Of course. For me it is very strange to go back to Tenerife because when I left here I was more self-conscious and did not have the developed personality that I have now. Returning to expose myself so much and so naked is for me an act of faith. Now I come to show myself and not be ashamed of it because when I was younger I had more complexes: I thought I was a mistake and I was wrong, not only because of my sexual condition, but also because of what I thought. But now I feel perfect.
He says that he returns to Tenerife to show himself as he is. What is the public going to see in this exhibition?
There was a moment in my life when I became obsessed with portraying myself because I like to question who I am and to add audiovisual accessories to help me answer that question. What I show in this exhibition is what I have been at different times in my life. Everything is very psychological, and I do it through photographs, sculptures …
It is one of the first times that you have been able to see your images in large format with the two shown in Filip a (l) lone. Does the show encourage you to consider new proposals?
Yes. Also, now I am more focused on my strictly artistic part. I started in the most commercial world and little by little I have come to realize that where I am most inspired is in the artistic field. When you work in the commercial world you are obliged to include a product and you do not necessarily have to like it. On the contrary, I love working in the world of art or music because they are more timeless and the works do not lose their value with the passage of time.
Throughout his life, he has asked himself the question of ‘who is he?’ Many times. Have you been able to answer that question?
I think it’s a never ending question. We never finished building ourselves and the 18-year-old Filip has nothing to do with the current Filip, 28. That is why I like to document who I am in the present, because when I look back I am surprised to see the person that I was and I I realize how much I have changed. Many times I don’t see myself represented with that Filip but when I look at the evolutionary hindsight it makes sense. I am aware that my work is quite selfish, I do it for myself and I exhibit it to satisfy my ego. But all this is to know who I am because otherwise I feel anxiety. I need to visually document how I feel.
Although you may consider it selfish, part of your success is also that your followers feel identified with what you do and show.
Of course. That is the double-edged sword of my proposal. We are all the reflection of a part of ourselves and any human can see himself reflected in me, in my work and in the thoughts that I have. Maybe not 100% but surely in some detail yes. My work is precisely full of details that can make a lot of people vibrate.
María Forqué has accompanied you at the opening of the exhibition with a performance and collaborates a lot with you. Is it a way to complete the message you want to offer?
Yes. Maria is my best friend and my muse. For me it is as if we never stop playing and it is something quite organic. It is not forced at all and we do not propose anything but we are so ingrained that everything arises because we like the same things.
In his work he mixes classicism with the contemporary. What is it that leads you to take those time travels to shape your proposal?
Until I was 18 years old, I was in an observant mode and had no developed taste. I did not think that I could create or be an artist because I thought it was a position that could only correspond to people like Dalí or César Manrique. But from the age of 18 I emptied myself of information because I felt that what I had done so far was not how I would have liked to learn things and I began to relearn everything again, from mathematics to history. So I have the feeling that I have looked back to see what it is that we have been learning as humans and now that I have all that information revisited I have reached a conclusion in the present. That is why I used to do more classic things, because I was observing where we come from, and now I feel that my mental landscape is very much in the present and that is why technology and psychology inspire me a lot, because they are the great issues of today, along with climate change, although the latter I have not yet added to my works. My goal is that, once I have experienced the present, I will move to the vision of the future, when I already have all the information in my brain. I am intrigued to know what my creative conclusion will be in the future.
Did your creative awakening coincide with your transfer from Tenerife to Madrid?
It was not so much the transfer but that I had set my 18th birthday as a limit. From that moment on, he could do whatever he wanted because until then he had been in the system. I had played the capitalist system and from that moment on I tried to re-understand everything. That coincided with the fact that I went to Madrid, which I think is a good showcase to do things and play. From that moment I felt that I did not have to listen to my parents because when we are little we are always slaves of the system. We think that what we have to learn we must do through the established educational system but I have not done it that way. Everything I know about image editing I learned from the internet. People should not say that they have no means because the internet is today the great free library of Alexandria.
Precisely you always show the process you carry out to shape your works through social networks and teach how to do it.
Yes. I learned online and I like to reveal the secret, even if people don’t understand it. I think that this is how I bring art down to Earth and humanize it. I do not want to seem like a god because many times the artist is considered something unique, but I believe that we all live under the same creative cloud, we all drink from the same ideas because we all receive the same stimuli, only that I have decided to dedicate myself to this because it is what vibrates me. We must think that we are a collective, we must think together so that the human imaginary evolves.
Throughout his career he has had a very strong aesthetic and has worked with major brands and publications around the world. Have the two aspects been married well or have you had any run-ins with clients?
Everything in life is balance but I have always been very stubborn so that the client trusts my vision. I think that if someone hires me because of what they have seen of my work, it is because I have been free. When a client has wanted to move me to another creative field, the result has not finally flowed. It is important for both parties to reach a common point.
He has also worked in different parts of the world. Is there a more open mentality abroad regarding your proposal?
I feel very lucky and very blessed that people have understood me, even if it is with the passage of time. I also think that thanks to the virtual world, internationalizing is a little easier because you can reach the public in a more massive way. And I have always felt very supported when I have worked outside of Spain, less in a few exceptions.
In 2018 his success grew remarkably after working with Rosalía, for whom he created a whole visual universe for his album El mal querida. Since you say that you like to work in the field of music, is there an artist with whom you would like to collaborate?
This year I worked with Lil Nas X and it has been a lot of fun. It was amazing to see my photographs in Times Square after I had been working on the project from my home computer with my dog on my lap. I definitely want to keep doing musical things and now I also want to make videos and in fact I already have a future project that I can’t talk about yet. With all this, I am also thinking of living a season in Los Angeles because I think it would be easier that way. With Lil Nas X I worked very well but due to the pandemic I was unable to travel to the United States and had to take the photos remotely. It’s really fun to be able to say that I’ve done it that way and that it worked but it’s not my ideal creation system.
Filip a (l) lone is Filip Custic’s first solo exhibition in Tenerife, and it can be visited at the Bibli Gallery in the Chicharrera capital until next January, within the framework of the XVI International Biennial of Photography of Tenerife, Fotonov Diciembre . The famous Tenerife artist shows in this exhibition some of his most iconic works and completes them with more recent proposals, such as two large-format photographic montages made this year and which are exhibited for the first time in this recently inaugurated exhibition. Filip Custic thus offers a review of his inspirations – César Manrique’s toys of the wind are reflected in one of his sculptures – and of his concerns – with a video proposal in which he appears with a mask designed by him.
Custic recognizes that with this exhibition he has also wanted to “make a little noise in Tenerife”. He emphasizes the visual beauty of the landscapes of this island where he was born but regrets “the brake” that “makes people not fully motivated”. Filip Custic is very inspired by “the energy of César Manrique, who was able to attract people to the Canary Islands” and acknowledges that “somehow I feel like doing that, giving more voice to the Canarian cultural scene.” “There are talented people everywhere but you have to have a giant loudspeaker for them, Madrid has it, for example,” sums up the Tenerife artist who laments “the preconceived ideas” of society. “People think that you have to go abroad to be successful but thanks to the Internet that is no longer necessary, I am the proof of it,” he concludes. | PG