June’s Manc of the Month is none other than Carlos Ferg! If you came along to our own exhibition ‘In Manchester’ you may recognise Carlos’ phenomenal work, and he was crowned the winner of Best Piece competition, judged by our panel and the public too. Originally from Spain, Carlos studied Art History at university before pursuing a career outside of the creative industry, but always had a passion for drawing and art. Now, Carlos has exhibited his work in galleries across the UK and Europe and has sold his work globally.
Read on to find out what he’s got to say!
Cotton On MCR: Please introduce yourself and your art to our Cotton On MCR readers.
Carlos Ferg: ‘My name is Carlos Ferg, I am a Spanish artist and have been based in Manchester for the last ten years. My training is more theoretical than practical as I studied History of Art at University and not Fine Arts as you may expect for an artist. The practice came a long time later when I began to develop my painting for myself and a theoretical basis helped enormously, especially in terms of composition. I started painting about ten years ago, although the last five years have been the most productive in terms of creating a more serious project focused on developing my career as an artist.
‘As for my work, it basically develops through two different themes. I began working mainly with urban landscapes, trying to develop the idea of loneliness and existential emptiness, hence the intentional absence of people in the paintings and making it so the observer himself experiences the idea of loneliness in the first person. At the beginning of the pandemic I decided to start working on more figurative themes, based on the symbolist paintings of the 19th century and questioning the concept of gender equality in today’s society. I aim to explore whether the patriarchal societies of the past have evolved enough to more egalitarian societies capable of guaranteeing the rights of all individuals equally, regardless of the gender that represents us.’
COM: What inspired you to get into painting?
CF: ‘Art has always been a constant in my life since I was little. At school I was good at drawing, it was something I did naturally and throughout my life I developed it more or less constantly, always with the underlying idea of learning how to paint. My mother always encouraged me to paint, since there was always an artistic streak on her side of the family. It was only when my parents passed away ten years ago that I decided to learn to paint on
my own in honour of their memory.’
COM: Tell us some more about the winning piece. What is the story behind it?
CF: ‘It is a re-working of the classical Greek literature of Homer’s Odyssey where a mermaid manipulates the will of fearful sailors. In classical literature, mermaids were represented with the body of a bird and the head of a woman or man. During the 19th century there were many representations of Ulysses and the sirens, portraying how women are able to subdue the will of men as they wish and exploring the theme of the ‘femme fatale’ seen from a purely patriarchal point of view. My aim here is to question this theme again, and if modern day society has evolved in aspects relating to gender equality.’
COM: How long did this piece take for you to paint? Tell us about your process, does a piece like this begin as sketch?
CF: ‘Generally each work takes me around a month or a month and a half depending on the composition and level of detail. My style is realistic in form but not in content. Each work begins digitally through the computer where I create an initial composition. There I see if the work has compositional balance and if it can work later on the canvas. From there, I usually develop an initial sketch in pencil, although not always, to familiarise myself with the compositional elements and from there I transfer the sketch to the canvas. Sometimes I skip this first step and start directly on the canvas, always working with the original digital image. The next step is applying the layers of colour. There are two elements in my work that are essential, drawing and light. The drawing is the basis of everything, it is what gives meaning to the work, and the light gives personality to the work.’
COM: What are your thoughts on Manchester’s art scene?
CF: ‘I think the art scene in Manchester has grown in the last few years. I have not lived here long enough to make a more extensive assessment, but in the ten years I have been here there has been a notable development, perhaps due to the rise of social networks, which have contributed to a greater dissemination of content and have given more recognition and visual diffusion. In particular I think that there’s a lot of creative talent in Manchester and there are structures in place to encourage its development, especially through creative studies that greatly promote further growth of the cultural and artistic scene here. There’s a well-established organization of events and exhibitions, which keeps this cultural and artistic scene alive. Manchester is a city that has been characterized by its creativity at all cultural levels, despite not being a city with an abundance of museums it has managed to cultivate and promote what it does have. I think the art scene in Manchester will continue to flourish in years to come.’
COM: Did you have any favourites pieces from the ‘In Manchester’ exhibition?
CF: ‘Yes, the exhibition has given me insight to the work of some very talented artists some of whom I didn’t know and others whose work I was already familiar with, such as the work of Stefanie Trow. Her technical fluency really interests me and I also have the pleasure of sharing space with her at AWOL studios. Or Jason Carr, whose work always impresses me, perhaps because we have a common theme in terms of figurative work and I feel a connection with his pictorial technique. I usually pay attention to how the figure and the colour work. I think it’s always good to see how other artists work and try to learn from them too, everything is enriching for your own work.’
COM: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to pursue art as a career?
CF: ‘I think the most important things are perseverance and work. It is essential that you always keep producing work and I think you need to understand the importance of doing that. Then there are many other factors such as having a clear idea of the project you want to carry out and developing your own artistic language, which is identified through your work. It is also important to study and find out what other artists are doing at that particular moment and if their work has significance also what are the trends that are being set by the contemporary art market. From there try and produce work constantly, the art market is not easy and you need to try and find your own place in it.’
‘Today social networks make our work much easier in terms of dissemination and advertising, more ways have emerged to sell online and to reach more people through the internet, but I think it’s still important to work with galleries and see how they work in the art market; the more you expand your range of possibilities the greater your growth will be. This is a long-term career where you have to be patient and work hard. Nobody has instant success no matter what people try and tell you because the industry is full of talented people trying to gain a foothold and trying to make a name for themselves. In the long run, if there is work and perseverance, there will also be growth.’
COM: Do you have any future plans or upcoming exhibitions that we should know about?
CF: ‘I have a solo exhibition with yourselves at the Art All-Dayer event, which opens on Saturday 14th August at Halle St. Peters on Bloom Street! [More information coming soon!] I am looking forward to producing work for local art events such as the Manchester Art Fair. Outside of the local community I work in partnership with a gallery in France, as well as exhibiting work through virtual galleries. This year I am also one of the artists showcased in The Guide artists magazine and I am always looking out for potential national and international events and exhibitions.’
COM: Outside of art, what other hobbies and interest do you have?
CF: ‘I am mostly interested in all cultural outlets in many different forms such as music, cinema, theatre, literature, etc. But outside of this field I consider myself passionate about cycling and the great outdoors, I suppose because of the adventure component that they entail.’
COM: If you could live in any piece of artwork, what would it be and why?
CF: ‘In the ship that suddenly appears on the horizon and rescues the survivors of ‘The Raft of the Medusa’ by Gericault. I have been fascinated by this work since I was little and the stories I read about it sparked a lot of interest in me, its study on human nature and issues such as despair, suicide, cannibalism and madness.”