Living inside
of his own work:
A talk with Alejo Palacios

He bought it when it was just a dilapidated farming shed, but it was a crush at first sight: "I was fascinated by the views, surrounded by olive trees and mountains. It was clear to me that it had to be here." La Martita, his most personal work; his home and studio.

Alejo welcomes us at La Martita with his artist's vest splashed with drops of paint and a good breakfast that we don't eat until 1pm. For him, Mediterranean life is just that: to enjoy every moment calmly, without haste. We sit on the patio taking advantage of the intense January sun, with the only sound of birds in the background. But, above all, surrounded by a calm that has nothing to do with the hustle and bustle Alejo was used to in Buenos Aires, his hometown.

"...seeing works that, although I could not yet understand, were already beginning to arouse my curiosity".

The Argentine artist tells us that one of the places where he found that calm as a child, and where he discovered his great passion for art, was in his mother's studio: "I would go to see her work in her studio or accompany her to art exhibitions. I have memories since I was a child of walking through the pavilions of museums seeing works that, although I still couldn't understand, were already beginning to arouse my curiosity".


He named her after his mother Marta and his grandfather, as he used to use this affectionate diminutive when he lived with them. Both taught him that the only way to pursue his dreams was to bet on them, and so he did. He decided to take a plane to Barcelona to start a new stage as an artist, since he had felt a great admiration for the great Catalan painters since he was a child: Picasso, Dalí, Miró...

But after a few years living in the capital, he began to feel very curious about the landscapes and tranquility of Tarragona, so he got on his bike and visited several houses in the area until he came across La Martita: "It was a crush at first sight, something hypnotic. The Argentine artist was gradually introduced to the Mediterranean lifestyle that he himself describes as unique: "I feel that I am in a very special place, with lots of light, olive trees and a very calm climate. There are no extreme climates here, and that allows me to enjoy all the seasons of the year to the fullest".

"The sun is coming in at different points and that allows me to experiment in very different ways."

Alejo talks about his house as if it were just another work in his collection, and to a large extent it is. His most personal work, the one that has accompanied him for the longest time. Alejo's hut is reminiscent of a boat anchored to the mountain, with two floors separated by a rounded railing that he assembled with his own hands, like almost everything that is part of La Martita: the fairytale kitchen, the curious lamp that goes up and down illuminating only the space he is using, the boxes for firewood or his works that adorn the white walls. Alejo has made his workspace to measure, deciding all the details, even how the light would enter through every corner: "For me, natural light is very important. As the day goes by, the sun enters through different points of the house and that allows me to create and experiment in very different ways".

IN THE WORKSHOP La Martita's workshop is an artist's own space: full of painting materials, tools and papers of different textures that Alejo has collected over time. For several years he explored papers from different parts of the world: Mexico, India, Morocco and now also from Catalonia. Here he has met a paper craftsman with whom he has created a very special texture, "with a color tone that coexists very well with the painting", and which he uses in many of his most recent works.

Alejo has felt a great evolution in his style since he started working and living here, something that has a lot to do with nature and the people of the countryside. Now, his friends are farmers from other generations who teach him tools and ways of working the land that he later applies in his paintings: "Surely the path would have been very different if I had stayed in the city, because I like to link my work with the environment, to generate a common language".

He explains that his inspiration comes when he has the least resources. A way of seeing and understanding the world that is closely linked to her way of life in La Martita: solitary and relaxed, far from the frenetic pace of the city. Following this same minimalist line, Alejo's works are characterized by their simple colors: he started with only black, very full and intense; then he moved on to an earthy red, more natural; and now he is working with white, a color that speaks of purity, of simplicity.

He does not yet know what color he will use in his work, but what he does know is that La Martita will continue to be his muse.

More Stories