There is a wonderful little Museum hidden in a Barcelona Hotel. Its name is the Opisso Museum, a place dedicated to the art of Ricard Opisso. The Hotel Astoria (in the Diagonal Area), owns a unique collection open to the public. In this short video I am giving you the chance to admire the beauty of this very special place.
The Opisso Museum: an impressive collection inside the Hotel Astoria in Barcelona
Natalia Rak is a street artist based in Poland, she has painted walls all over the world. I have sat with her in order to ask her about her own experience as a woman artist, if she has had some "models" in her career and how the internet has changed her work.
The Street Art world is mainly dominated by the male presence, as much as the Art field in general is, but there are women like Natalia who are leaving a mark and being the change. Her images are characterized by strong and saturated colors, while the figuration is often romantic and reminds sometimes the work of Norman Rockwell (one of her favorite artists), but represented through a pop sensitivity.
Natalia is widely respected and loved in the Street Art world, she has had shows in many galleries across Europe and she keeps evolving. Her passion for Arts, together with her vibrant and and unique personality, make of her a great interpreter of our time.
If you want to see her art follow her on Instagram.
In search of Beauty – Saul Leiter
Published on 5 July 2018 here
A great example of what being a real artist really is: the amazing story of Saul Leiter. His work is on view at Fotocolectania in Barcelona. His experience should remind everybody that being an artist is a matter of creating a body of work, and not finding fame and immediate success. He was a painter and a photographer who has found recognition very late in his life. To celebrate his memory and his art is essential in order to understand a chunk of American History of Photography.
“Being ignored is a great privilege. That is how I think I learned to see what others do not see and to react to situations differently. I simply looked at the world, not really prepared for anything.” S.L.130 stunning shots taken by the outstanding american photographer Saul Leiter, are now on view at the Fotocolectania Foundation in Barcelona. His work is recognized worldwide, even if he has met fame late in his career, facing it almost with indifference.
Disappointing his father (who wanted him to be a Rabi) the young Saul, at 23 years old, left Pittsburgh to go to New York, in order to become an artist. Here he became friend with the abstract expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart and with W.Eugene Smith, who encouraged him to take on photography. Saul started to shoot camera all around the Village with a Leica, a light camera that was easy to carry around the city and that revolutionized street photography in general.
At this time the use of color film was uncommon, but not in fashion photography. In 1951, Leiter was already in Life Magazine, just 5 years after taking up photography. Then it was the time of Harper’s Bazar (when Henry Wolf was the art director), Esquire, Elle, Show, Vogue Britain, Queen and Nova.
In 1953 some black and white photos of his are exhibited in a show at Moma and then in a museum in Tokyo, while his first solo show happened at the Tanager gallery in NY. In 1963 he opens a studio on 5th Avenue (that he will have to close in 1981 because of lack of money, keeping working from home instead).
Saul was not a “careerist”, he was not interested in fame. He knew he had talent, and after turning his back to the fashion photography work, he also turned his back to financial stability. Ilford Paper Company helped him to print out his work in 1993, and in the same year he started to show with the Howard Greenberg Gallery, the same gallery that in 1997 will give him his first show with photos in color.
Just in 2006 his first monographic book was published: “Early Color” that was welcomed internationally with great success. Later on his work will be showed also at the Fundacion Henri Cartier Bresson (2008).
Saul has been living on 10th street with his partner of his whole life, and he has always kept taking photos and painting, not matter what were his economical conditions.
There is also a movie you can check out called “Saul Leiter: in no great hurry” by Tomas Leach (2009).
In 2013 he passed away peacefully in his home, and a Foundation with his name keeps alive now his legacy with shows, books and educational projects.
He has been shooting the streets of New York during six decades, and his perspective on the world has become a signature of his take on life. The characters of his shots are often out of focus, or just partially shown, while the abstract use of color is another typical trait of his style. He liked to photograph urban landscapes where the brims of things or the drops of rain could be important narrative figures of his peculiar compositions.
The poetry and the intensity coming out of his lenses applied to the world are conveyed by his unconventional use of shapes and the painterly use of colors. There is not a central perspective on things, and the spacial dynamics are compressed in scenes where the strong contrasts are in charge of creating the composition.
Published on 2 May 2018 here
Marcos Palazzi is a figurative painter based in Barcelona, who is recently showed at the gallery Sala Pares, the oldest gallery in Barcelona (where also Picasso had the chance to display his art).
The expo is called “Dwanggedachten” and collects some stunning artworks, where you can admire the true talent of this artist. Among his strongest skills you can easily spot his passion for drawing. In fact, the paintings are rich in details, and it is possible to detect the sign of pencil next to the color when admiring the surface of the woodblock live. Sometime the pencil is carrying the whole sense of poetry of the composition, some other time pencil and oil paint alternates in a very lyrical interplay, so that the the eye of the viewer can perceive the organic process behind the creation.
The subjects chosen belong to the daily life of Palazzi. Some of the faces of his characters belong to his family, friends and close ones, and they are immersed in natural, simple little moments that quite often portray happiness and joy. His treatment of lights reflects his internal search for beauty and enlightenment, the same enlightenment that he represents with ray of light behind the head of the women and animals as a sign of wisdom and awareness.
The entire body of work communicates a positive feeling about life and existence, where the little things and details matters, and Art is an excuse to talk about them with the right terms. His palette, vivid and wide, is visibly “pop” and well thought (the association of colors he manage to present are extremely pleasing to witness), in order to convey his approach to the world and its meaning. Experiencing his imagery you will be struck by his sense of humor as well, which is in play through jokes he creates between the titles of the artworks and the image itself. Not only “Dwanggedachten” is a must see occasion because of all the reasons stated above, but the Art of Palazzi in his whole is a great example of what the Art of this century should be.
Rediscovering William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain (and Beyond)
As the result of the collaboration between the Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya (Barcelona) and the Fundación Juan March (Madrid), the show William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Great Britain is a meaningful celebration of a revolutionary man, who was a designer, as well as an artisan, a manufacturer, a writer, a conservationist, a social agitator and more.
The show gathers more than 300 hundred objects that come from British institutions and private collections. It is a great occasion to better understand his philosophy through these objects. Morris was a versatile, outstanding thinker, whose numerous talents and enormous energy fueled him throughout his life. He believed that the decorative arts were as important as other visual media, such as painting and sculpture. He worked to return to handcrafting methods in opposition to the systems of mass production that were established during his lifetime (1834-1896).
He defended a simple, ideal life that lauded Nature as the main source from which to seek enlightenment, adopting domestic objects characterised by their quality and functional character, together with the authenticity of the techniques and materials used. He pretty much stood against the industrial revolution and the huge social problems it brought with it. Instead, he would agree with Ruskin, who addressed the role of pleasure within work, through enjoying labour that was not mechanical and repetitive; men’s and women’s lives would be more meaningful, thanks to the creative jobs through which they could be satisfied with the making of their goods.
Morris was reclaiming the restoration of the unity of Arts and Craftmanship (a concept stretching back to the Middle Ages). He was followed in this by notable friends and fellow artists such as Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who supported his beliefs and collaborated on numerous projects. In 1861, he started a decorative arts business called the William Morris and Co., setting up a factory making wallpaper, furniture, and other beautifully made objects. Together with his wife, Jane Burden, he had moved in 1860 to the Red House, in South East London (Bexleyheath), where everything was designed and realised either by Morris or his close friends (Philip Web was the architect-collaborator).
One of his famous mottoes was ‘You should have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be beautiful or believe to be useful’, suggesting that others should be selective and have fewer things with both a function and an appeal, according to a vision, and a lesson, that could still be very useful in our contemporary world, where we are continually struggling with inequality in society produced by the economic system we live in today. He was ahead of his time on many levels, seeing the importance of issues that were not only aesthetic, but moral.
The theories and the work of Morris inspired designers and other visionaries who shared his same hopes to increase the quality of human life itself. In Spain, Barcelona was the place where the spirit of Morris probably flourished the most (you can see an example by checking out places like the interior of Casa Amatller, the stunning masterpiece by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, right next to Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia), and the selection of the MNAC as a place to show these artworks, turns out to be just the perfect location (the MNAC has a great Moderniste collection too).
Hopefully, his views on existence can be rediscovered upon the occasion of this show, where the viewer will have the chance to see what sorts of gorgeously patterned marks this man has left as his legacy.
Understanding and connecting with a piece of art that is not necessarily a figurative object might be difficult sometimes for those who are not part of the art world. The cold structure of an installation quite often can leave the common viewer with distant, skeptical feelings about a work. Fortunately, that is not what you experience with the art of Ernesto Neto, no matter where it is encountered. The biomorphic quality of the objects he offers up to be touched and walked around/in/underneath immediately make us curious about his sinuous, organic universe.
For those yet unfamiliar with Neto’s practice, now’s probably the time to pay him full attention. For the occasion of his first solo show in Barcelona, currently on view at BlueProject Foundation, he’s created a unique installation with a clear, universal theme, suitable for both adults and children. His renown minimalism assumes the shape of a knitted net, irregular in shape and full of colour (whilst many of his works have been realised in white elastic material), letting viewers connect ideologically with his country of origin, Brazil.
The work Um dia todos fomos peixes fills an entire room, which viewers are encouraged to actively discover, with the pattern of Neto’s netting acting as a vague reminder of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Visitors are asked to remain present inside, slowing down and entering a more playful, softer atmosphere — submerged in a blue dream of swirls, spirals and massive cascades of material scented with aromatic spices.
On opening night, Neto could be found leading by example, busy meditating. Others, following his lead, sat down and abandoned themselves for a few pleasant moments inside the rich sea-like realm. Read on for questions I was lucky enough to pose to the artist, originated during my own encounter with his most recent work…
See the video of the show at Blueporject Foundation in Barcelona
For you, what is the role of art in this moment of history?
Neto: I see art as a mediator, art as the in-between, as the ‘Linha Organica’ from Lygia Clark or Brancusi’s ‘kiss’, all over the net of subjectivisms around us, moving, blowing…art…art…art, everywhere and nowhere. In this scientific, productive and objective society, where our time and knowledge have been sliced apart, art is the subjective space, the invisible, it fills the spiritual void. Museums have become the new temples and culture the new muse, but we are nature. There is a gap between the mental and the spiritual dimensions, and this is affecting art. In this pluralised, cultural word we live in, art represents the multicultural shock that ties it all together, acting as a medicine, curing, healing.
But I’m afraid that as in Western medicine, art is nowadays treating only the symptoms, representing the symptoms that art in fact can cure and heal through the cultural body. One day we may take a further step, who knows, arriving in a moment in which we all would be an artist; I believe in the possibility of homo erectus, homo sapiens, homo modernus… and finally… homo artisticus, a time when we all would be an artist, when art would be completely integrated (weird word) into our self and daily life, poetry would be in every gesture, every step.
Can you tell us more about the title of the show? It is a reminder?
Neto: This title connects us to our ancestors, very far away in time, connects us to the deep blue ocean and to nature as a whole — from the microbes to the stars — to show us that, beyond our cultural differences, there is unity between us. Perhaps we are facing a time when it will be more delightful to pay attention to, to feel, more of what is common among us, rather than our cultural differences. This is a spirituality; the question is posed to be answered by our heart, not by our mind, seems to me, and I’m not alone in feeling that we have the answers in our heart, when we get free from our dialectic mind activity, by meditating, singing, dancing….
And if we have the courage, or if you prefer, the simplicity, the humbleness to listen our heart, to feel love inside of us and in-between everything around, from the atom to the big bang, we receive the light. There is a fish inside of us, there are many fishes inside all of us; it is time to listen to our planet, Mother Earth, through our heart. Books can help, but light shines from inside the deep multicolour blue that belongs to us all.
In consideration of the title of the work built around us, do you think we still have time enough to embrace nature and follow its lessons?
Neto: Well, I feel there is no way out, the time is now, nature can teach us… it’s already teaching, there is a soft transformation going on, there is a blue on this green, a yellow on this orange, a purple on this red, spreading smoothly into our cells, through our DNA. A new era is coming, that’s why so much brutality and ugliness goes screaming around, they are feeling that their time has gone, love is gonna win, and love is nature.
Your installation at the BlueProject Foundation has been made just for the people visiting the show; what are you inviting them to do? I saw you meditating inside it, is it a mindful tool you’d recommend?
Neto: The sculpture I’m presenting is a skin, a layer in the air, hanging from the ceiling, landing down on the ground, spreading some smells, inviting the people to come in and to slow down. A body to be penetrated by our own bodies, full of air, its floorplan has the form of a fish. ‘One day we were all a fish’ is its title message. Hanging from the fish net body on the ceiling there are some connecting organelles meant to be interacted with; people can sit or lay down on the hard and cold concrete gallery ground and close their eyes, breath, meditate, ‘lose their time’ and, who knows, get connected our ancestors’ time, and/or with anything that this idea may suggest. Yourself, family, art, the planet, the heart is the portal, silence is a voice. Meditation is a path. It allows time to slow down, breathe and feel, and the blue fish is there to give us a hand and to give us a breath, to blow some air into our spirits and heal us.
The element of water and the metaphor with the sea…what do they represent to you?
Neto: Water is our mother, we all came from the water even before we were a fish. In our mother’s womb spaceship, we were in the water, we are made by water. I love to drink water, water mama, mama water. Water is life beyond culture; God water, love water, sea water, rain water, river water, earth water. Sea is the mysterious, the deep blue inside of us, salt sea, salt sweat, inside ocean, inside us…
And what’s your take on climate change?
Neto: We need to reconnect with nature, strongly and deeply. We and our ‘culture’ are becoming a poison, there’s too much greed, ego, vanity. We need the feminine force and energy to balance the subjective, we need our feet and fingers to counter-weigh the power of our mind. We need our body, our roots. We live in a multicultural world, but Western values are in power. Development, economics, science — these forces are very much objective and masculine, very respectable forces, but we are in a spiritual body, beyond the power of our mind. This spiritual intuitive energy became atrophied, yet this consciousness is the boat needed to deal with climate change. It is time to listen the people who are extremely connected to the planet, the monks and especially the indigenous peoples, they are nature’s voice.
On Video: Sergio Mora
Published on November 20, 2017 here
Nowadays, Barcelona is teeming with young creative talents. Probably one of the most original among the many is artist and illustrator Sergio Mora (@sergio.mora.art). Novel, bright, playful and a little cryptic, his work will no doubt stick firmly in the back of your mind from first glance.
In addition to completing wonderfully illustrated children’s books and collaborating with names such as Philippe Stark in Miami and the Italian fashion house Gucci, he has more recently finished working on whimsical new imagery for the indie pop musical group Love of Lesbian.
The pieces frothing forth from this latest collaboration enjoyed a viewing at Galeria Senda’s Lab 36. I met up with Sergio before the opening, and posed some questions to him concerning his practice and preferences, along with his major muses and influences (including those in the music industry). Lastly, I pry into what he thinks about the two sometimes disparate fields he’s been working in, fine art and illustration. Turns out, it’s sometimes just a matter of labels…
Santi Moix Shows His Roots
Published here on November 10, 2017 here
When we talk about Modernisme, Gaudí’s name is usually the only name that pops into people’s minds. However, his teacher, renown Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923), had already started writing the history of the style with landmarks such as the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana.
Inside the latter is the only concert hall regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage site, where much more than musical performances takes place. For the last five years it’s also been a spot where major contemporary artists have held large showcases of their work. Last year, Jaume Plensa made his mark with his massive, eye-bending sculpture Carmela. Other big names, like Bill Viola, Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith have all had the pleasure of occupying the Palau de la Música’s space.
Now it’s Santi Moix’s turn.
His series of ten new pieces harmoniously converses with the spirit of the Palau. Domènech i Montaner’s modernist architecture was inspired by Nature, and vegetal forms comprise its ornate motifs. Plants, flowers and leaves of all shapes decorate the majority of the building’s surfaces.
Using a similar language, Moix presents an expansive wall adorned with a monumental ceramic flower (that will soon alight upon the Sant Víctor de Saurí church), along with seven smaller blossoms in the Sala Lluís Millet. Additionally, another piece created just for this show sits in-situ, taking center stage in the heart of the concert hall.
This dynamic between twenty-first century art and a location loaded with historic significance creates an elegant synthesis. The viewer perceives an authentic allure emanating from both the lingering presence of the past and the immediate excitement common to contemporary artistic approaches. Moix, both a sculptor and a painter now living in New York City, is paying homage to the place he originally comes from. He also takes pride in re-interpreting its heritage, as noted in a recent article in The New York Times’ T Magazine.
The organic element, the bright, alive and deeply intense colours chosen, together with the omnipresence of sinuous lines (no sharp corners; soft, rounded shapes rule here) make a perfect recipe for a fascinating visitor experience. Walking in, one finds oneself trapped and captivated, Stockholm Syndrome style, by the lush, supple forms all around.
Next year, the Palau de la Música Catalana will host a body of work by Spanish artist Antonio López García, and it seems like this unique continuum will carry on bearing nourishing, bizarrely beautiful fruit — each year sweeter and juicier than the last.
Artigau: 50 Years of Painting
Published on August 16, 2017 here
It is always a privilege to view a gathering of artworks created by the same hand that hail from different eras, because through them you can admire how much an artist has grown and changed. Sometimes, you see a marked improvement in style, how sensibilities and awareness got sharper.
Such is the case of Catalan artist Francesc Artigau, who is currently enjoying a retrospective of the last five decades of his work in the Castel de Benedormiens, curated by Barbara Marchi in the city of Platja d’Aro along the Costa Brava.
The show is laid out across two floors, where Artigau’s vividly coloured paintings will continue to pop off the stone walls until the middle of September. Walking through the picturesque Castel, visitors are given the opportunity to admire choral scenes culled from the artist’s everyday life (his fascinating studio in Barcelona’s Born neighbourhood is the veritable soul of the art scene there).
Elements from his memories and actual people he has known during his life get mixed together in lively and spontaneous compositions, where echoes from ancient classical cultures and references to art history make cameo appearances here and there. Most notably there’s Artigau’s love for the figure of Max Beckman, a character who wanders into the painter’s frames multiple times, and stylised Picassoan faces.
Artigau is considered a master of drawing, having until recently taught for several years at the prestigious EINA University School of Art and Design. Thanks to his gregarious attitude he has always been surrounded by colleagues and friends, and respected by his contemporaries who often show up in his paintings, alongside a beloved canine friend named Trufa and the elegant French model Frederique.
Inspired by Mediterranean cultures and applauded by both critics and the vox populi, Artigau uses a plain and open language, that speaks to the heart with striking juxtapositions of bright hues. His blues recall Grecian tides, his siennas offer up memories of trips to Tuscany, and so on.
The artist was born into a family of Barcelona-based theatre craftsmen, and he assisted his father in making stage props throughout his teen years. Artigau was strongly influenced by Professor F.P. Verrie, and clings to a passion for Piero della Francesca. His works can be seen in many public and private Spanish collections, and he continues to work daily in his timeless studio on Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, where he’s been breathing life into his creations since 1966.
In this page you will find about my daily overviews about the things that struck me in this contemporary world, and in particular in the ART world.