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Pedro Hoz pours his subconscious into his paintings. Marilú Báez
The 23-year-old Malaga painter who exhibits from Cuba to Hong Kong
In the frame

The 23-year-old Malaga painter who exhibits from Cuba to Hong Kong

Pedro Hoz studied business, and only started painting at 18. Self-taught, his personal style is already making its way into the art world

Regina Sotorrío

Malaga

Friday, 14 June 2024, 13:04

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Pedro Hoz does not look like a painter going to work at his studio. He wears a white striped shirt, blue trousers and his hair is perfectly styled. He assures us (and his team confirms this) that it is not just for the camera. That's just how he is. "I like to paint with flow," he says, smiling for the camera. At the end of the day, he probably looks very different: scruffy, with the odd oil paint stain on one of those shirts he buys from a neighbourhood second-hand shop. But to Pedro Hoz, elegance is an intrinsic value, and he certainly has style.

And his career so far has been anything but conventional. Not only did he begin to paint at the age of 18 (he is now 23), but he was also studying business, not fine art, at the time. He has, moreover, only worked with oils for the past year and a half, but has come a long way with them. His artwork has already been in Seoul, Miami, Mexico, Madrid and his hometown of Alhaurín de la Torre. Into his work he pours his subconscious: a very personal imaginary of strange bodies that intertwine or float in impossible universes. He is a surrealist in anyone's eyes, but he clarifies: "Surrealism for me is a movement that occurred during an era and cannot be replicated." He prefers to say that his painting is an "escape from reason".

"In this rational world we live in, it's one of the few things I do where I try not to question anything - just feel and see where it takes me," he explains.

He has transformed a flat on Calle Héroe de Sostoa into a studio and meeting point for artists

For the moment, it seems to take him quite far away. At the end of May he unveiled his first museum exhibition, Undivining Divinity, at the Centro de Arte Tomás y Valiente in Fuenlabrada, which features 16 paintings and three large-format sculptures. Each painting is accompanied by small 3D figures by designer Jon Benet. Hoz will then take part in collective exhibitions at Tang Contemporary Art in Hong Kong and at an art fair in Saudi Arabia. In addition, he is already working on the four-metre-long sculpture that he will take from Malaga to the Havana Biennial in Cuba in November. In January 2025, he will make his debut with a solo exhibition at Villazan Gallery in New York, where he is a featured artist.

"During the last year of my degree I was already living off painting," he says, sitting in his studio on Calle Héroe de Sostoa in Malaga city. Although this space belongs to his grandfather, he and other artists occupy it while he finds a new tenant. But how did all of this happen? Pedro Hoz reflects and searches for an explanation, but he too has been caught off guard by this evolution. Korea was his turning point. Hoz participated in a programme for business students at the University of Malaga, where they travelled to Korea to carry out a project. With Covid still in the air, Pedro had to spend two weeks quarantining in a room in Seoul, during which he did one painting after the other, finishing fifteen in total. With them, he visited different galleries in the city, until one of them, Kara's Gallery, purchased all of his work. "That made me believe in it," he says. And from there, he did not stop.

"Everything I earn goes into this: to create more works, to execute sculptures, to have a team." Right now there are three of them: Hoz, Benet as 3D designer and Pol Arregi as studio manager. The team currently work in the studio on Calle Héroe de Sostoa, which at times resembles the Marx Brothers' cabin, with artists and associates coming in and out.

Ten commandments

Over one of the studio shelves presides the document, "Ten commandments for my grandson," signed by Hoz's grandfather Juan Antonio Domínguez, a lawyer and painting enthusiast with whom he has a very special relationship; he is his pillar and keeps him grounded. "Be hardworking and consistent, put interest and enthusiasm into everything you do," reads the sixth commandment, "Be generous," says the tenth. And Pedro Hoz complies. "I fill my life with this; I don't mind being here all day painting," says the young man, who for some months now has been sharing the workshop with another artist from Malaga, Zoilo Blanca.

With two canvases side by side, it is clear how radically different their styles are. "But we feed off each other," Zoilo says. "He's the only person I let have an opinion on my paintings," reveals Pedro Hoz. "And his painting has influenced me," adds Zoilo, who is currently exhibiting his own work at the Ignacio del Río studio in Soho, Malaga.

Theirs is one of the many synergies born of this place, where artist Ernesto Artillo, also from Malaga, was recently preparing his art intervention that would feature at Museo Carmen Thyssen. This studio has become a meeting point for restless young people to create, but also to train. The room at the back holds an unexpected surprise: a huge open space from whose ceiling hangs several punching bags. "I train every day; it keeps me sane and healthy," he says.

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