Flavita Banana (Flavia Álvarez-Pedrosa Pruvost) is one of the most well-known and relevant cartoonists in the Spanish language today. Collaborates in S Moda, Orgullo y Satisfaction, Mongolia Magazine and El País; and has published the following books: Las Cosas del Querer (Lumen, 2017), Archivos Estelares (Caramba!, 2017), Archivos Cósmicos (Caramba!, 2019), Archivos Espaciales (Carambra!, 2020) and Archivos Lunares (Caramba!, 2020). Gosh!, 2022).
Below you can read the interview that María did with him.
We have arranged to connect with Flavia at 2:00 p.m. in Spain and 8:00 a.m. in Chile. I've been nervous for a few days, honestly. That morning I jump up, something that never really happens to me.
I connect 10 minutes before out of pure nerves, and I stay rereading some questions that I have written down to ask Flavia, trying to silence a little voice that says “these questions are not up to your standards, you are not a journalist.”
What Flavia and you readers don't know is that Natalia, the creator of Pasquín, and yours truly, worked in the marketing area of a company together and the day Natalia left the office, I printed her right there in the I have a drawing by Flavita Banana that I really like... on a small, crumpled piece of paper I printed this illustration of a woman dancing, or letting herself go... a woman who enjoys herself.
We didn't know it yet, but that day Natalia was taking her first step to create Tienda Pasquín, and somehow, that woman was her.
Three years later, that half-crumpled piece of paper is still hanging over Naty's bed and we are about to meet this wonderful artist who is Flavita Banana because we have fulfilled the dream of having her among Pasquín's showcase of artists. A very nice closing of the circle, don't you think?
Flavia arrives on time for the online appointment, she looks calm and relaxed, she is at home and has that half smile that good and curious people have in equal measure. I was pleased with that attitude because it helped me calm my nerves and be able to start chatting with her.
I explain that we always ask the same questions to our collaborating artists so that people can get to know them better, and perhaps without much tact I ask the first question: What is your most beautiful childhood memory? I am surprised by the speed with which he generates his response and recalls:
F: I think that at night it was, before going to bed... being in bed waiting and hearing my mother go up the stairs to come and say goodnight, you know? He sat for a while next to the bed, we talked a little, he scratched my back... he gave us kisses and then he went to see my sister. But I don't think it was even the time. The moment was when I was in bed and I knew that he was coming and that he was going to say good night to me. It's like that feeling that something good is going to happen, it's not even happening yet. Like when you go on vacation and you're filled with the possibility of what's to come.
M: You had it clear, huh? How tender, those moments when you know and hope that something good is going to happen... beauty. Another question we always ask our collaborators is what series or movie you would like to see again for the first time.
F: There are quite a few, eh…there are quite a few. I have a hard time paying attention in general, I have a hard time sitting still. For example, I don't go to the movies, because I don't know how to sit for an hour and a half or two hours, and I remember that the series I saw that got me hooked and I swallowed it whole and absolutely hypnotized by the screen was the first season of True Detective. With Matthey McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who even now there is talk that they could even be brothers. (laughs)
M: How serious. Yes, I have read it… how scratchy, right? It really hits them.
F: Well, when I meet someone who hasn't seen it, I say: what? I'm dying of envy, because you're going to be able to feel this for the first time.
M: She is very pretty. Also, I remember that I didn't see it when it came out, although it wasn't that long ago either and it was like one of the first very beautiful series that you start to see in a movie format, that's what I remember.
F: Yes, especially as I know... the scenes where it is the present and he is in the police station and talks and drinks and smokes and such... I mean it is hypnotic. I remember that I was amazed and the whole story, I don't know, caught me very much, I liked it a lot in every way.
M: Now we usually direct the questions towards art and we like to ask artists what inspires them to create.
F: Well, I think it's in what surrounds me, right? the normality that is actually abnormal, but well... I think that, yes, in everyday life, women, right? and... try to find the special in the banal above all. And thus make people a little happier or laugh a little more by seeing themselves reflected in some very everyday situation but to say: oysters, it can have its poetry, its humor or we are not that special.
M: Do you experience the world like this in the key of humor with which you draw, that is, is that your mood?
F: Yes yes, I am very funny (laughs). But I do make a lot of oral jokes too. I find the funny in things or the twist... because sometimes humor is not the mockery of the silly joke, but: have you noticed that... such a thing, and in some cases, when that happens to me, I write it down because I say Here I will be able to take a vignette. The radar is on all day.
M: Another question we have always wanted to ask you is, what do you like to paint the most?
F: Well, it's going to sound like it might be stupid... but painting or drawing?
M: Paint, we always say the verb paint.
F: Well, yesterday I covered nail holes in my house with putty, I sanded it and painted it so that the wall looks good and it is what gives me the most pleasure in the world. Know? Small home repairs, with painting. My work is so mental in the end, because there is so much mental search for the joke, what I am going to talk about and such, at least in my day to day work for El País, that when I can do something banal and physical I am happy. For example, if there is a lot of dirt at home and I have to clean, well I say fine, it is something to do physically and not think, to get physically tired and go to bed tired.
M: How handsome. I don't know how to get into the interview that what you like to paint the most is walls.
F: Yes yes, fix holes in the walls at home because I have a lot of paintings and I'm moving them around and come fix them.
M: Normally we don't ask any more questions. But I had prepared some extra ones for you related to Pasquín. Natalia creates Pasquín, well, because in my opinion she has a sensitivity for heavy art and because also on the premise that, well, I believe that you know a lot about Chilean reality.
F : Yes, I was there.
M: (...) The thing is that Natalia creates it so that people have art at home, right? like “I want the club to have art at home and I also want it to be relatively sustainable art and that they can reuse it.” So I wanted to know in relation to this, I had prepared a funny question and another serious question. The funny one is: You meet someone, they take you to their house and... what would be a decorative red flag for you? It doesn't matter who it is or the type of date, romantic not romantic, he takes you to his house and you see a decorative element that is a red flag for you.
F: Eh… I think it's a Spanish flag. I mean, I don't care if it's a date, a new friend that I've had, a party that I'm going to, maybe, and a big cloth flag nailed to someone's house, I already... I just don't... I mean, I could hear the conversation that that person may have or whatever, but if that is not going to be removed from the house it will mark a very big distance. In the same way as if you had a giant Catalan flag. But I think that, because I am Catalan, the Spanish one would shock me more and I would not experience the correct functioning of the event. I forget that I live in Barcelona and when I travel, that I travel a lot through Spain and I see Spanish flags on the balconies, it amazes me... and yet there are Catalans here, you know, it shouldn't surprise me that much either, but since then it doesn't I never see Spanish women, I associate it a lot with a fascism that perhaps it is not, that perhaps it is simply patriotism without more, but mere patriotism is already a very big shock to me. If France has the French, it also really shocks me.
M: If you have been able to look through the Pasquín showcase you will have seen the classical art category. I wanted to ask you if there is any classic work that you really like .
F: I create enough to dress a house, right? So I say oysters, because people have reproductions of classic works at home, it's also a little... it's also something that bothers me a little... right? Especially if they are things by Dalí, which Dalí is very good but at the same time he is horrible, what he does is horrendous. It's horrifying, that level of darkness...seedy, horrible.
But I think that Picasso, damn him, but his ink and line drawings... he has many horses, circus artists and jugglers with horses, drawings he makes with a line... or of women alone, a naked woman... but for me He is the number 1 teacher of the line. And it makes me feel bad, because as a person he is despicable and because of all the evil he has done on a human level. But, look how much I like his work, I dare say that if I could buy art, have the money to buy art, it would be a work by Picasso for sure.
M: So in this case, with this example, we can separate the work from the artist.
F: I think that everything that involves concepts in which you have to separate yes or no, I think it is a very patriarchal idea of separation, very hierarchical, very straight, black or white, 0 or 1... and I think this is Feminism or the end of patriarchy would imply, hopefully, that things can be grey, that there are things in between. So I believe that the pictorial work itself and the artist have to be separated, but the content of the work and personal life of the artist and his actions, it has to be accompanying the work to inform the eyes that see it and that that person can decide or can see a context. Because suddenly that's what happens with Picasso: he was in love with one, he thinks she's super pretty and then he gets angry with her and he thinks she's horrible with 85 teeth. This happens, he stopped being in love and had a lover, so he paints his wife as ugly (...) I think what needs to be done is inform.
M: And a piece you would never own of classical or modern art?
F: Possibly those angels by Michelangelo (I think it's Michelangelo, I don't remember if it's by Michelangelo) or the creation of the world of the Sistine Chapel, with Adam and God there touching their fingers yes, I think no no I would have that at home.
M: I don't think I would have these sunflowers, by Van Gogh...
F: Or also the Mona Lisa, which is an ugly painting, that is, it is ugly... it is very interesting, there is a very interesting story there. But they screw up there, artist and work do come together. But about the sunflowers... what are you going to tell me, sunflowers are a beautiful painting! It is a groundbreaking painting for its time and that person surely begins to paint things... well, in his own way and groundbreaking in his time but that today seems beautiful to you...
I tell her that I would ask her a thousand things, but at that moment Natalia enters the conversation and she has an XXL Rousseau pamphlet behind her.
F: Oh! Look, María, when you told me what works Pasquín could reproduce, I was going to tell you that one of the most beautiful is Rousseau... yes, look at that one and I just see it now.
M: Rousseau is the one who also has one that has a very powerful face like a tiger or a Puma or I don't know what animal it is.
F: Rousseau paints jungle or forest scenes and he also didn't know how to paint, he had no idea about theory, but that's what makes it beautiful. He worked as a customs officer at the port, so he was not a painter at all.
Natalia: That's right, he painted almost photographically, as a realist, and he arrived with that style.
We could have stayed and talked for hours, but Flavia is a very sought-after artist, and Naty is a very busy mother and CEO. Interviewing, if you can call it that, Flavia has been one of the most beautiful things I have had to do in the paste.
There is one thing that I did not tell her, but that I do want to tell you readers, and that is that for me, she is a great inspiration and one of the few women I like to follow on social networks.
Although she doesn't talk much about her life, I listen to her podcasts and follow her on social media, and she is a woman who, in my opinion, accepts the passage of time with dignity, tenderness and respect. He has an incredible talent that is linked to a sense of humanity that can be felt from the first moment. But above all she is a reference for me because I feel that she is a free woman. There are few 34-year-old women today in my world who do not have anxiety about not having a stable relationship, about not having property, or children, or a certain standard of living.
At least it has been difficult for me to find women in whom I can look at myself, where I can find that singleness is a state in itself and not a state of waiting for something else, that feminism is an active, living movement, and that as feminists We can allow ourselves to change our minds and evolve with it.
And Flavia has managed to be that. A mirror where I can look out when I look for myself and I can't find myself. I don't expect to look like her, I don't look for it. But knowing that there are women like that in the world makes me feel more comfortable.
Interviewing her for Pasquín and getting to know her has been a gift. A pleasant surprise. Naty and I did not believe that we were going to present Flavita Banana's work in a catalogue. And now? Look. Here are my favorite lampoons of the year: