Dissect The Universe – Conversation Nº 02.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I studied remotely, at an American school while I was also pursuing a degree program in harp — I studied harp for 16 years. However, I later decided to study fashion and launched a brand called “HERIDA DE GATO,” which I ran for ten years until I decided to close it during the pandemic. I realised that fashion wasn’t truly my calling, and since yoga had been a part of my life for years, I decided to pursue that path.

I’ve been connected to art from a young age, thanks to my mother (María is the daughter of the Spanish artist Ouka Leele), her friends, and my grandparents, who also had a great appreciation for art. It’s something I’ve always internalised, and as I’ve grown, I’ve come to value it even more. Now, I’m very grateful for the education my mother has given me. For me, art is a daily necessity.

What are your professional plans?

Currently, we are establishing the Ouka Leele Foundation, and the team consists of Maria Redondo, Anne Banaan, Maria Ballesteros who is in Barcelona, and me. The primary goal of the foundation is to preserve artistic heritage, but we don’t want it to be something static. We would like to create connections with other foundations, support young artists, and ensure that the legacy she left behind is reflected in something fresh.

I had been thinking about creating a foundation in memory of my mother for a while, and one day, while organising things, I found some statutes she had left behind. I took it as a sign, and I suppose my role will be president or something similar [laughs] because, in foundations, titles need to be assigned. Still, the entire team will be involved in decision-making, and we are very excited. 

You’ve grown up surrounded by works of art, traveling, meeting people, and you’re also a highly sensitive person. Is there someone who has surprised you?

I’ve grown up meeting a lot of people and visiting places because of my mother’s work. Two people who have surprised me the most are Yoko Ono, whom I met at the age of 12 at the Biennal de Valencia. I remember she was wearing badges she had made against war, and as a little fan of the Beatles, it thrilled me. Another person who has surprised me is Miquel Barceló, whom I already knew. I recently spent some time with him in his studio in Mallorca, and being with him makes you rethink many things in life. Now, I just want to go pick almonds, do ceramics, and spend the whole day at the beach [laughs].

Where do you think this industry is heading? Do you have any opinions on this and digitalisation?

I think the more conservative side is a bit frightened by everything happening with artificial intelligence; authorship is being reduced to nothing. On the other hand, I find it amusing to see the democratisation of being a creator, where everyone can have access to it simply by using parameters on a machine. So, on one hand, I’m worried that the human element might be lost, of course, but on the other hand, I’m curious to see a change in, for example, ten years.

What does beauty mean to you? Do art and beauty go hand in hand? Do you believe that with beauty around us, we are happier?

If we’re talking about art or contemporary art, I have no idea. But for me, beauty and art or artistic expressions go hand in hand. I can be moved by seeing a building without even knowing who it belongs to. I can also see a film as something beautiful; these are things that nourish you. I believe it’s essential to grow surrounded by beautiful things. I see that a lot in Italy; my partner is Italian, and I told him once that it’s hard to get angry there. If you go out on the street, everything is beautiful, so beauty in our environment is crucial.

What motivates you to keep growing, and what makes you feel good both professionally and personally?   

It’s true that my way of projecting professionally has changed a bit. When I worked in fashion, I had goals like selling in a certain store or wanting someone to wear the clothes I made. Now, working with someone else’s material, I want to take care of that work that is already done, but I don’t have the bond and expectations I’ve had other times. 

Es verdad que me ha cambiado un poco la forma de proyectar a nivel profesional, cuando trabajaba en moda tenía metas como vender en “x” tienda o quiero que alguien se ponga la ropa que he hecho, ahora al estar trabajando con material de otra persona es como que quiero cuidar ese trabajo ya hecho pero no tengo el vínculo y las expectativas que he tenido otras veces.  

What is your day-to-day like now?

I usually wake up around 8 or 8:30am, spend some time at home, have a coffee, check Instagram — like we all do. I go to yoga at 10am, and from there, I go to the studio, mainly for meetings. When I have a specific project with someone, or a trip, things change, but at the core, that’s my routine when I’m in Madrid. I try not to finish work too late, to be more relaxed and dedicate the rest of the day to myself.

What would your ideal lifestyle be?

I’ve fantasized many times about living in Ibiza because I like it a lot. However, I think I would get a bit bored there all year round. So, I like being based in Madrid because it has good connections, and you can travel anywhere. But my ideal lifestyle would be not feeling limited by schedules, having a job that allows me to travel, manage my time, and going to Bali for a month each year to do nothing.

A memory worth remembering

A memory that I will always cherish is a trip my mother and I took to Paris because Miquel Barceló, whom I was talking about earlier, was going to paint her portrait. At that time, my mother decided she didn’t want to travel by plane, so we took a sleeper train, and the experience was so much fun. Later, we visited galleries, walked around the city, but I want to say that when you lose someone close, any moment you’ve spent that reminds you of them is precious.

If Maria Rosenfeldt were a recipe, what would it be?

If I were a recipe, it would be something with lots of cilantro, endives, and spice. I think that if I were a dish, it could be an endive salad with olive oil and grilled chicken with lemon, ginger, lots of cilantro, cayenne, and asparagus. 

Published December 26, 2023

Dissect The Universe is a nonchalant public space to share daily life.