13 May Interview to Antonio José Vallejo Rodríguez, author of the exhibition ‘Portraits of the Soul’

by Eva Yera

Antonio José Vallejo Rodríguez, born in 1987 in San Fernando (Cádiz, Spain), is one of those thousands of young talented people leaving their country due to the economical crisis and lack of opportunities.

Holding a BA with Honours in Arts from the University of Granada and a Master’s Degree in Arts: Idea and Production from the University of Sevilla, both in Spain, Antonio José Vallejo Rodríguez has been awarded in several occasions, with a special mention from the Artistic and Scientific Creation by the University of Granada for his work on New Technologies of the image.

His pictures and paintings have been shown all around Andalucía (Cádiz, Sevilla and Granada), not only as a reward for winning arts contests, but also as a result of self-started projects.

Now, Antonio José has a new added experience to his accomplishments: his exhibition ‘Portraits of the Soul’, a worthy photographic work exploring individual identities. It is hanging on the walls of the Edinburgh Filmhouse cafe from the 3rd of May as part of IberoDocs’ programme, until Sunday, 17th.


When and why did the idea of ​​”Portraits of the Soul” came up?

It is something that I have been developing for several years since I started the studies in Fine Arts. It is the main idea of my thesis, where the most important subject is the portrait, with the aim of getting a deep knowledge of the people. That’s why the closeness of the people portrayed .

Our body not only identifies with the soul, but it is the soul itself. It is a historic conception developed from my current point of view, trying to get a little further.

Who are those souls and what do they express?

They are, mainly, my family and my loved ones. For me they mean the universe, the cosmos, infinity, nature, Goddesses and Gods, what we can’t understand.

How is the exhibition connected to the global concept of IberoDocs festival?

From a documentary point of view and also, this year, by the theme of identity and personal development, the documentation of the context from the value of subjectivity, that brings both, personal and collective identification.

It’s your first exhibition in Scotland. What were the feelings knowing you’d have the opportunity to hang your pictures on Edinburgh Filmhouse’s walls?

The fact that my works were going to be shown in such a cultural city like Edinburgh made me very happy, and that they are being seen by people from different places.

Do you think this will open doors for future projects in the city?

I hope so … I would like to continue developing my style, having the opportunity to exhibit my works in different occasions.

These portraits focus on identity. How does affect in the identity of an artist being away from his land and his passion because of necessity?

It has affected me deeply. I am sure that from now on my work will be dramatically influenced by this fact and there will be a change on it, just as my context, where my thoughts and my way of feeling have changed.

What other issues are you keen on developing through art? 

Identity-related issues such as sexuality, gender or psychology.

Your work is displayed in many different formats -video, photography, graphic design, drawing and even tattoos-, in which one do you feel more comfortable to express yourself?

Each genre or technique has its own shape and quality. One of the most satisfying is the video format, because somehow, contains all aspects of the others.

Are you currently working on any projects?

I am working on several projects through different formats. One that I would like to get finished soon is about self-portraits in selfie style, where I identify myself with different painters from Arts History. Formally it’s a fusion between my own photography and the paintings of the artists.

Do you have any dreams from the artistic point of view?

More than a dream, a delusion… A retrospective being young in a major museum (without a tragic death, ha ha ha)

What differences and similarities are there between the way we think of culture in general and art in particular in Scotland and Spain?

More than similarities, differences … Personally, in Spain I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.