Xavier Encinas’ sun-kissed, ethereal tableaus look at the identity and spirit of desert regions
Xavier’s haunting but beautiful films observe the culture of the American southwest and Spain, within a practice deeply rooted in human connection.
- Harry Bennett
- 20 April 2020
Paris-based creative Xavier Encinas has several disciplines under his belt; with 15 years experience in the fashion industry as a creative director, he now “finally” feels more settled identifying primarily as a filmmaker and photographer. Alongside his business partner Gabriel Ricioppo, Xavier started their own agency, Supergravity, as well as co-founding Sixteen Journal, a photography publication we previously covered on It’s Nice That.
“All these different practices feed each other,” Xavier tells us on how the concoction of these disciplines working in harmony allows him to “explore a lot of different mediums and creative paths.” The result is an incredibly diverse and informed practice, with intricate work that is wholly unique, naturally ethereal and hauntingly beautiful.
Within his practice, Xavier makes the transatlantic link between the American West and his familial origins in Spain. “I’ve had a deep connection with the American West since I was young,” Xavier says, explaining that his creativity is innately driven “not necessarily for the folklore but more for its powerful nature and the people who live there.” This Americana fascination is complimented by the Extremadura region of Spain where his father came from, somewhere Xavier describes as “a very deserted region,” where the “light, the colours of the soil and trees are very similar to the American southwest desert.” Although Xavier has never explicitly linked the two locations within his films or photography, they both “share the same quality in the end.”
Xavier’s work elegantly demonstrates the double-edged sword that is the gruelling habitat of the desert, highlighting “the duality between its unwelcoming environment and the beauty of its abundance of nature.” He certainly achieves this, as well as narrating the history and culture of an arid and hollow landscape, portraying a considered intimacy that makes you feel like you’re the only person allowed to see what you’re watching – a discreet insight into a foreign world.
An honesty shines through Xavier’s work, a raw and sincere comprehension of the locations, something he finds incredibly rewarding – “during all my travels I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve built real friendships with some of them,” he tells us. Xavier goes on to explain that “as a photographer, especially when you look at documentary work, you are driven by human connection,” a connection that only deepens the more times Xavier re-visits the area.
An example of travelling friendship inspiring work is Xavier’s latest film, Carlos; a film focused on a “French Novillo (Young matador) called Carlos Olsina.” Carlos is the latest instalment of an on-going Spanish triptych of films which began in 2018, that explores the spirit, soul and identity of the culture. Xavier was introduced to Carlos by Xavier’s father, as Carlos was the son of a friend. “Since then I’ve been taking pictures and films of him,” Xavier explains, telling us that the next film in the series is “dedicated to Flamenco.” Externally to this series he will soon be releasing “a short documentary about alien believers, conspiracy and climate change,” as well as his first feature film.
Although each film and photograph continues to be free and exciting, Xavier has an extraordinary eye for capturing or creating chilling but thought-provoking tableaus that stick with you. He has a potentially unparalleled ability for translating observation into speculation and considered, a respectful distillation of identity and culture.
Carlos: Béziers, France (May 2018)
About the Author
Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.