Inés Batlló is a Catalan artist whose works have been shown in Germany, Holland, France, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Texas, where she currently resides. As her paintings and other works bridge the divide between two worlds, the old and new, combining and celebrating the cultures and traditions of Europe and the Americas, so does her work combine various media, both old and new, from charcoal to Photoshop. Her work blends calm and ethereal Iberian mystery with earth hued Pan-American eroticism, yet resonates emotionally with a singular and unique power.
Inés was born in Barcelona in August of 1957. Her father was a very talented artist, but despite him dying when she was only one, his example and the ubiquitous and weighty presence of his artist’s easel encouraged young Inés to pick up the artist’s brush. Throughout her life Inés has always painted, but she has also worked with sculpture and ceramics. Following her education in Barcelona, she lent her talents to designing sets, costumes, and props to various theatrical, film, and television productions. She worked extensively in Spanish television for a variety of corporate clients which include Coca-Cola, Camy Freixenet, and others from the mid-eighties to the early nineties. It was during her stint working in television that Inés discovered graphic software and learned how pushing pixels and manipulating vectors could be a new way to explore creativity and thereby create unique works of art.
Having worked in digital media for a few years in Spain, Inés sought greener pastures and bigger opportunities for her talents and decided to take the trek westward across the Atlantic and settle in Austin, Texas, where she learned new skills and practiced them for a variety of clients such as National Center of Farmworkers Health, Inc, S.C.I., Scruffy’s, and Aescala. It was during this flush of activity that Inés returned to her first love of painting, wanting to get her hands dirty, touching the physical plane of the canvas rather than tapping keys and mouse clicks. However, Inés did not totally forsake the digital realm. As she used to create physical drawings as a base and jumping off point for her digital work, scanning the drawing and then manipulating the colors and textures, adding layers, editing light and dark, now the converse is true. She plays with ideas and creates images on the computer and then uses the print out as a plan for her canvas.
Inés’ work counters the misguided notion that art derived from digital media is cold, brittle, and lacking in humanity. An artist should use any and every tool at his or her disposal. But Inés succeeds where other artists fall short. Perhaps it is her Mediterranean soulfulness and sense of sophisticated adventure that permeates her work which belies its digital roots, but no matter what route the artist took to reach her final destination, the end result is wholly warm and organic. And it is wholly Inés Batlló.
Inés works out of her studio in Austin, Texas which was a four-year process for her to design and build. From this studio she teaches encaustic for Little Artist Big Artist, a nonprofit program by Chula.
Inés’ source of inspiration is life. “My sources change as life does, and creativity goes hand in hand with the course of my life. I love to create. Art changes me for the better and I try to deliver a message with light. Forces of life, perception, emotions and feelings are main sources of creation for me. I teach to my art students to use the guts to create in order to connect and to develop empathy. By empathy I am able to do portraits of people without seeing them. I carry them inside. I have used this method of feeling and focus to paint, sculpt, or draw, and once the connection flows it almost seems that there is another force — the one that moves my hand.
For Inés, a body of work gets coherent when a concept is behind it. Her latest concept/ collection is Reading. Books have been treasured in her house and by her family for generations. “After doing the collection Wisdom, I was in Barcelona for a while to receive chemo for breast cancer. I was staying at my mother’s house where I grew up. My mother reads and reads just as my grandfather did. I decided to create the Reading collection as a homage to the books, the writers and the lectors in my family. After all, the difference between the animal kingdom and humans is not the ability of using tools as they used to say, it’s the ability of representing a language.”
In the last five years the concepts Inés has worked with in addition to Reading are Memories, Forces of Life, Wisdom and Migration.
January’s Artist Monthly featured the late and great Sander Witlin.
Cover photo: Courtesy of the artist