. I started taking painting seriously from the age of 15.

What’s your favourite technique and why?

Oil painting has always been my favourite technique. It’s the best medium to work with transparencies, glazes and impasto all in the same painting.


 

Raquel painting in her studio, 2017 

What inspires your work?

I am interested by the beauty of nature, by its form, colour and texture. Generally I prefer natural light to artificial light due to the way it affects colour. I try to position objects next to a window when planning my compositions. In my darker paintings, I am inspired by Old Masters and the past and I am trying to emulate a candlelit atmosphere.

How has your artistic style changed over the years?

My style has developed rather than changed. I feel I paint with more confidence and a greater understanding of the topic matter and technique.

Tell us about your studio space.

I have a studio at the end of my garden with a further space to store drying and completed paintings, this is important to ensure that the studio remains free from the fumes of oil paints. Half my studio is painted dark grey, a colour that is neutral and absorbs light. This creates the best environment for chiaroscuro style painting.

Raquel painting in her studio, 2017

Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?

The ‘Quince Tree’ because of the scale and complexity of the subject matter. As this was painted live in my garden - it becomes very personal.

Quince Tree, 100 x 110 cm, oil on linen, £5,950

What’s been your career highlight?

I have been invited to exhibit in Arcadia Contemporary in Los Angeles, among some of the most renowned artists working today. The president of American Art Award Thom Bierdz writes in Highlight Hollywood Magazine that, “the art that Arcadia Contemporary Galleries exhibits is representational, skilled and accomplished”.  Steve Diamant, President of Arcadia Fine Arts Gallery also states in an interview in Pastimes for a Lifetime, “The goal of the gallery is to show, within the realm of realism, artists who are extraordinarily skilled, but also have a unique, individual style and are very different from any other artist we already represent.”

In 2016, HRH Princess Michael of Kent presented me with The President and Vice President’s Choice Award for the Best Work of Art in the Society of Women Artists Exhibition, Mall Galleries, London. Daphne Todd OBE was a member of the selection panel.

The best piece of artistic advice or constructive criticism you have ever been given.

Always paint what you feel and be true to yourself regardless of the fashion.

Raquel working on 'Quince Tree' in her garden, 2017

Whose work do you most admire?

The Spanish artist Zurbarán and Sanchez Cotán are the artists that I most admire and from which I get my inspiration. They place objects and fruit in a dark background often on a mantelpiece; this used to be the way of storing fruit and vegetables in the past. The way they paint simple fruit or vegetables goes beyond technical skill, their paintings are full of soul and emotion and rich in spirituality.

I am constantly exploring and studying other masters. At the moment I am concentrating on the way light flows in the portraits of Rembrandt and of English artists like Henry Raeburn and Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

What can we expect from your new headline show at the Biscuit Factory?

Preparing a solo show for the Cube Gallery is very demanding and challenging. I hope people admire the quality of my work and at the same time feel the emotions that went into creating it.


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Raquel Alvarez Sardina's headline collection is showing at The Biscuit Factory from Friday 8 September until 12 November. Raquel's collection is also available to view and buy online here.

For enquiries please contact a member of our team on art@thebiscuitfactory.com