“The Studio Is the War Zone”: Meet the Spanish Artist Quirze

You know when you keep getting sent things over and over? “You seen this?” “You’d love this” “OMG I love this.” That began happening a few weeks back with Quirze, a 26-year-old artist from Spain. I’d been seeing his stuff on my own, too—warm colors and human forms popping up on my feed—forms that initially looked like advertising, posters, magazine covers, but that had their meaning scrambled into memories of what they once might have been. Covered in tags, smudges, symbols, scrawl. Messages without meaning. It’s hard to do something new, maybe even impossible. Maybe it’s not even worth trying. Everything is just exhaust fumes. Have an idea. Print it out. Scan it back in. Make it look like something that’s been around forever and you’re late to it. Make it look like a scan of a scan of a scan. Fold it into itself. There are no walls left to leave your mark on. Just a feed to throw up into. Tundra. Scrawl. Backwash. Upchuck. Bile. Sleep in your eye. But make me feel it. This is Quirze.  

RICHARD TURLEY: Where are you?

QUIRZE: At Killian’s garage, outside Barcelona.

TURLEY: What did you do this morning?

QUIRZE: Woke up, took my pills, drank a coffee with some pa amb tomàquet, and blasted “Clair de Lune” on repeat.

TURLEY: What’s your favorite piece of art or artist or both?

QUIRZE: “El Aquelarre” by Goya. I also consider Matterhorn as a work of art.

TURLEY: Could you describe the last couple of years of your life, in as much detail as you can remember or choose to share?

QUIRZE: A rollercoaster of things happened the last couple years. Sometimes I felt like a teenager with a Tumblr account and cute naive thoughts and sometimes I felt like the main character of Come and See. I learned to like (I would like to say love) myself. I got to go film school which was my dream and then I failed film school due to my attendance rate. Shout out social anxiety. The fact that a global pandemic hit us didn’t help much either, but it was always a pleasure to keep going and deal with it.

TURLEY: How do you survive and keep making work inside a visual culture that self-eviscerates every couple of months?

QUIRZE: You just go with it. Trust your gut and let yourself be inspired. Follow or don’t follow trends, be anti-fashion or whatever you like. If it’s made by you, you’re contributing to the game and most likely the culture appreciates you.

TURLEY: How important is it to make new things?

QUIRZE: I don’t usually think about that.

TURLEY: Tell me a story.

QUIRZE: I have this recurring dream sometimes where I fight Shia LaBeouf in a desert and it’s shot with a wide angle lens.

TURLEY: Where do you go to hide?

QUIRZE: The studio is the checkpoint. The studio is the safe spot. The studio is the war zone. The studio is everything.

TURLEY: What do you want to do?

QUIRZE: By now I want to be able to push my “Windows” project. A series of one minute films portraying human situations. I hope I can fund this by myself and be able to make these pieces. Even though I mostly make static art, I’m a filmmaker at heart. And if you let me dream, I would love to end up doing a feature film like Excalibur from 1982. That’s my ultimate epiphany.

TURLEY: What do you understand by the term creativity?

QUIRZE: Magical sporadic bursts of energy that can make you succeed or ruin your life in the blink of an eye.

TURLEY: What do you understand about the term democratization?

QUIRZE: To be able to say things like, “I don’t know man…As long as you’re happy, you do you, fam.”

TURLEY: What do you want people to take from your work?

QUIRZE: I’m not going to lie. As an artist I do my shit with love and it’s great to see that people fuck with it. I get compliments like,“That shit hard bro,” to compliments with rich vocabulary and descriptions worthy of a Nobel prize roundtable. Both ways are valid and embraced with my heart. Art is really subjective and my narrative is also. As long as I can make you process it through your CPU I’m deep down happy with it.

TURLEY: How important is the network to your work?

QUIRZE: Sadly, being social in every industry is sort of required. The good thing though is that my artistic process is done in a place I call home, by myself or with my loved ones, but always in my zone. My social anxiety has been with me all my life, but I strive to be better everyday and making friends with peers and people alike is becoming healthier and easier. So I’m happy with my progress and I don’t see such an instinct as a threat to my mental health any more.

TURLEY: How do you chose what to wear in the morning?

QUIRZE: I open dem closet doors F.B.I. style and grab anything and I’ll make it look fire. I’m proud of my fits, they go crazy enough.

TURLEY: Who are your heroes?

QUIRZE: Roy Andersson, Gaspar Noe, Carles Canut, Albert Serra,  Ed, Edd & Eddy, Courage the dog, Yung Lean, Goya, Fran Lebowitz. I could go all day naming people I know just two things about, but it’s enough to admire them. Maybe my sense of criteria is trash? I just love people that do things I like.

TURLEY: Do you cry when you fly on airplanes?

QUIRZE: I only took one flight in my life, and that was when I was 10 to another part of Spain. The day I get on another plane I will most definitely cry, but it’s going to be of joy because I really want to see the world.

TURLEY: What vitamins, supplements and other medication do you take?

QUIRZE: I don’t take any supplements or vitamins. On the medication part I take Paxil which is prescribed by my psychiatrist. Other than that I drink juice and eat raw lemons. I love them.

TURLEY: What’s next?

QUIRZE: Keep doing me and only me, be grateful for my inspiration and the people I love. Wait for a Frank Ocean album and I have like a bucket list but it’s kinda cringe.