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  • Writer's pictureChisara Vidale



Miguel Sopena is an artist and photographer originally from Valencia, Spain, but now based in Croydon, South London. Miguel trained as a figurative painter but his practice is very diverse and at present encompasses abstraction as well as figuration. In his abstract practice, Miguel is very interested in the material properties of the painting medium and often works in heavy oil impasto, exploring themes such as memory, emotion, and the passage of time.

The textural quality of your paintings is very powerful, how do you create this, can you describe your working process?

I like working with heavy textures very much- I create these by mixing oil paint with oil impasto medium and, often, marble dust, which is literally ground down marble and is what gives my textures that rough feel. The problem of working in this way is that, once I've put down an area of texture, it's impossible to take it off, so I always have to think carefully before laying down the next feature!

In terms of how I start working on a painting, I always try to have at least a rough idea for the composition, but then of course the work takes on a life of its own and it may change a lot before it's finished.

The Dénia series: Sunset III

Oil impasto on canvas, 120x90 cm

What led you to oil impasto on canvas?

I was introduced to heavy use of paint in an abstract painting course years ago, and I immediately fell in love with it. Now the materiality of the paint is a key part of my abstract practice and I admire other artists (figurative artists too!) who let paint 'do its thing' and be really present as part of the work.


The Dénia series: Segària

Oil impasto on canvas, 120x90 cm

Could you talk a bit about your piece ‘The Dénia series: Spirit Door’, how did this series come about?

The Dénia series is a well developed body of work within my abstract practice. It started out on another abstract painting course where the tutor proposed creating abstract pieces based on emotionally charged personal content. I found myself recalling memories of the area by the sea in Eastern Spain (where I come from) where I used to go on holiday with my family as a child and young teenager, many years ago. My memories of that place are incredibly strong. I think it's partly because I was much more in touch with nature than in my usual life in the city- We spent a lot of time outdoors and life was ruled by the natural elements, the Sun, the wind, the mountains and the sea.

The Dénia series: Spirit Door

Oil impasto on canvas, 120x90 cm

So that's how the series came to be and I think I have about around ten or eleven of these big 'abstract landscapes' now.

I don't work in the same way in all paintings of the series- Some of them are more improvisational and some more controlled and geometric, like Spirit Door. Each painting develops its 'personality' and I feel I have to respect it as I bring it to completion.

Your paintings are very dynamic, can you expand a little on the sense of movement within your work?

That's very kind of you, thank you! That's interesting as it's not something I consciously think about when I'm painting. My conscious focus is more on colour and composition, but perhaps some of the underlying material translates into that sense of dynamism.

The Dénia series: The Town I

Oil impasto on canvas, 120x90 cm

Do you have any personal symbols within your visual language?

Again I didn't start out with that intention but, upon reflection, references to the Sun, the Moon and the sky have turned up a few times in paintings from the series by now. I think it has to do with the strong connection to the natural world that inspired the series.

The Dénia series: The Town II

Oil impasto on canvas, 120x90 cm

Lastly, who are some of your favourite contemporary artists at the moment?

There's so much going on at the minute, with so many different trends and practices, that it can get a bit confusing! In terms of abstract painting, I recently really enjoyed Frank Bowling's exhibition at Tate Modern and Vivian Suter's at Camden Art Centre- Such bold and dynamic work (and of course Suter's work also stems from a strong connection to nature). I'd love to incorporate some of that boldness into my own work in the future.

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