I’m from Córdoba, Argentina. Ninety percent of the Argentinians you meet outside of Argentina are going to be from Buenos Aires, so I always stress the fact that I’m not. I don’t want to be like everybody else. Plus, Córdoba is a beautiful town. It’s located inland, and people are quieter and more down-to-earth, even though it is a university town. The National University of Córdoba is actually the oldest university in Argentina.
I left Argentina because, although the culture is similar to Barcelona, it’s not as international. Everyone looks the same, dresses the same and is looking for the same things in life. If you are a little bit different from that standard—if you are gay or an artist—it’s like ‘Whoa, he’s so strange’. And don’t even try to be a vegetarian there. People will think you’re purposely trying to be original. They wonder why you can’t just be like everyone else and eat meat.
For me, Europe is small. Everything is close together, and you can travel to many places without much money. In 2006, I was travelling around Europe and I chose Barcelona to be my next home. I chose it over all the other cities I had visited. In this way, I feel as though I am more from here than people who were born here. They were just stuck in this city, whereas I controlled my own destiny.
I will always love to travel. I’m a bit of a workaholic, but travelling forces me to take a break from work and clear my head. I think life is too short to see the same places over and over again, though, which is why I never go back to Argentina. If I go home, I know exactly what it’s going to be like. I want to spend my time in places that will provide a completely different experience.
I started making art as a hobby. Today people call me an artist, and I don’t correct them, but in my head I think ‘it’s just a hobby’. When I first came to Barcelona, I tried to find a job based on my studies as an industrial designer. I went to a few interviews, but it was the beginning of the crisis and there was no work. I knew I wanted to create something different every day. When it comes to art, you can do that with just a piece of paper. This idea led me to open my first gallery six and a half years ago.
The photo boxes are my own unique creations. At least I haven’t seen anyone else making anything like them. I originally got the idea because my mum asked me to send her a picture of my house. I sent her the door of my home in El Born, but I knew she would also want a peek inside. A friend of mine asked me to do the same for his shop—take a photo of the outside then cut out part of the view to see a shot of the interior. Then I wanted to capture the view out of my window, but with the shutters still in the frame. They progressively got better from there. Now I have 2,000 different views. The possibilities are endless in a city like this. There are so many iconic storefronts, gates covered in graffiti, impressive views, beautiful buildings, etc. People love them for this reason. They can take home a real piece of Barcelona.
Now there are three galleries, which are also studios where you can actually see artists at work. At the first location on Portal Nou, we do all the paintings that you see in the exhibition spaces, and we put together the photographs of buildings and interiors for the layered shadow boxes of Barcelona. In the Carders gallery, we make the box frames for those photos, cutting the wood, sanding and varnishing it. And on Petritxol, we assemble the surrealist collages. I think of all three galleries as installations, really, where our art transforms people’s perceptions of these locations around Barcelona.
Another part of my vision was to create spaces where people can see that our art is handmade. I mean, you can’t see the exact process. If you saw every step that goes into it, the art would lose its mystery. But you can see that what you’re going to buy wasn’t made in China.
I create art to see people’s reactions to it. The expression on their faces or the way they instinctively reach out to touch it. It’s not always about making money. I love offering something that people feel they can’t walk away from. I can tell those who really love the art because they don’t ask how much it is before they’re ready to purchase it. It’s a capricho. They just buy it on a whim. They don’t need it—I’m not selling food or clothes—but they have to have it.
If you walk by, the doors of the galleries are always open. If it’s raining or it’s winter, the doors are still open. The gallery on Carders doesn’t even have a door, just the metal gate we close at the end of the day. I don’t want that barrier between art and people on the street. I don’t want people to feel obliged to buy something by coming inside. Tourists and locals alike can just wander in, listen to the music, watch the toy trains going round and round and talk to me if they like. And then if they want to buy something, great. I think people can really feel the different vibe we try to create.