DIALOGUE WITH THE ARTIST BÁRBARA SHUNYI
Mary Good. Give us a few brief brushstrokes of who you are and what you do. How did you get into the world of art?
Barbara Shunyi. I am a lover of paper in all its manifestations, especially related to engraving and origami. Paper is my life. I don’t know how I got into the art world because I think I was already in it. I don’t remember when I first thought I wanted to be an artist, maybe when I was 6 years old. The first anecdote I remember is from when I was 4 years old, in the infant classroom at school there was a small laminated easel in a corner with pages attached with thumbtacks and brushes and paints. When I entered the class I ran to the easel and began to paint, the other girls wanted to do it too, but every time one of them approached I would hit her to make her leave and I kept scribbling, since then I have not hit her again to nobody. At the age of 10 I did my first painting exhibition and I’m still learning.
Mary Good. You are an artist committed to the ecosystem, a pioneer in the use of non-toxic materials in engraving, can you tell us about your interests and how you link them to your artistic practice?
Barbara Shunyi. I have always wanted to live in a sustainable environment, both materially and spiritually (I need silence and beauty around me). To do this, I traveled to Edinburgh in 2000 to join the Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop and later expand my studies at the Grafisk Eksperimentarium in Copenhagen, both pioneering places of non-toxic printmaking in Europe. As a result of that year of study, I wrote my book “Non-toxic engraving at school” which was very successful, due to the lack of knowledge of this subject in Spain at that time.
Synopsis: Manual aimed at anyone who wants to make engraving with the peace of mind and awareness of using non-toxic materials, whether they are students, teachers, art enthusiasts, gallery owners, historians… and above all artists who wish to broaden their knowledge through use. of new materials and techniques. The language is clear and simple so that it can be understood by anyone who is interested in the exciting world of engraving, without it being necessary to have any previous knowledge on the subject. Illustrated with more than 100 photographs. Procedures explained step by step.
Since then I have applied everything I have learned to my graphic work, which includes not only engravings, but also sculpture, painting and installations. In turn, for more than 20 years, I have disseminated these less toxic techniques in many places both in Spain and abroad, reaching the present time in which they are no longer a novelty and are fully assumed in most workshops. of engraving, becoming something unquestionable in terms of procedures.
Mary Good. Among the projects and exhibitions you have carried out, which have been important and decisive? What kind of projects or proposals would you say yes to without blinking?
Barbara Shunyi. The last exhibition or project must always be the most important, because you do it the best you know how, putting all the meat on the grill, in this sense the exhibition project, entitled The Bastard Peawhich I currently have at the Takt Gallery in Berlin is the most important and, moreover, for the first time I am presenting this traumatic, intimate and personal theme:
The Bastard Pea:
You don’t need to come with me, it’s just a routine mammogram. Y…. HE was there, waiting, silent, hidden, he was the bastard pea. That was how my life took a turn and I became another woman with breast cancer. These works are a reflection of those feelings, I channel them through art. The surgeon, with great mastery, removed that “pea” from my body, but I am expelling it from my mind, from my head, while I draw, draw and draw.
Decisive was my first individual exhibition in Madrid at the Taller Mayor 28 in 1999, from there everything began to flow both nationally and internationally until today.
I would say yes without blinking an eye to any proposal that came from someone I trust because of his professional career and if he is also a friend without thinking about it. For example, now I am part of the project that Elena Jimenez is currently working on, which will surprise us and please us as usual.
Mary Good. Can you tell us about your recent recognition in Belgium?
Barbara Shunyi. This year 2022 I had the joy of receiving the second mention in the René Carcán International Engraving Award in Brussels. It is a biennial that has been held since 2014 of great prestige in the world of engraving. Of all the works that are presented from any corner of the planet, only 25 artists are part of the exhibition, among them they choose the prizes. On this occasion these were the 25 selected: Rik Buter (Holland) – Bárbara Shunyí (Spain) – Victor Manuel Hernández Castillo (Mexico) – Cécile Rescan (France) – Cynthia Back (Portugal) – David Maes (France) – Robyn Moore ( United States) – Peili Huang (Taiwan) – Stephen Lawlor (Ireland) – Carmen Isasi (Spain) – Nicole d’Herbais de Thun (Belgium) – Georges Amerlynck (Belgium) – Malgorzata Chomicz (Italy) – Eeva Huotari (Finland) – Małgorzata Stanielewicz (Poland) – François Gousset (Belgium) – Pieter lerooij (Belgium) – Olesya Dzhurayeva (Ukraine) – Jean Paul Ruiz (France) – Paul Diemunsch (France) – Guy Langevin (Canada) – Marine Février (France) – Hyejeong Kwon (South Korea) – Pascal Jaminet (Belgium) – Elisabeth Bronitz (Belgium).
Mary Good. Does your line of work establish a connection to your own identity, to who you are? If so, do you think art is transformative?
Barbara Shunyi. Of course yes. In my work I am with all its consequences and lately even more with what I am living that I have commented before, to which is added the death of my parents in the pandemic. I feel lucky to be able to channel feelings through art, as therapy, and I am also very happy with the recent results. Art transforms us into better people.
Mary Good. Referents… Of the artists.
Barbara Shunyi. The Spanish Elena Jimenez and the Chinese/Canadian Fred Liang, whom I admire as artists and, more importantly, I am a friend of both of them, which makes them a reference with whom you can talk and exchange impressions.
Mary Good. A collective.
Barbara Shunyi. MAV.
Maria Good. artistic proposal
Barbara Shunyi. The artist residence in Cádiz EVA art House.
Maria Good. An event that has marked you.
Barbara Shunyi. The Estampa engraving fair in its early years. We were a big family who met in Madrid once a year and we could discuss our latest work exhibited at the fair. It was very enriching.
Maria Good. A curator, cultural space and artistic trend.
Barbara Shunyi. A curator: Bruto Pomeroy (director of the El Viajero Alado gallery and the film school of the University of Cádiz) for his unconditional support and good eye when curating. A cultural space, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Artistic trend: abstraction.
Maria Good. A movie, a book, a song and a landscape.
Barbara Shunyi. A movie: “Night on Earth” by Jim Jarmusch. A book: “I invite you to a mojito” by Paka Díaz and Mabel Lozano, they deal with the issue of breast cancer from a friendly and conciliatory position with life itself, reading it has helped me a lot. One song: “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. An inspiring landscape, in nature, any small insect that allows itself to be observed.
Mary Good. What clichés, idealizations and stereotypes do you think we fall into when we advocate for diversity and inclusion that, deep down, does not materialize? How can we disable them?
Barbara Shunyi. Stereotypes are inevitable, but we must be aware of their influence. And in the current context, the media and social networks have a lot of responsibility when it comes to perpetuating or breaking down these stereotypes. We must be careful not to participate in them.
Mary Good. What connects us creative women in the Spanish artistic context? What do you think makes it easier for us to come together and come together?
Barbara Shunyi. We are connected by enthusiasm and the desire to do things, to meet, to understand each other and to be understood, not to stop, despite the everyday that slows us down, which characterizes many of us.
Collectives like MAV are a great opportunity to exchange experiences and connect with each other, their creation is a great idea.
Mary Good. What strategies do you think allow us to alleviate the needs and difficulties in this current context?
Barbara Shunyi. The main strategy is collaboration between us, unity is strength.
Maria Good. Can you tell us something about your upcoming projects?
Barbara Shunyi. The work of The Bastard Pea it will move I have a couple of international exhibitions that are taking place and I still don’t have to count. On the other hand, in the purely technical field, in the workshop, I have resumed my research on non-toxic engraving, which does not stop evolving and I am preparing my second book on this subject that I am passionate about.