Combine flamenco with action painting and things might get messy. Spanish artist Patricio Hidalgo Morán invented a performing art called ‘live-action-flamenco-painting’.
With sure strokes Patricio splatters black ink onto white canvas to create flamenco singers, dancers, guitarists and poetic imagery, carried by the rhythm and emotion of flamenco music. There is no official term for what Patricio Hidalgo does.
Video: Patricio Hidalgo on stage, dancing and painting, with flamenco group ‘Expeditie Flamenco’ at the Dutch Flamenco Biennial 2015.
Patricio grew up surrounded by flamenco and is an all-round artist who paints, creates videos, plays flamenco guitar and moreover – as you can see in the video above- he occasionally joins in on a little flamenco dancing too.
In 2012 Patricio directed the flamenco show DESEO with dancer Rosario Toledo and went to London with dancer Belén Maya in 2016. His series Trazos Flamencos (‘Flamenco strokes’) has been exhibited at several international flamenco festivals.
Last fall, I met up with Patricio in Seville, Spain to update this interview, which I originally wrote for Dutch flamenco magazine Mundo Flamenco. What fascinates me is how Patricio infuses excitement into a performance by painting live, on stage, performing like any other flamenco artist, by reacting immediately to the music and dance. How does he do it?
“I always react to what the paint does, it decides which way to go. I don’t have a preconceived concept in mind when I start, because it kills the moment. I keep my ideas open in order to feel what I paint.”
“My performances are usually not rehearsed. But I do know how to paint a flamenco singer for example, and in that sense I have been preparing for years. It is just that when the paint splatters in an unexpected way, I have to change the image on the spot.”
“Painting and flamenco is something you have to live“
“I don’t paint like this, just to do something new or extravagant, but in order to establish a dialogue with the audience. Direct communication in the present moment is what matters to me most. The silence that subsequently occurs, means that the audience is paying attention. And that moves me.”
“Painting and flamenco to me is something you have to live. When I was an art student, I mostly hung out with friends on the street and didn’t go to class much. On the street is where I experienced a lot of flamenco and I often literally shared the canvas with other artists.”
Famous surrealist artist Salvador Dalí was actually the first one to paint on stage with flamenco artists in 1965 (see Salvador Dalí was a flamenco action painter), but he had nothing on Patricio Hidalgo when it comes to really knowing flamenco.
“A great source of inspiration for me is painter and flamenco poet Francisco Moreno Galván (1925-1999). He had a very traditional way of painting, but at the same time was very avant-garde. He used to paint in black and white a lot, like I do now, and worked with the ‘splatter’ technique too. Black and white conveys sobriety and sincerity, like the ‘cante jondo’, the deep-felt and traditional singing that flamenco song originated from.”
Painter and flamenco poet Francisco Moreno Galván, Photo © unknown, pueblacazalla.org.caption
“Black and white conveys sobriety and sincerity, like cante jondo“
“Moreno Galván’s aesthetics were rooted in this ‘cante jondo‘, and so is my art. He connected the painterly ‘splatter’ with the ‘grito’, which is the ‘cry’ or ‘lament’ of the flamenco singer, that is often expressed without words or with a resounding ‘ay’. For me this flamenco ‘cry’ is very abstract and conveys a lot of things, despite not having any form in words.”
“Flamenco singing is not only about the lyrics that a singer uses. He can express himself with sounds that don’t seem to have any comprehendible form at all, and nevertheless manage to touch you. Just like the flamenco singer’s lament, I try to catch emotions in the ‘splatter’ of paint. Both emotion and the painterly splatter are abstract and communicate very directly.”
La Isla Bonita
Patricio Hidalgo Morán (1979) grew up with flamenco on the Spanish island of Ibiza in the eighties.
“There was always flamenco music around the house. We used to get together often with family and friends in our country house. It was like a small commune. My father played the guitar and, being an aficionado, he carried the tradition of flamenco with him from his town of birth La Puebla de Cazalla, in Southern Spain.”
“A lot of Spanish people emigrated at that time, looking for work in tourism and wanting to enjoy the beauty of the island. So did the flamenco aficionados and professionals. I attended a lot of flamenco parties with guitarists like Dieguito de Morón or Paco del Gastor.”
Patricio ‘El Pintaor’
Patricio Hidalgo Morán in front of a mural he painted in Tablao Los Gallos, Seville. Photo © Hannet Engel.
I think it is safe to say that Patricio Hidalgo is a flamenco artist. He even has a nickname to prove it: Patricio ‘el Pintaor’, a combination of the Spanish word for painter (pintor) with an extension at the end, indicating that he is a flamenco artist, like a cantaor (singer), tocaor (guitarist), or bailaor (dancer).
Live action painting mixed with flamenco is a unique and new combination, but when I suggest that Patricio is the latest trend in flamenco, he laughs.
“Well, I have been dedicated to this work for over seventeen years already, so it is more than just a whim of mine. And you better not call it a trend anyway, because trends go to pass.”
Flamenco Artworks says: let’s hope the trend of flamenco action painting catches on and stays on! What do you think? Leave your comments below!
Read more on Patricio Hidalgo in my post Flamenco entertainment- LIVE from Seville, Spain.