While some painters are reluctant to claim the heavy crown that comes with the title of art star, Spanish-born artist Albert Madaula has embraced his coronation with open arms. A long-time follower of iconic architecture, fashion and film, Madaula’s vibrant, multi-hued paintings amplify and animate his obsessions. His style could be defined as Neon Picasso—echoing the monochromatism of his idol’s Blue Period. Yet the 35-year-old Madaula, who was taught to paint by his artist father as soon as he was able to hold a brush, is far from retro or reductive. His dazzling, ultra-modern canvases showcase colors that present as scorching red-hot flames, fervent deep-sea blues, and glistening yellows that look like ripe bananas under halogen lamps.
“What you see on the canvas is what is around me,” says Madaula from his home studio in Poblenou, an industrial neighborhood in Barcelona. “Living by the Mediterranean sea has inspired my work: the colors, the food, the energy. Having so many sunny days and seeing wild animals makes me want to paint because of the freedom and the power they evoke,” he says, pointing to vibrant works such as Leopardo (Leopard), Tigresa (Tigress) and Cabeza de Jaguar (Profile of a Jaguar). “The beauty in their furs and in their movement are poetic and attractive.”
It is precisely in Poblenou that the artist has set up his empire, with a grand and meticulously designed live-in studio called La Palerma, much in the same way that fashion designers like Halston and Tom Ford assembled their ateliers. Most days you can find Madaula painting to disco music with a paintbrush in one hand and a cocktail in another. “If my playlist had a name it’d be ‘Come dance and drink vermouth with olives,’” he says. Madaula’s creative domain is rife with spaces that include an art gallery called SALA, a workshop, rooms for living and eating and, most importantly, a large event space so avid collectors and fellow artists can mingle and dance among his designs from sunup to sundown. It’s his own private hybrid, mixing elements of both Studio 54 and Warhol’s notorious Factory, that makes Madaula the envy of every major creative following his Instagram account. His work and his home and décor consultations have already made the pages of design bibles such as Architectural Digest and Elle Décor.
Yet as inspiring as Madaula’s home and office are, his greatest charge comes from escape via travel and art. “I often go to Cadaqués, a paradise in northern Catalonia in Alt Empordà. The area is magical and fantastic and full of nature. It is a town of 3,000 inhabitants, with white houses in a bay. It’s where Salvador Dalí lived for many years and the creativity of the place is incredible. It feels like home.” Inspirations from Minorca, the south of France and Tuscany—all places Madaula frequently visits—have made their way onto his canvas as well.
He considers his works to be “mirrors,” and for the intrepid eye, they convey an attitude that is beginning to bubble up in the zeitgeist. That is, a collective feeling that is more elated, more sophisticated and much more optimistic than two years ago. His technique is informed by a litany of heroes, cinematic kings such as Pedro Almodóvar (“his treatment of color in his movies is spectacular”), groundbreaking figures such as actor-
director-producer Paco León and poetic vanguardists such as Jean Cocteau.
His style has evolved from and is informed by a place of hope, after witnessing the world grapple with the burden that the pandemic has piled upon its shoulders. Madaula’s visions on canvas are the long-awaited celebration everyone is longing for, and he is well aware of the joy that he is depicting.
“Painting is a romantic idea for me,” he says, referring to recent works such as The Boy Who Looks to the Sky—created with acrylics, oil bars and spray paint to achieve the sense of opulence he brings to the textures in every piece of art he makes. “My taste level is simple: I am very exquisite in terms of quality.”
As for what the future holds for Madaula, the Spanish-based talent is most excited about curating an international roster of like-minded artists for La Palerma’s gallery, giving back to a circle of creatives who fuel and nurture him. Up next is a project he is quite tight-lipped about, a new short film he is directing, to be released later on this year. Yet no matter where his eye or intuition takes him, Madaula is firm on one thing: His charismatic social circle is what keeps him constantly restocking his paints. “Going out for dinners with people, striking up certain conversations or just having spontaneous encounters can be the best inspiration,” he says. “In one night your whole life can change.”