Jazz Art
Alvaro Pernia

Image Credits: El otro 02 Autorretrato © Juan Alvaro

I had noticed Alvaro Pernia for his works on jazz that, at a first glance, reminded me of the great David Lavine. I have then discovered a multifaceted and versatile artist with many expressive ways.

Who is Álvaro Pernia?
Good question. As it is declaimed by the lemma inscribed on Apollo’s temple in Delphi, “Know yourself”. I’m used to ask myself this question very often, and so does my wife. I can give you some biographical details: I’m architect, painter, digital architecture designer, sculptor, illustrator. I have realized some illustrated books (published on my issuu website https://issuu.com/juanalvaropernia), and I aim for becoming a serial comics author; I’m husband, father and son.
In the professional field, more specifically as an illustrator, I have worked for some of the most important paper magazines: El Mundo, La Gaceta, Época, Interviú, Excelente Iberia, Guardia Civil, Sàpiens. And, naturally, not to mention my cooperation with Cuadernos de Jazz, a mythical magazine here in Spain, that stopped publishing on paper in 2010, the period in which I had the biggest satisfactions.
In the publishing field, I have worked for Unión Editorial. Moreover, in January 2013, Cuenca province published my illustrated album for children, entitled “Por el Bosque”.
I’m also working on a comic strip that will be entitled “Historias de autobús”, project that, as I am figuring it, will require a lot of time.
I always try to keep my graphic style as wide as possible, by getting inspired by all the “styles”.
Why did you choose the jazz as the subject of your work? Are there any other topics you’re interested in?
I’ve always been interested in people’s faces. Face and hands that are expressing the human being’s enormous capability to transform their own reality. When one is masterfully capable of managing his own hands, he creates something that fascinates me and this, in hypertechnological times is anachronistic, I know but, you know, that at a certain age… For some unknown reason, I have always been fond of portraying both jazz and classical musicians (maybe I owe it to my admiration, to the passion that they are inspiring in me), as well as, I’m thinking, “light music” artists. I come back more than once to the illustrations with jazz subjects, concerning both great musicians or invented subjects. I’m attracted by instruments, particularly by piano and trumpet. I moreover think that they are a great inspiration for me. And, at the same time, I’m always surrounded by people being part of the cultural world such as writers, intellectuals, actors, etc.
I’m very interested in the intimacy of the soul, in little and delicate things, in everyday life, and in a certain estrangement; humble things, materials and issues, things that seem, only superficially, simple.
Would you like to share with us an anecdote on your relationships with jazz musicians?
I have considered for a long time the possibility of buying a saxophone (I don’t have any musical education). By gathering the money I was given for my First Communion and some birthdays, I finally made up my mind and I went with my father to Real Musical (a famous music shop) and I found out that I couldn’t afford buying it. After carefully thinking about it, five minutes after I changed my mind and I bought a trumpet, which was very beautiful with its case and all the rest and, moreover, I thought it was more intuitive to play, as easy as whistling.
As I arrived at home I immediately started to try and play; the noise (because I cannot speak of something different than noise) going out of it left me dismayed.
With as much courage as possible, and trying not to think to my neighbours, I continued to blow in the trumpet tube. After 10 minutes of absurd attempts, and with my lips completely paralysed, I put it back in the case and I never put it out again, unless for watching or for sketching it. It’s better to leave to professionals a so demanding activity.
Do you have any recommendations for beginners?
I don’t know if I’m the most appropriate for giving advice to somebody else, but if you insist I’d say to trust in yourself, to have constancy, perseverance and patience, a lot of patience. You must not discourage yourself, because it’s very easy to let yourself fall in discouragement. I think this is a resilient profession. And, naturally, another very important thing: do not buy a trumpet is you can’t afford a sax!
What’s your favourite technique?
I like watercolour very much, but also watercolour pencils, collage, acrylics, and trying new things. I like humble materials, each of them having their own history (as for collage and recovered objects), capable of introducing different narrative layers.
By making a comparison with jazz, each material contributes to the melody line, sometimes it overcomes the others, sometimes it melts with the rest and always with a certain range of risk, improvisation, when you are not aware of what’s happening after.
Are there any art works you’d wish to have done?
Besides “Las Meninas”? There are so many wonderful artists… Rembrandt, De Kooning, Rauschenberg, Picasso… I’d like to have a big studio where I could do things in style, such as dripping paint, welding, melting, carving.

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