Carlos Herraiz

Spanish Painter

01.07.2020   - 31.12.2020

Carlos Herraiz is a Spanish painter and photographer, born in Barcelona in 1995, known for his large-scale abstract paintings, that are influenced by the process of aging and the signature of the elements.

The son and grandson of artists, Herraiz naturally became drawn to art in childhood, and often spent time drawing with his father, or in school. He began his formal training at the age of 18, when he went to study at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh.

Deeply interested in the human condition, Herraiz spent time delivering art-therapy workshops in hospitals, and working with people dealing with mental health, deepened his empathy with people who are going through hardships.

Initially his paintings were largely figurative, and though he has gone on to explore abstraction as well, these elements of humanity remain in all of his works. His works now range from the figurative to the abstract, with many falling somewhere in between. His paintings often feature just-visible fragmented figures that blend and blur almost to the point of disappearing into flattened, abstract backgrounds.

The exploration of emotion and humanity through abstract painting calls to mind the works of abstract expressionists, particularly Mark Rothko. Herraiz himself cites Rothko’s work as inspiring to him, along with that of other modernists, including Francis Bacon, Robert Motherwell, Antoni Tàpies, and Edvard Munch. Herraiz states that he has “been increasingly interested in the time and space between past and the present – and the impact that has on things.” This interest is visible in his work and in his process, as he combines theories of abstract expressionism from the past with contemporary interests and techniques.

I see painting as concentrated time. The painting carries a history of accumulated layers and decisions throughout the process. For me, the result is what remains rather than what is created. The physicality and the flexibility of oil painting allows me to play with the materials through a combination of intention, intuition and improvisation. The process of painting becomes a pure dialogue with the materials.

Over time, I have come to believe that we all accumulate the stains of our lives. Stains of experiences that have penetrated and soaked into us: a loss, a heartbreak, a frustration, a dream. These accumulated marks become part of us; they make us who we are. I feel that these stains of life experience carry a powerful symbolism – that they are the tangible reflex of something happening in the past that is no longer present. They are ghosts of an interaction that’s been left on the surface. The Japanese writer Jun’ichirō Tanizaki talks about a similar idea in his book “In Praise of Shadows”: ‘We love the things that bear the marks of grime, soot and weather, and we love the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them.’

Carlos Herraiz, Artist’s Statement


Spanish painter Carlos Herraiz working at the seaside, allowing the elements to shape the look of his canvas.
Carlos Herraiz at work.

This interest in the passing of time has inspired explorations of the physical results of time, as well. Speaking of aged, discarded objects, he says, “I am seduced by the way an objects change over time as a consequence of exposure to natural elements and processes such as humidity, sunlight, water and insects; how they end up carrying a long history that you can feel when you hold them in your hands.” Herraiz’ paintings are exposed to similar processes of aging, as he leaves painted canvases in the ocean or buries them, letting the elements decide the appearance of the work. “By letting the painting become a consequence of the process,” Herraiz says “it carries the traces and memory of that time spent among the elements. I am very excited to experiment with other materials, expand the possibilities that painting can offer, and open up to explore these ideas with photography, installation or sculpture.”

Herraiz has spent the past several years studying at the Glasgow School of Art and Barcelona Academy of Art, and completed a residency in Kavala, Greece. He has held three solo exhibitions in Barcelona, and participated in group exhibitions in Barcelona, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. He received the Spoon Prize at the Leith School of Art, and was nominated for the Richard Ford Award. He will be joining SomoS to continue his artistic career, initially as part of SomoS’ new Virtual Residency, and eventually here in Berlin once travel is made possible.

Carlos Herraiz Homepage