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Paula Bonet: "We're Not Allowing Ourselves to Enjoy or Suffer from the Here and Now Anymore"

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Translation by:

Samantha Kellogg


Halfway be­tween nos­tal­gia and op­ti­mism, blue's tran­quil­ity and red's strength trap us in the cre­ative uni­verse of Paula Bonet, the Va­len­cian il­lus­tra­tor that has found the best gallery for get­ting closer to the pub­lic is the In­ter­net. We talk with her about arm­less houses, paper prawns and her new book, writ­ten and il­lus­trated en­tirely by her.

Con­tem­plat­ing an il­lus­tra­tion of the fa­mous Paula Bonet means tak­ing a look at your­self and, on ocas­sion, stay­ing to re­flect. Stand­ing still in front of a mir­ror in which a woman mends a heart, her heart, ask­ing it never to end and an­other woman knots an­other's red­dish hair, also long but darker, that she just found, by ac­ci­dent, at home in the shower. "The quan­tity of im­ages that we con­sume daily and the speed at which every­thing hap­pens doesn't allow us to stop for a mo­ment and enjoy - or suf­fer, or sim­ply be con­scious - of the here and now," claims Paula Bonet (Vila-real, 1980), who just pub­lished her first book, nar­rated and sketched en­tirely by her.

While she worked with im­ages and text upon the same medium some time ago, "try­ing to make them need each other", in What you should do when The End ap­pears on the dis­play (Lun­werg Ed­i­tors, 2014), has fi­nally given free reign to her two artis­tic pas­sions to "weave some­thing less im­me­di­ate, more cul­ti­vated, where il­lus­tra­tions and lit­er­a­ture merge and cre­ate a more con­scious whole," she re­lates. "This work may have an im­plied nar­ra­tive lib­er­a­tion," the au­thor con­cludes to the mag­a­zine Cafébabel.

Arm­less houses, paper prawns and oceans of grief

The 0.5 mil­lime­ter lead, the Chi­nese ink or the brush-strokes of aqua­ma­rine and red wa­ter­color, that sin­gled out Bonet's style so much, coat each one of the forty sto­ries that this book har­bours.

Some sto­ries are nos­tal­gic, like the one about that house which ap­pears to have am­pu­tated an arm be­cause you are no longer, oth­ers are am­bigu­ous like the one where a  woman who got used to ask­ing for a table for one and that fi­nally noticed, what a face and what a smile, the per­son sit­ting in the op­po­site, empty seat had, or more witty and salty sto­ries like the one with that boy that liked prawns so much, he ended up eat­ing a paper one. Bonet con­fesses that she has a tough time de­cid­ing be­tween her own draw­ings, maybe "mak­ing an ef­fort" and drift­ing by her "most pri­vate" work, she could se­lect the il­lus­tra­tion for the male char­ac­ter in How to cross a river (story num­ber 12). It al­ready per­son­i­fies "a friend that dis­ap­peared early" and that, when­ever she can, likes to re­mem­ber. The woman flooded by the ocean and the an­i­mals that in­habit it, in the piece, Weep­ing oceans that stay in­side you (story num­ber 36) is an­other of her fa­vourites. "This il­lus­tra­tion started a new pe­riod in my work," she ex­plains. De­spite her artis­tic train­ing hav­ing been con­cen­trated in oil paint­ing and etch­ing - hand en­grav­ing, lith­o­g­ra­phy and wood en­grav­ing, it was the year 2009 when she threw her­self into ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in the field of il­lus­tra­tion. The can­vases ex­pired for her. "Mak­ing pic­tures was my way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with some­body and I needed to buy time. I couldn't spend three days on one idea that ex­pressed some­thing that seemed im­por­tant to me at that mo­ment," she points out.

Be­tween tran­qulity and strength

Al­most im­me­di­ately, the strokes that Paula Bonet's work demon­strates so much of started to ap­pear, the use of red hues, that she her­self as­so­ci­ates with blood, vi­tal­ity, and strength: or the tact of each de­tail, like the care with which she outlines her pro­tag­o­nist's hair. How­ever, she main­tains that she has a tough time the­o­ris­ing about her cre­ations, yet, the ma­jor­ity of end­ings make up more a part of the shape than the con­tents. "When I draw I try to tell a story, the theme of hair care, for ex­am­ple, it's all anec­do­tal," she notes.

When the peo­ple at Vila-real pub­lish one of her pic­tures on so­cial net­works, re­ac­tions are im­me­di­ate. Ear­lier this week, 814 likes three sec­onds after shar­ing the sketch for a poster on her In­sta­gram ac­count. "The In­ter­net isn't the best art gallery that I've been able to ex­hibit my work in, but it is what has brought me clos­est to the pub­lic. The Web has got­ten all the gal­leries' struc­ture, just as I un­der­stood it when I stud­ied Fine Arts, to tot­ter and it was forced to rein­vent it­self."

It's this new gen­er­a­tions of cre­ators, Paula Bonet specif­i­cally em­pha­sises, that could pre­dict a par­a­digm shift in the essence of Art. The gen­er­a­tion that could, per­haps, put an end to to the elit­ism that has al­ways been linked to this dis­ci­pline

Translated from Paula Bonet: "Ya no nos permitimos disfrutar o sufrir del aquí y ahora"