During the Covid-19 lockdown, they have continued playing with the house as a theme from perspectives of all styles, shapes and colours.
There are some people that have enjoyed the time at home so much, during this lockdown, that they are now struggling to return to the so-called new normality, and there are some people who do not even need to leave the house to journey around. Many artists and Illustrators fit into both groups. Most of them already worked from home before the lockdown began and their imagination has always been a privileged escape route.
That is why we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the work of six creators who regularly work with the idea of the house, of inhabiting, of the architectural form, to see how, throughout the lockdown, they have continued to reimagine these themes. These are artists for whom the terrain for building is a blank canvas. Not all of them are architects in the strict sense of the word, but they all create or recreate architectures that allow us to discover or rediscover spaces from different perspectives.
If you are not one of those who tilt a little when admiring a painting, you will have to learn the technique to look at the creations of Cinta Vidal. Not only because of the wealth of details in her paintings, but because of her signature style: impossible and kaleidoscopic perspectives of buildings that emerge in all directions. They challenge the laws of reality, gravity and physics and remind us, with some of these exercises, of the works of the great MC Escher.
From her way of drawing entire houses and neighbourhoods, it seems that, for Cinta Vidal, each house and each neighbourhood is a world unto itself in which everything is connected and there is neither beginning nor end. Hence the compact, often planetary-looking shape of her ensembles of houses, which sometimes seem to gravitate in an imaginary space. During her quarantine, Vidal shared on Instagram details of her work in progress, in which she seems to have translated the feeling of isolation of this lockdown by painting very small and distanced houses. These dwellings are reduced to the minimum expression, in contrast to previous works where houses appeared more regularly in groups and connected to each other.
Cinta Vidal studied at the Massana School in Barcelona, but was previously an apprentice to Josep and Jordi Castells at the Castells Planas Set Design Workshop in St. Agnès de Malanyanes. She currently lives in Cardedeu and works on personal projects. Her work has been exhibited in different corners of the world, such as the USA, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. One of her latest illustrations is the cover of the June issue of Núvol magazine.
Pebe is the artistic name of Pablo Benito, a multidisciplinary designer with a studio in Barcelona who began to illustrate architecture with no other intention than to gift his mother a reproduction of the famous Barraca in Valencia. In addition to his passion for art and design, Benito, a lover of nightlife just like his mom (he combines his work as a designer with his work as a DJ) decided, after reproducing the Barraca, to start his first series of architectural illustrations, reproducing his favourite night clubs from Barcelona and beyond.
Since then, his illustrations of Sala Apolo, La Paloma, Razzmatazz and La Cibeles have jazzed-up the walls of several generations of night owls from around the world, and the enthusiastic reception to this series attracted new illustration commissions. First, of the most precious spaces for him (the least known faces of Barcelona); second, of cultural institutions such as Arts Santa Mónica, MACBA and the Miró Foundation; and, finally, of the most iconic places in the city: La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, and Barcelona’s Head by Roy Lichtenstein. Many of these works were sold as part of the Barcelona Designers Collective, a project created by FAD to support emergent talent from the city in a variety of disciplines. After Barcelona, he went on to illustrate buildings that appealed to him from other cities in the world such as London, Paris or San Diego, as well as imagined spaces or modern architecture from around the world.
During the lockdown, with cancelled projects and the need to continue creating and travelling in some way through his digital brushes, he decided to start a series of imaginary domestic scenes in iconic houses around the world such as Le Corbusier’s Casa do Brasil, the Ricarda by Antonio Bonet, the Barragán house or the Mies Van der Rohe pavilion: “I would like to start a series with no intention other than to support the fact that we have to stay at home. They will all revolve around the interiors of rooms or houses”, he said when he shared the first piece in the series.
Born in Barcelona in 1987, Benito studied graphic design at Elisava and his passion for design revolves around colour, geometry, typography and illustration. He founded his own studio in 2014 and since then, he has worked with several national and international companies such as RedBull, La Caixa, Repsol, ICUB and the Barcelona City Council. His architectural illustrations are also available through his online store and have been exhibited in different cities in Spain. Media outlets such as the Guardian, Die Welt, Fact Magazine and El País have also highlighted his work in recent years.
Up until this Saturday, June 13th, if you are in Barcelona, you can still visit the latest exhibition of the painter Bea Sarrias at the Jordi Barnadas Gallery. With the title Iconic Architectures, Sarrias exhibits the magic of several modernist buildings that she has captured with her attentive gaze at light, details, shapes and colours. At the exhibition, or alternatively on her website or Instagram, you will find her paintings of houses such as that of the sculptor Xavier Corberó, “La Cima” by Antonio Coderch, the headquarters of Santa y Cole by Manuel Baldrich, La Casa Gomis by Antonio Bonet Castellana, the Casa Cocoon and Sarasota High-School by Paul Rudolph, Richard Neutra’s Mariners Medical Arts Center, and Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House as if it was actually located in Barcelona instead of in Los Angeles.
Sarrias paints with a realistic technique, but she reinterprets the houses and interiors that she chooses to paint with an absolutely evocative atmosphere of light and colours that transmits the calm and warmth of carefully designed domestic spaces. In a recent interview in The Spaces, Sarrias confessed: “My paintings are a window to another place. They transport you physically and emotionally to a place where you want to be”. Therefore, at this moment, being able to travel through her paintings to historical houses around the world is a luxury.
The artist affirms that her work is anthropological. Before doing each painting, she talks to the owners and researches the history of each house. When possible, she spends the day inhabiting the house, seeing how the air and nature interact with the architecture and documenting it with photographs and videos. Her ultimate aim is to transmit to the viewer the feeling of being in the house.
Sarrias has participated in different collective and individual art exhibitions in Barcelona, Madrid and other European cities, where critics and local media have received her works of art with significant acceptance, praising her conscious and fine use of light and shadow.
If houses could speak, Agustin Coll, an illustrator from Barcelona established in London, would be their biographer, if only in a visual format. The personal work of this artist gives life to the architecture of cities such as Barcelona, London, Paris, Marseille, Tokyo, Jerusalem, Vancouver or Glasgow. With his creations, Coll tries to express the soul, history and old or new uses of buildings, houses and architectural details that attract his attention, and he tries to enhance their expressive capacity.
Influenced by character design, born out of his love for video games and his passion for cinema (before studying illustration he studied film), Coll has also illustrated comics and he works as a storyboard artist. All this, added to his interest in architecture, materializes in his personal creations. Among others, we could highlight his portraits of the Barbican, Tate Modern and St. Pauls in London, the Unité d’Habitation by Le Corbusier, La Sagrada Familia or the building of the Disseny Hub Barcelona that he made on the occasion of his participation in Barcelona Design Festival 2014.
On March 21, the first day of the national lockdown decreed in England, Coll began a series of daily black and white vignettes, hand-drawn in pen and pencil in his room, in which the main character is precisely a confined house: “Going meta” read the caption of this first image. It has been followed by 52 more vignettes (and the series continues). The drawings portray the tragicomic experiences of this house in an England that remains in a state of alert.
As a freelance artist, Coll has worked for various private clients and companies such as Apple, Marks & Spencer, Nike and Samsung, and has participated in exhibitions in Barcelona, London and Tokyo. His vignettes on confinement will be part of the London Camberwell Arts Festival, which this year will take place in digital format.
Anna Gibb, like Agus Coll, also likes to humanize architecture. She started drawing as an architect, a profession she spent ten years in before leaving her associate position at Allies & Morrison last year to focus completely on illustration.
Her style is heavily influenced by the traditional architectural sketch, but she departs from it to let a bit of fantasy in by sometimes putting scarves, shirts and hair on buildings. Other times, she invites her Instagram followers to recognize the work of overlooked female architects with her “Who is she?” series. In it, she highlights the role of women in the history of the discipline by depicting their work and making the audience guess, with some tips, who they are. She has recently featured architects like Yasmeen Lari, the first architect of Pakistan, who, in January this year, won the Jane Drew Prize for increasing the profile of women in architecture; or Jeanne Gang, “American architect, founder of a firm with offices in Chicago, New York and San Francisco, and designer of the tallest female-designed building (currently under construction)”, among many others.
During the lockdown, Gibb joined the #portraitsforheroes initiative, in which different illustrators offered through their social networks to make portraits of front-line health professionals during the Covid-19 crisis. On this, Gibb reflected: “The act of making a drawing seems futile in comparison to the important work Gerry, her colleagues, and every other key worker is doing at the moment. I just hope it made her smile, and that as a result of this big awakening the world is in the midst of, that people like Gerry get the recognition they really bloody deserve.”
Gibbs has participated in exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Venice, Madrid and Hong Kong. Like many illustrators, she recognizes that she prefers drawing to speaking and that it is more analogue than digital.
He is one of the best-known figures in terms of architecturally inspired illustration, perhaps for his ability to illustrate any subject from the lens of the most iconic architectural imaginary. He has simplified iconic architectural styles to their most elemental form, turned the style of artists into architectural models, imagined the houses of writers, artists, musicians, movie stars, film directors, and superheroes, illustrated human rights, mental illnesses and global problems using the house as the main form, converted famous house plans into labyrinths, imagined traditional tales in the form of houses, drawn iconic houses as if they were haikus… among many other projects.
When you think that there is nothing else that can be reimagined through an architectural point of view, Babina strikes with a new series, as he did during the lockdown, creating “Archisolation City”, a series of thoughts about the crisis caused by Covid-19 drawn in the form of buildings.
Babina is an Italian architect and graphic designer that has lived in Barcelona since 2007. His illustrations have been shared around the world and can be purchased at his online store.
Text: Sol Polo