Saturday, September 18

Paula Bonet says goodbye (to that Paula Bonet)

Paula Bonet (Vila-real, Castellón, 1980) has communicated in her networks that the stalker she denounced months ago has discovered the location of her new workshop and has been at the door for days, skipping the restraining order that she was granted a judge awaiting trial. “Sometimes he says he wants to cut me into small pieces, other times he grabs my office window at one in the morning while I work to get him to explain what’s wrong with me, because he doesn’t understand me, he says. I don’t answer, I just hit a shout, I ask him to leave and call 112. Last Monday I had to do it three times, “the artist wrote.

Truffaut, the world in feminine and Joan Didion: the world of the illustrator Paula Bonet

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A few days before, the artist had announced the definitive closure of her past as a successful illustrator: “I say goodbye to my work as an illustrator by closing the web and shop on Line “. He said in his Instagram account that he was liquidating the remains of that stage of success, to cut the last link that linked him to a past with which he has not spoken for more than five years. When I sell everything there will be nothing left of the Bonet illustrator of fine watercolors and beautiful dreams that marked a milestone in the Spanish publishing product with the highly successful What to do when The End appears on the screen? (Lunwerg, 2014), of which copies are still being printed. It is a decision of radical honesty and coherence that cannot be taken by surprise: in 2016 Paula Bonet buried Paula Bonet with Thirst (Lunwerg), at which point the artist broke with the aesthetic that had made her popular and fed her.

Do you remember the day you said “it’s over”? “When my publisher told me that we had more than 30,000 sold copies of the The End and I knew that very few readers (neither had happened in the interviews, nor in the signature queues, to which people came for a photo) had delved into the content of the book “, responds to the author while traveling on the AVE from Barcelona, ​​on the way to the Madrid Book Fair. 813 (La Galera, 2015), a book with which he paid tribute to one of his fetish directors, François Truffaut, and in which the storm that will break out a year later is already suspected. The expectation after his first pitch was cut short by a book very different from the one The End: less precious and much harder. Something broke. If in The End treated the breakups, in Thirst were the breaks.

Thirst he discovered a wounded poetic artist, who gave up beauty, success, and profit. It could have kept the roll of unmistakable images and satisfied the niche market, but it abandoned the privilege of the foolproof formula. “I’ve been closing that door for six years. The fact that closing a online shop That it has not been renewed for so long has created such a stir, it has been a great surprise. For me she was already dead “, admits Bonet. Does she owe something to that past that she renounced a long time ago?” The loudspeaker “, she replies. Dead but recognized and applauded. Those drawings to which she dedicated little more than three years of her life They offered him “the easiest way I could travel, the one with the largest door, the one that would take me few hours of work and a lot of economic performance”.

“Then it seemed to me that if I followed that path I was going to be cheating myself and I was going to sacrifice the only thing that has accompanied me all my life and what I value so much: what I don’t understand and that I resolve when I paint and when I write” proclaims Paula Bonet. The scam is due to the fact that they trust little in work “of immediate and easy applause”. “I do not trust a work that generates applause but does not debate, that does not ask questions or that only lovingly accompanies the one who contemplates it.”

Love for enlightenment

She comments that what from the outside may seem radical, she feels it as a “normal, inevitable and coherent” fact. That the door that many of those readers of The End Come close, for her it is pure enlightenment. “When I published What to do when The End appears on the screen and I saw everything that began to be generated around my work, I realized that what we usually identify with “being successful” produced great anxiety for me. I did not understand the importance that was being given to drawings that basically sought immediacy, and how those drawings trampled and destroyed all my previous work. I know that, if I had not been alert, those drawings would have responded more to other people’s interests than to my own “, he is sincere.

Some saw in that aesthetic naive to a good girl whom they allowed themselves to belittle from settings such as La Casa del Lector, in Matadero (Madrid). He confesses that he has wanted to break with all those years, with the immediacy of the work that he made known to him. “It is usually linked to a packaging that I hate. There are many ways of illustrating. We are talking about a complex, interesting art that allows us to reflect, or disappear, or grow. But the projects that tend to have more visibility are precisely those that are less faithful to the They are discipline. The most innocuous are applauded and made visible, those that tend to remain in a packaging that is easy to turn into a product that, in my opinion, has nothing to do with what discipline means to me, “explains Bonet.

On stage and in the newspapers. You will not forget a headline published in El País about The End: “Everyone wants Paula Bonet’s white rabbit.” The focus was her, not the work. “I think that the fact that that work and myself were on the lips of so many people did not benefit my work: there was, around me, too much noise. It took me little time to stop making some drawings with which the public still identifies me. Ten years have passed and orders continue to arrive waiting for a drawing cuqui, with a melancholic young girl, with a lot of color, easy to applaud and who, decontextualized from the text that generates her, does not count anything “, he emphasizes. The beautiful wrapping of his visions complicated everything, became an obstacle to the dialogue he intended “I still do not understand how so many poorly resolved copies of all those early drawings arose, and how so many publishers bought them (and continue to buy them)”, ironizes Bonet.

From the guts

“It was immediately clear to me that I did not want to publish another book like the The End “, watch. So he decided that if he illustrated, he would only do it for “projects that were very worthwhile.” I was willing to abandon that preciousness as quickly as possible. Interesting commissions were not long in coming and she illuminated books with Joan Didion, Rosa Montero or The New Raemon, the album with Christina Rosenvinge, the poster for the Madrid Book Fair or for the play Girls and boys by Dennis Kelly. “I have said many times that I am not an illustrator because I do not have the capacity or the ability to work on a commission with which I do not commune from the gut,” she indicates. For example, Didion’s book connected with the death of his unborn daughters or the one made with The New Raemon with the evolution towards the abstract.

In this last decade there is a very striking trajectory in Paula Bonet’s artistic career from the most popular to the most intimate and thoughtful. From public exposure, to work and dialogue shared in trust. Point out several reasons for this change of track: We ignore our true height until we stand upby Emily Dickinson, Asia Argento and the Me too, the work of Didion, Sexton, Ernaux, Solnit or Russ, Audre Lorde and his Your silence won’t protect you. He understood that he should push into his voice and “stop being aware of what is outside.”

“I had to go back to painting and engraving, which are the disciplines in which I was trained and with which I know how to build those spaces for reflection unrelated to trends or easy applause,” he says. This last step was collected in his first novel, Eel (Anagrama, 2021), which also has an artistic echo in a series where white space is the protagonist (La Nau, 2021). It took many years to publish and paint this work. “In these six years I have completely cracked that package and I have moved away from that noise, to focus on what I think is really important,” says Bonet. Anticipate that next year will close Eel in March, when Anagrama publishes its new writing. And so the word and the painting will be locked forever.

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