Frederic Amat is a risk-taking artist, committed to subversive art and artistic freedom. So he does not like commissions. However, he admits he was flattered that an educational institution, a university such as UPF Barcelona School of Management, asked him to create its new logo, which will henceforth identify the school. It was no coincidence that he was asked. Frederic Amat is a multidisciplinary, transversal artist. He is a painter. But he also makes sculptures, ceramics, theatre sets, film and posters. He takes risks, questions, mixes different artistic languages together and reinvents art. He sees being an artist not as a profession but instead as a life attitude. He gets up every morning in a state of surprise. He questions and astonishes himself. And he says that this capacity to be critical and enthusiastic at the same time is splashed across everything he does. As far as BSM is concerned, Frederic Amat embodies the yearning to create new connections, involve art and culture in the educational process and make the most of its transforming power.
A logo is a vital part of an organization’s image, a distinguishing mark. What was the process of creating the logo for BSM like?
It was not easy. A painter works in a very different way to a graphic designer. Calligraphy has a certain temperature. And it is very difficult to achieve, it takes time. Graphic designers normally transfer calligraphy directly from their head to their hand. The circuit works differently for painters. Before it reaches the hand it goes all around the body. It is almost choreography and in this choreography the artist dances without thinking whether he is doing a particular move. The moment springs forth. The drawing comes from a profound intuition of the artist. It is a result of the demand to find a balance between an impulse and a resolution and this three-letter image (BSM) visually produces a magnetic effect such that anyone who sees it will never forget it.
Is this the power of painting, of the expression of brushstrokes?
This power is often lost in new technologies. Sending a WhatsApp message is an immediate process. Sometimes I take photos of calligraphy, an image or a stain … You can have a graphic image, a photographic image, but it is still a question of temperature, of the language I use. I come from a pictorial tradition. I am a painter. Sometimes people do not understand why I work in many dimensions: theatre, film, ceramics, sculpture, etc. but there is always a backbone connecting it all together, the sense of brushwork, tradition. Right now I remember it as a long walk. A calligraphic, choreographic ability that comes from way back. One day a teacher showed me some drawings from when I was twenty years old and I saw that that calligraphy, that signature, was the beginning of it. The exercise, the gesture, is performed for years until you become ink yourself. And now I am ink.
BSM is an educational institution. What importance do you think education should have in society?
Speaking about the importance of education is like speaking about the importance of doing exercise or eating healthily. It is obviously necessary for the development of your brain, of thought. We are all able to look inside ourselves. The ability to understand the universe.
Do you see art, like education, as something that is transforming?
Art embodies subversion. Art has the ability to be controversial and being controversial means questioning. If culture is an opiate, it is no good for us; culture must be a means. Culture asks you a question with no answer and through culture we find comfort in having no answer.
Does it make the world a better place?
I try to do my work honestly. To me, ethics and aesthetics go hand-in-hand. There is a morality but I do not try to proselytise through my work. Are we better? Do we paint better than those who made the first paintings? I think we are still at the beginning, unfortunately. The day we lose that ability to connect with the beginning, we will cease to be. We recognise through calligraphy and memory. The day we lose that memory, we will lose our identity.
Is that the message you want to convey through your work for BSM?
The logo is now under the umbrella of Pompeu Fabra University, which is clearly a model for teaching in the city. I think it is good that this tattoo, this graphic design, this calligraphy of three initials (BSM) is above the door of an educational institution, announcing that we want to be different, that this is a place of learning, a place to make mistakes, because you are never quite right, because making mistakes is something you learn. BSM is a place to see and learn other ways to enrich our lives. I would like to remind you of what the poet Salvat-Papasseit said about a particular confusion: confusing a rich man with a man who has money, and art with a horse. My intention and my desire is that this calligraphy, which is on the door of a vital part of the city, on a school of international management with an international spirit, will teach people that they can be richer not by earning more money but by being richer within themselves.
BSM is seeking to do exactly that: incorporate art and culture in the educational experience as a way of transforming students and enabling them to interrelate.
Culture, artists, poets, people who perform theatre or dance are not in the position they deserve today. No attention is paid to culture. I think universities can be a refuge for culture because quite clearly the market is not.