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From the drawing drawn during a trip in the pages of his always present notebook, to the official image of the Spanish State — in the terrain of the images, nothing is alien to Isidro Ferrer.

An illustrator and designer by devotion, he acts with reality in a similar way to the verse-making machine that Juan de Mairena imagined: on the one hand the world enters, on the other the poetry comes out. You can think that there is inside one of the great stomachs of the planet.

Isidro Ferrer
is In Wild Air


Saul Steinberg

Since I discovered Saul Steinberg’s work, more than 25 years ago, his figure and illustrations have remained a familiar presence. I have collected most of his illustrated books and I have the wonderful accounts of his thought in Reflections and Shadows and Letters to Aldo Buzzi. I often re-read excerpts of the letters he wrote to his Italian friend over the course of their 54-year correspondence. I open the book on a random page and devour its essential, uncontrived prose. I engage — as far as I can — in Steinberg's game of puns and idiomatic expressions, and feel close to many of its postulates. Beyond the modernity and skill of his illustrations, thanks to these letters I have discovered the vulnerable and human figure that cares for details, the attentive learned reader, the caustic nihilist, the critic, the gourmet, the crafty, the traveller, the lover…

At the end of the letter of August 1, 1998, when he lives out his last months, Saul Steimberg writes: ‘I have been happy for a long time, but I was not fully aware of it’. I think that, unlike misfortune and grief, soundlessness and discretion is characteristic of happiness.


Serafin at La Estrella

La Estrella is a pub where every night welcomes a curious fauna — the memorable and varied characters of Huesca, the city I live in. Every one of them have their stories carved with chisel on their faces. They laugh and drink in earnest. A bohemian group, archaic and nocturnal, that in spite of the obvious passage of time and the trace of alcohol in their bodies, interact with proud dignity.

Serafín is one of La Estrella’s regular customers, a schizophrenic painter that holds the whole dictionary in his head and who forms his discourse by whimsically putting together scattered pages of the encyclopaedia. One Friday last summer, after several beers, Serafín sat by my side. He looked at me very seriously and after a while said:

"Do you know what’s wrong with you, Isidro?"

"No. I’ve got no idea, tell me Serafín, what’s wrong with me?"

"You’re overtaken by the feeling of nothingness, and nothingness is contagious, it spreads easily. Nothingness soon saturates everything with nothingness. An excess of nothingness is as harmful as the lack of it. We’ve got to have the right amount of nothingness. The necessary nothingness."

After a pause, he went on —

"One of these days I’m going to see the eye of the world, I might take you with me…"

"That’d be fine, Serafín. When shall we?" I answered him, almost smiling.

As if he had not listened to my answer he remained silent and after a long pause, he said:

"No, Isidro. Definitely, you shall not come, you’d be unable to appreciate it."


The Golden Tiger

At The Golden Tiger they get beer in big mugs, they drink, they smoke, and they celebrate, and a tribute is paid to excess and to Czech writer Bohumil Hraval, who came religiously every evening to sit in a reserved place he had as a regular customer.

At The Golden Tiger, with a religious respect for reserved seats, they sit where there is room, where they can, stuck with thirsty strangers, each sitting and waiting; no need to ask for the first mug. The first mug is followed by a second, the second by a third and so on until the surrender of body and soul. Beer flows restlessly, one after another, until they say enough raising the hand as a sign of surrender or until they lose verticality.

There is no entrance sign at The Golden Tiger; a discreet tiger carved on the stone on top of a semicircular arch. Hidden at the bottom of 17 Husova Street in Prague, its golden interior shines like beer and like the background laughter following each toast. As the night progresses, The Golden Tiger guts gradually light up in amber; cheeks glow with each sip. Laughter belongs to the human being and is universal. Every night The Golden Tiger is the centre of the world. They drink, they live, they live to the last drop.


A New Notebook

I opened September with a new notebook for writing and drawing. It is the closest thing to the excitement of reading a brand new book and burying your nose in the smell of printed ink.

This new notebook, like all the previous ones, was not intended for drawing, it fell into my lap by chance. In the same way that perfection bores me and puts me off, I run away from orthodoxy towards oddities. I reject notebooks designed for drawing, I prefer those rebelling against their purpose and establishing their own whimsical rules. My hands dip in the paper and it gives me back imperfection as an identity sign and as expressive value. I like imperfect beauties, unique in their small flaws. To start a notebook makes me feel dizzy and thrilled. All options are possible on its blank pages, its emptiness holds the desired whole, an imagined whole.

Hesitant and respectful, I light the first pages. The pencil opens shadowy cracks on the white landscape projecting the dream on the dull nature of paper. First drawings are steeped with a mixture of fear and a sense of shame. Erring confirms that I am human. I seek to be true to my profession in each notebook. The purpose of my profession is to foster randomness. To let things happen and be attentive to seize the moments.


What is Poetry?

On page 9 in a red-covered book by Nicanor Parra, the anti-poetry poet wonders: What is poetry?

Among other subjective truths he affirms that ‘poetry’ is everything that moves, that changes location. This statement drives me to seek a kind of poetic attitude in movement. Pulling this thread, I conclude that changing location is not the same as moving from your place. I know people who, while constantly moving from one place to another, never arrive anywhere, and, on the contrary, I know people that have made immobility a wandering quality. I wonder whether changing location has to do with the need to find, and whether search and movement are two joined physical actions.

I have never stopped searching; I look for answers, emotions, experiences, solutions … and I think I do not look with the purpose of finding, because finding implies a rejection of movement. I think I seek for the pleasure of moving, the pleasure of being here and there. I wonder: does this have anything to do with poetry? If so, can there be poetry in acts and not just in words? Can someone become a mute poet of movement?


The Parable of The Knife

In every house there are several kitchen knives, generally speaking some of these knives are in fact useless as knives and we know it. Despite their evident uselessness, we keep these 'fake' knives together with the 'real' ones. We do not get rid of them because they can be useful whenever our cutlery is outnumbered by dinner guests or for other purposes that have nothing to do with their true purpose, such as scraping chewing gum from the floor, reaching inaccessible corners, or unscrewing a door. Distinct marks of these alternative uses can be found in many of these useless knives. Proof of this ineffectiveness can be seen when we are as clumsy as to bring one of these knives to a picnic, or whenever we need to cut something that duly resists: bread, meat, fish. In such situations the flawed nature of these knives becomes evident. Actually, it is not a knife, it is shaped like a knife, but it is not a knife. The ‘real’ knife is the one we pick up when we need a knife useful for cutting.

I like to think some of my designs are ‘real’ designs.