Journalist, art consultant, independent curator and artistic director of CIRCA, Puerto Rico, Paco Barragán fiddles with his Spotify playlist. He does some DJ-ing at opening parties of art projects on the side. Over his apple pie, he explains that he’s here for two reasons: to talk to photographer Erwin Olaf as a curator of a new tour of his show ‘Erwin Olaf; The Empire of Illusion’, and to propose a solo show of eight large scale paintings based on Dora Maar’s photos of the development of the Guernica by a Spanish artist.
It’s a long curve from Barragán’s upbringing as a son of Spanish immigrants to Maastricht, his studying English and Spanish literature at Nijmegen University, landing a job at Marketing & Sales as Alcatel in the late eighties to his entering the art world in the early nineties when a friend asked him to help negotiating a portfolio with galleries in Spain.
From that spontaneous start, Barragán’s involvement with the modern art world has been intense. Based in Madrid, he is in touch with the most prominent players in the field and has gained an impressive international status, curating exhibitions in South-America, Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand.
He is the author of The Art to Come, (2002) a Spanish/English survey based on the work of 159 artists from around the world, and The Art Fair Age (2008), which offers a challenging theoretical framework on art fairs and their influence on the art market. He is Associate Editor of ArtPulse magazine, Miami, and PHD candidate at the USAL Salamanga.
He uses his cappuccino cup, his apple pie plate and the pepper mill to illustrate one of his main themes: the influence of art on politics, and. What interests me, he says, is the the dialectics of the failing of the big stories and the pressure on the contemporary subject. “It is all”, he says, “about creating images in peoples heads”.