From London to New York via e-mail we speak with Spanish born artist, Silvia Prada, about her ultimate book THE NEW MODERN HAIR: A STYLING CHART and the current role of the female artist.
One of the characteristics for what Spanish people are known worldwide is ,apart our high-energy, partying mood ( and who doesn’t?!), the quality of being such a chatty people. Silvia and I have never met in real life -or maybe internet is the new real life?- So I cannot really tell you if she is. However the visual discourse in her work is highly recognizable, exposing pop and geometrical elements where the collision between them are able to hold an optical conversation. In her last adventure The Modern Hair: A Styling Chart, Prada pays her personal homepage to the barbershops and its hairstyles, instructions included. Each hair-trend establishes a visual conversation against geometrical constructivist shapes alike.
Hey Silvia, how are you doing?
Im good! Looking forward for August to end…It’s been a long HOT month!
Are you in NY right now?
Yes, in the East Village, where I live and work with my wife Kim Ann.
How did the idea of THE NEW MODERN HAIR: A STYLING CHART come up?
Usually, most of my ideas are based on specific research. As a thematic discourse, I have a fascination with homoerotic culture, and this time, I looked back to beautiful portraits and hair styles of men from the 50s, 60s and early 70s. My father is a hair stylist in Spain, and I spent a lot of time in his salon growing up. I was constantly exposed to hairstyle magazines and men’s beauty products, so this is inevitably quite personal for me. I guess this experience is what has cultivated my fascination with male beauty. Over the years, I have come across some beautiful and fascinating vintage barbershop portraits, which recently prompted me to thoroughly investigate that specific genre for this project.
Can you tell us what it is the book about?
The book is a chart of hair styles as i mentioned, but unquestionably it is an artist book, so the idea of a narrative in the traditional sense doesn’t hold with this project. It is my artistic representation of the subject and a statement about individualism and choice, but in a very romantic sense.
I’ve read it is a homage of the barbershop…
Yes, it is. Barbershops encapsulate a whole world of images, products, magazines and visual cues. It’s a proper POP environment.
Each hairstyle does come with its instruction. So could you say that each hairstyle determine a different psychological profile?
Well that would be fun. The relationship between hair and self identification is very intriguing. However, hair is a part of our body that we use to express who we are, and unfortunately hair can lie!
The illustrations of men’s hairstyles are against Bauhaus and 80’s like geometrical drawings. This sort of visual dialogue has become in one of the statements of your work…
Yes, definitely. Geometry is a constant element of my artistic discourse and plays a larger role in my language as a POP artist. Although non-referential, it is something that brings perspective to my art, and within the context of art history and reinforces my manifesto of encapsulating POP.
What drew you to illustration?
A HEAVY multi-media overdose in the late 90s.
Why is pop culture one of the biggest influences in your art work?
When I decided to become an artist I had to be honest with my visual language. POP was a natural choice for me. All the elements, language and structure of my work is my personal take on culture and iconography. It is the dialogue between my perspective and the grander scope that interests me and is unique to my visual education.
What other living female artists are you inspired by?
All of them! I love Shirin Neshat, Guerilla Girls, Maripol, Marisol Escobar, of course Yayoi Kusama, Elisabet Peyton, Orlan….Well, I have to say ALL OF THEM!
Would you say that the role of the female artist is not as prominent as the male artist?
The domination of male artists is such a contradiction given that there are no gender barriers in order to become artist. It is due to machoism, male ego and discrimination, and I’m not sure that things are improving.
How do you approach the recent and sad episode of the punk band Pussy Riot?
It´s devastating and still hard to believe that people are still being prosecuted for expression. In this day and age, and with all the media exposure, it is shocking.
Going back to The Modern Hair: A Styling Chart which it has been self-published by cultureEdit and yourself. How did you find the experience? Will you carry on self publishing your books in the future?
It was a great experience working with Joakim from CultureEdit, who also edited the book. The support was amazing and I will definitely publish more books in the future. Books are a very POP-Friendly medium and in many ways more intimate than the original work itself.
As a final point: What is next in Silvia Prada’s world?
Next is another book, a t-shirt project and an exhibition. But most importantly, I want to enjoy life as much as I can with my wife.
Silvia Prada, THE NEW MODERN HAIR: A STYLING CHART, limited edition and numbered book and foldout poster, available online at cultureEDIT (www.culture-edit.com), Opening Ceremony, (MALIN+GOETZ) and a selection of book stores.
Text: Lara Antonioni