Many months ago I was in the Casa Grande in Ayamonte showing one of my in-laws around when he commented on a painting by Emilio Borrego. From there the seed was sown to do this interview.
Now most people know Emilio Ferrer Borrego from the electrical stores (Ferrer) that they have both in town and in the new industrial estate, but not everyone knows how prolific and well regarded he is amongst the consecrated artists in Ayamonte. And as his shop is the best place to catch Emilio that’s where this interview took place.
M: First of all Emilio I would like to congratulate you on the painting for this year’s Angustias Festival. I know it is being officially presented tomorrow in the Casa Grande but I was lucky enough to see a pre-release and I must say it’s a lovely portrait of the Plaza Laguna during the festivals.
E: Thank you, what you may not know is that the young lady in the painting is my niece Amanda.
M: No, I didn’t know that but now that you mention it she looks a little like her sister Mariá the chess champion. How did you end up painting the poster for the Angustias Festival?
E: The councillor for Culture, Francisco Blasquez, approached me three months ago and asked me to do it and I had this idea of including Amanda and the Plaza Laguna. What you see today is almost two months hard work.
M: The colours are fantastic and what are those flowers she is holding?
E: The time of day was important to me just as the sun is going down, the sky is that lovely blue and the bell tower in the Angustias church is lit up. The flowers she is holding are Nardos (Spikenard).
M: Am I right in saying that this is not the first time you have painted the poster for the Angustias Festival?
E: Yes, indeed I did one in 1978, another in 1994 and this one now in 2012.
M: It must be an honour to paint the main poster for your home town on so many occasions.
E: The Virgin Of Angustias is the Patron Saint of my home town, so yes, it is an honour and I’ll tell you another thing that not many people know: In 1980, I was given a very special frame which dates back to 1929 and I did a painting of the Vírgin of Angustias to fit that frame and it hangs proudly over my bed.
M: Your painting of Semana Santa is one of the most favoured also.
E: The 1997 painting of “El Cristo de la Buena Muerte” going up Felipe Hidalgo Street has received a lot of praise and in 2005 I painted El Salvador.
M: I am always curious as to how people start painting some start later on in life but I heard you started painting at a very young age.
E: Painting was a little later but I started drawing when I was about four or so. You see, my brother Juan who was 13 years older than me painted and I wanted to be like him when I was a child. He actually kept my drawings and when I was older he handed them back to me saying that he always knew I would turn out to be a good artist.
M: So it was your brother Juan that influenced you and brought you into the world of painting.
E: Not only Juan but also my mother and father they were both good drawers. Then Juan who was a graphic artist left to work in Madrid for Aguilar and carved a name for himself drawing the famous bullfighting posters.
M: Juan left for Madrid when you were eight so did you stop drawing for a while?
E: No, not really. Painting is a form of enjoyment for me and even if I don’t have a brush in my hand I paint my pictures in my mind every day and I can’t see that changing ever. When Juan left, I started to develop my own style and I remember my school teacher Don Antonio Moreno Diaz saying to me after we were asked in class to draw “Emilio you are going to be a painter”. Of course all my work then was in pencil and it wasn’t until I was 16 or so that I painted my first Oleo.
M: Can you remember what it was you painted and do you still have that painting?
E: It was a forest in the Swiss Alps covered in snow, nothing spectacular but it did attract attention and I still have it. I rarely sell my paintings as I do them for my enjoyment and if people can enjoy them with me even better.
M: I have seen some of your exhibitions and although your paintings are rarely for sale, you have sold some paintings. Can you tell me what was the first painting you sold?
E: You are making me recall some funny things, I remember the first painting I sold was of Plaza Laguna and I got 1000 pesetas for it which would be a little over six euros in today’s money. And it took a while to get paid for that painting.
M: I know very little about art but the more I learn the less I seem to know, how would you describe your art?
E: Landscapes are something I enjoy doing and I would describe what I paint as figurative and natural and I would class myself as an impressionist painter. I strive to find reality in my paintings.
M: About three maybe four years ago you showed me a mixture of green paint and asked me how longs it took to make, it was a trick question.
E: Yes, I remember and no one was going to guess 40 years, that’s what it took me to get the green I have been looking for. It took me 40 years to be happy with the greens on my palette. People know me more for my blues; all of my paintings have blue in them in some way or another.
M: Why is that?
E: The light here is very special and of course the sky is almost always blue and this blue is reflected in everything. If you look very closely in my paintings you will see that many of my colours have a blue base.
M: I live in Ayamonte myself and one of your paintings which I saw recently is a painting done from the hills behind my house towards the marshlands and it was my brother in law who asked about it.
E: The marshlands are great to paint and I know exactly where you are talking about. Many a splendid afternoon I have spent painting the marshlands and working on the layered transparencies of all the colours that the afternoon sun can leave on your retina.
M: Where can our readers see more of your art?
E: There are a few paintings in the Casa Grande and when I do exhibitions although I don’t have any planned soon but maybe the best place to see my paintings is on this web page called
M: Thank you for your time and I am sure our readers will enjoy the insight into the painter Emilio Ferrer Borrego.
E: A pleasure and I will have to brush up on my English to read this on your infoayamonte site.