PEBE: SPACE EXPLORATION THROUGH COLORS

Perhaps the best renown works of PeBe is the series portraying the facade of some of the most iconic clubs scattered around the world. But his vision goes beyond music. We talked to him to understand how he explores space (and architecture) by using color.

If there were an artistic equivalent to the color-blocking in fashion, that would be the trend towards large blocks of intense colors contained within minimalist and polished forms. And if we were to identify somebody who is chasing this vision in the most stimulating and eloquent sense, that would undoubtedly be PeBe. That is Pablo Benito (born in Barcelona in the 80s and formed at Elisava) who put his work at the service of brands such as RedBull, LaCaixa and Repsol. He also made the poster for the recent Barcelona Ciudad Digital (Barcelona, Digital City, ndt), as well as illustrating book covers, like the one for the famous ¡Bacalao! by Luis Costa.

Mistaking PeBe's professional results with something purely commercial though (as it happens with other artists and designers) would be a big misunderstanding. His spirit is much freer, and in fact he has a particular talent at representing spaces, architectures and buildings through a personal and unique style, recognizable at first sight. You would probably recognize him if you stumbled upon his most famous series, in which he portrays the facades of some of the most iconic clubs in the world.

From Apollo to Berghain, PeBe always demonstrated to having a refined sense for the world of music. And not only he did that through the facades of those clubs, but also by giving a new perspective to the posters of various festivals, such as the not-to-be-missed Libido. Architecture, space and music. Three elements that are interesting enough to make up the beginning of our conversation with Pablo Benito.

Currently, do you think there is a visual trend towards pure forms and intense colors?

Absolutely. We are long past the limits of primary and secondary colors. Screens and the digital world have given us the opportunity to use many more colors, something that was previously unthinkable. For example, I stay away from any flat color: I'm much more interested into what happens between flat colors, such as the shade obtained between red and orange, rather than the color red or orange themselves. I also believe that social networks have allowed people to copy any palette without thinking about the colors per se -they wave a magic wand and pick the color they've just seen without giving it any meaning. Obviously, I too have taken colors from other artists; but you have to know how to use them and make them personal. What I do is closer to the surreal, that's why my colors tend to be more intense. As for the forms, I'm not sure what you mean by "pure"... But if you are referring to that recent wave of artists who make 3D architecture illustrations with dreamlike spaces, that 95% of the time are so similar among them you can't even tell who their artist is, then yes. They always use very polished and pure forms and I suppose Instagram is the one who set the course, in this case. I am curious to see what will happen in the future.

Your style is particularly influenced by it, due to the geometric shapes and the use of color, but it is generally applied to real landscapes and buildings. What is the synthesis process that transfers reality into such polished format?

I use several synthesis processes. I'd say three... With the first one, I start from a facade or the floor of a building, I leave aside the artistic vein and take on the illustrator's one, trying to be faithful to what I see, respecting the work of the architect and the building, while giving my touch in regard of detail, shading and, finally, color. Then there are commissions and real buildings. Here I usually express my artistic part more, thinking about what and how I want to represent it -I distort the perspective, add elements that I wish existed, change the colors. You can't tell what is real and what is not, but you can always recognize the building I represent. Finally, there are my own inventions. In some cases, they are spaces and places that I wished existed. In other cases, the places are so transformed that perhaps the only thing I kept about them was the perspective. The latter is a process in which I feel more and more comfortable. After a lot of practice, of course, but it's where I feel an artist the most.

Where does this interest for architecture and, in general, for the graphic representation of space come from?

I would say that, since childhood, spaces, rooms and buildings have always drawn my attention. Maybe not so much the buildings, but the spaces. I also believe that the architecture workshop I did during tech high school, left a mark in me.

Your series on some of the most recognized clubs in the world has become somewhat famous. How did you come up with the idea?

It all started with the illustration of Barraca, that I gifted to my mother for the first time. From there, we saw the potential it could have. To this day though, I'm still fascinated by the aftermath it had, the fact that the series continues to sell and, above all, that it reaches such disparate places all over the world.

As a matter of fact, your style seems to go very well with music, both in the club and festival poster series, and even on the cover of the book ¡Bacalao! Why do you think this relationship is so natural?

I guess it has always been this way. When I would go to Ibiza, fifteen years ago, I was already looking at mega billboards. Also at flyers, posters and the covers of my brother's albums. I believe I see it naturally and each style leads me to a predetermined graphic. Even though all of it has evolved much more since then, something has moved. A multitude of designers focused on music has formed. Flyers, logos, posters: everyone is creating their own style. In any case, in recent years I've been trying to get away from or to look for clients outside the music world, particularly electro music as the budget is low, there are many requests form clubs and promoters and, to be honest, there's little room for artistic freedom.

What are the three artworks that you think have marked your career and why?

The club series, without a doubt. As for the design, maybe Libido. And recently Barcelona Ciudad Digital. I hope there will be many other jobs that mark my career, because professionally I think I'm still in the childhood phase. We are in a hurry to be part of revolutionary projects before the age of 30 or within a certain age, but I would certainly like the opportunity the age of 50 or 60. I can't imagine doing anything else and, above all, I'm in no hurry. You shouldn't have to be. Sooner or later projects will come, if you keep hanging in there. I want to get out of my comfort zone and open up to different disciplines. I did it gradually -I started designing furniture, trophies, lamps and ended up mixing everything together. We'll see.

You worked with brands like RedBull and Repsol... Is there a company or institution you dream of starting a good collaboration project with?

Well, I had thought of Barcelona Municipality... But given how the system is organized and how the public entity works, I don't think it will be possible. The same goes for Repsol, but you can't say no to commercial customers. It's not always worth it. Last summer I met the people of TUMO, an NGO that works in different countries such as Lebanon, Armenia and Russia. There, they work as a free design and technology school for local children with no resources, between the ages of 11 and 18. I must admit that it opened my eyes and I realized that, with your own knowledge, you can choose who you want to dedicate your time and your work to. I recently started working with the IRES Foundation in Barcelona and made the illustration for Hotel Invisible (Invisible Hotel, ndt). Soon you'll see the whole campaign. Thinking about the present and the digital age, I started working at a collaboration with Ideas For Change and to a new project for the EU. As you can see, I try to never get bored and when I look for a collaborative project, I always hope it'll be far from profit and consumerism.

Nothing that's in fashion... I'd say you aren't that interested about this field, and you don't have a favorite item in your closet -is it true?

(Laughs) My partner calls me the man of basic clothes. Black, black and black again. I'm pretty predictable. I'd like to know other brands, but I don't follow trends very much. Although lately I am making progress, all thanks to my girlfriend, who's into fashion. If I really had to pick a favorite item, it would probably be jackets. They drive me crazy, whether they are oversized or tight-fitting bomber jackets, or made of wool, corduroy, denim... It's one of the few things I'd spend money on.