The Spanish artist Xevi Sola Serra defines his work as ‘scenes from a horror movie using relaxing pastel tones’. He lives and works in Girona in north-east Spain, and studied fine arts at the University of Barcelona. He spent many years working in a psychiatric clinic, and this knowledge is important for understanding much of the power of his work.

Central to many of Serra’s paintings is a thin, pale, bespectacled, rather ethereal woman, not the usual idea of an erotic subject. This makes her nakedness, and she is often naked or partially naked, all the more striking, especially as she is often seen in otherwise more or less everyday settings, accompanied by other clothed characters. The other people, more often than not, are men, who though in everyday clothes tend to be depicted as rather suspicious and dangerous beings, challenging the purity of the main character. The mundane but strange props of cars, frame houses and swimming pools add to the mystery.

As Serra explains, ‘I think the energy that emerges from the vision of any image, what could be called its visual power, is closely linked to the use of the dialectic of opposites. The stronger the contrast, the stronger the energy released. Planning the use of opposites provides greater visual impact, making it more attractive and sometimes also making the reading of the work easier. In addition, quoting many of the themes of modern art – Van Gogh, Matisse, Yayoi Kusama, even cartoon characters – makes the contents of the works more recognisable and accessible. At the same time, these devices help us to explore the darkest part of our consciousness, conveying a subtly disturbing message.’


Xevi Solà Serra’s Instagram page, including a link to the gallery which shows his work, the Alzueta Gallery in Barcelona, can be found here.

Example illustration