ART WORKS on our behalf

ART WORKS on our behalf

by Norman Warwick

Sidetracks And Detours recently posted an interview  with artist Sigrid Braun Umbach (left), which contributed to a debate about What Is Good Art And What Good Is Art? Although we had never previously met Sigrid before and, indeed, having not previously been aware of her work it became apparent throughout that interview that Sigrid is well aware of not what art can contribute to the community but also comfort and satisfaction the creation of art can provide to its creator. She was, perhaps, somewhat about how the creative proicess works, and why, and seemed content, perhaps to let ´let the mystery be´ to quote the words of singer writer Iris DeMent, about whom we will posting to these pages shortly. A recent e mail from Sigrid, however, including some reproductions of some very recent works, showed us how she and her art can remain contemporary and can call and respond to the wider world and its events.

´Since September 19th,  2021 lava has flowed from the volcano Cumbre Vieja on La Palma´, she reminded me.

´The air is filled with the noise of a big jet taking off, the earth shakes almost continuously, thousands of people have lost their houses and their land as  meter-high lava rolls over everything unchecked. Where previously there were fincas, banana plantations, grain fields, tomato and fruit trees, the land is covered by black, sometimes still glowing lava.

Fortunately, most of the smoke from the northeast trade winds is blown away from the island, but a large part of la Palma is still covered with ash. However, the lava flows into the sea, and already after two and a half months the area of ​​the island has increased by many hectares.

For about 20 years I have been living several months every year on Lanzarote, an island that was also formed and re-shaped by volcanic eruption. The island´s Timanfaya volcano formed an area 300 years ago that previously had been freshwater springs, in whose gently rolling hills the granary of the Canaries lay.

When, after six years, the volcano ceased its eruptions Lanzarote wore a new and completely different face. The island was almost depopulated and its remaining people had no more livelihoods

It was only with the advent of tourism in the 20th century that new economic perspectives emerged for the population when the devastated volcanic landscape became perceived perceived as interesting and subsequently was classified as a world natural heritage.

Sigrid  recognises now that the feeling she experienced when first visting Lanzaote and drew her to partially re-locate to here ,´was the experience of being close to the process of the creation of the earth´.

 ´With what recently happened on the “neighboring island” 400 kilometers away, this aspect moved into awareness in a new way and immediately called for an artistic examination of current events.´

Sigrid has therefore begun to explore the fissures, eruptions and lava flow in a series of paintings that seem to us at Sidetracks And Detours, even in these second-generation reproductions to capture a heat and a ferocity and inevitability that could not be withstood.

To see more of her work like those shown above you can tap into http://kunstraumsteglitz.de/virtuell/

an eclectic and interesting gallery carrying some Sigrid´s art in virtual format.

Then you can compare and contrast Sigrid´s approach and attitude with that of Ildefonos Aguiller, another much loved arts practitioner on Lanzarote. For futher details of Aguiller´s art, simply type his name into our archive search and tap on the article called Geology And Art, dated July 2021.

Another volcanic force might be a way to also describe the artist Vincent Van Gogh, who is still having an effect on the way we look at art today.

photo ob My friend and former writing colleague Seamus Kelly wrote about the artist only recently in The Rochdale Observer on the all across the arts page once controlled by me and Robin Parker, and now in the steady, guiding hands of Steve Cooke.

The piece by Seamus informed us that Salford is the latest of seventy five cities world-wide to show the ´Van Gogh Álive´ multi-sensory experience that includes projected pictures, quotes and information and lots of  moving images and video all supported by a soundtrack of classical music.

And, with such a track record for the event, Seamus told us, he hoped to be impressed.

Before entering the multimedia main exhibit there is a chance to see, and have photograph taken, ina replica of the bedroom at Arles, made famous by his series of three painting created during Van Gogh´s fourteen month stay,  during which he was joined by Paul Guagan for two months, who worked alongside him.

Stepping into the large exhibition space brought us the first experience of feeling surrounded by colour, palette and brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh.

Seeing his works magnified on the large screens we are struck by his bold brushwork and, then revolutionary, use of colour.

The experience charts his career as a painter which lasted just nine years until his tragic death in 1890 at Auvers sur Olse. Fortunately Van Gogh was a prolific artist, producing over 900 paintings and almost 1,300 drawings and sketches on paper. The experience shows a wide range of his work from his famous self-portraits to his Japan-inspired works as well as those from Holland, France and Belgium.

With projections from the multiple screens thrown on to the walls and even on to the floor, often simultaneously showing different images, videos and quotations it pays to move around to view the Van Gogh Alive experience from different positions.

A very clever touch is that of some of the projected paintings having added animated elements, such as a moving image of crows flying over the painted cornfield, and similarly of petals falling from the blooming almond trees.

A smaller room is filled with artificial sunflowers. Mirrors all around, including one on the ceiling create a powerful sensation of feeling surrounded by those flowers that Van Gogh famously painted.

When leaving the exhibition visitors are invited to create their own drawing of Starry Night, (in five minutes !) and Bedrooms In Arles (in ten minutes) guided by video demonstrations.

Whether you have a little or a lot of knowledge about the works of Vincent Van Gogh, perhaps one the most influential of modern artists, this experience is at once informative, entertaining, educational and powerfully moving.

Looking at art is good for the human spirit, says Seamus, and as Vincent himself wrote, ´I have nature and art and poetry and if that is not enough, then what is enough?´

Check out https://vangoghalive.com

When we recently attended the inauguration of a new exhibition to run through December 2021 at La Casa Del Culture in Yaiza we were delighted to see the biggest crowd we had seen at such an event in a long time. This is a charming little gallery, of three rooms each a step up or down from the other. With a large assembly gathered outrside even before the doors opened at 7.00 pm. We than all filed in, leaving our track and trace details in our efforts to confuse covid to the ´top´ room.

Even at first glance her paintings here (left) cast their spell. There were a dozen or so works all showing crowds of people. These were fully formed an ´realisti´figures, yet there were traces of Lowry work such as Going To The Match. That Lowry work is very much of its time, but these paintings were definitely of the here and now, so perhaps i was not being too fanciful in thinking that whilst these wordks could be described as ´crowd scenes´ they were displaying, too, a grudging deference to social-distancing and the pandemic threat. As  I was forming my thoughts on all this, and desperately trying to pull into the front of my brain the name of an artist I associate with similar work from the back of my mind I was distracted by a polite request to pay heed to a speaker who was about to officially open the exhibition.

I looked up to see the speaker was, in fact, a man we know well from our previous meanderings down Sidetracks And Detours, and who has, in fact, previously been the subject of a major feature on these pages.

´We live in turbulent times’, he began ´but I am firmly convinced that art has never been as valuable as it is today.

My name is Burkhard Bensmann (right) and I am an executive consultant and coach. I have the honor to say a few introductory words.

In these times, which are still ruled by a pandemic, it has become clear to many of us that our own skin is getting thinner and thinner, that we are either becoming more irritable or withdrawing.

Our time still seems to be determined by digital distraction and I find myself in good company when I confess that I too am addicted to my smartphone.

The scarcest commodity is not money or time, but attention. This attention is worth real money, and that’s why it keeps buzzing and ringing, the smartphone pulls us out of focused work or a good conversation.

What can we do to regain control and self-determination? Art plays a special role here.

As I said at the beginning – it has never been as valuable as it is today.

Art offers us possibilities:

We can meditate on the works of artists by going to exhibitions.

We can share our impressions about art with others and thus enter into a real dialogue.

We can purchase works from artists. A sculpture or a picture can transform our own house and give us moments of reflection or simply joy every day.

Of course, we can also be creative ourselves and explore shapes and colors.

I believe that art strengthens our mental immune system, especially in these times.

Earlier in my life, I was studying in a faculty called Communication & Aesthetics”. It is precisely these two terms that I recommend to you today on the occasion of this exhibition: Let us once again determine our communication and let us take every opportunity to lead an aesthetic life, that is

  • train your own perception and broaden your perspective,
  • to find phases of leisure,
  • to experience the diversity of the senses,
  • to shape our own lifestyle and with it,
  • to shape your own life.

The works of (tonight´s artists) Brigitte and Javier are the aesthetic invitation today. In the constellation of works shown here, we can experience how sculpture and image interact as forms of expression.

In the digital age we need analog breaks. And so I come to the final appeal: take advantage of these and many other opportunities to give direct communication and aesthetic experience a large space in your life.

Thank you to the artists who invest their time to create stimulating works for us that engage our senses and expand our perspectives, thank you to Brigitte and Javier and thank you all for your attention!

Now, enjoy this exhibition of Imagen y Forma, Brigitte Riesco and Javier Ibañez, here in Casa de la Cultura, Yaiza, Lanzarote´.

Brigitte´s work has also been prefaced in Cooltura Lanzarote with high praise indeed.

¨´Primary sector, natural beauty, peace and happiness, are the sensations that Brigitte Riesco leaves with her pictorial sample inspired by Lanzarote, representing the work of its people, landscapes, shapes, moments and colours´. As Coolture are one of the arts influencers on the island that we hold in high regard and trust in their judgement such praise is ´pretty high cotton´ for any artist.

¨The paintings maintain a close connection with the traditions of the Island and the life of the countryside´, the piece continued.

´Using acrylic and tempera techniques, the Swiss artist interprets in her canvases the efforts of women and men in agricultural and livestock farms and the fruits of these sacrifices, although she also teaches relaxed moments in pilgrimages, parties, chores and talks among friends giving prominence to the beauty of the insular landscape and uniqueness of the architecture of their villages, very present in the artistic exhibition´.

Brigitte Riesco has known Lanzarote for three decades but only decided four years ago to come and reside here to stay on the Island of the Volcanoes four years ago. Her works are the product of the walk, experiences and vision of an artist, always recording photographs and making quick drawings in situ.

The welcome had been warmly delivered by Burkhart and well received and I´m pretty sure the trail of viewers approached the work with even keener interest.

It had nudged something in my thought processes, too, as I drew a line from the scenes of a Paris Street; Rainy Day from 1877, the best known work of French painter Gustave Caillebotte. The painting was last shown on Third Impressionist Exhibition in Paris. Dec 13, 2016.

I am less familiar with the work of contemporary artist Olha Darchuk but her name, too, came flowing down the back roads, ever gentle on my mind, as I looked more intently at Brigitte´s entrancing crowd scenes. Most showed people with their backs to the viewer, often seemingly walking through drizzly, murky conditions, bathed by a strange glowing light, of which the viewer could not quite identify a form or location.

It was therefore something of a conundrum to decide whether that light represented some sort of hope or was in fact luring people into danger. It was hard to know whether that light represented the malevolence or the medicine.

This exhibition rewarded all kinds of study; what were the age and gender specifics of the assemblies shown, what were the class demographics. Were some more immune than others, and how so, and why? Were these people coming or going?

Perhaps when we reduce (or should I say enhance) these works to that purely aesthetic level as Burkhart referred to in his welcome speech, none of that matter. The colours were beautifully subdued, the sense of time and space seemed precisely calculated on the canvas and you could almost feel the dampness of perpetual light rainfall as you engaged with some of the works. Still, though, I was wondering if these were scenes of people striding towards a new dawn or walking gently ´into that good night`  of which  Dylan Thomas wrote.

In the second room there were landscapes of Lanzarote, reminding us somehow of this earth and this particular island and its great resilience against whatever is thrown at it. These served as a reminder, to me at least, of Man´s vulnerability but offered, too, the hope of re-invention and re-generation.

In the third room we moved into ´celebrity´ with moody monochromatic studies of the likes of Marilyn Monroe and fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld. Dramatic and stark, they were perhaps nevertheless a reminder that thanks to being preserved by the arts ´age shall not weary them´.

At discrete points along the walkways were posted interesting sculptures that at every point somehow nudged me to look again at the paintings around them. Some of these sculptures were graceful and beautifully smoothed and curved and others were more angular and somehow functional looking.

Every piece of work, painted or sculpted, we looked at it in this exhibition had me thinking about the real world and the purpose of art and of art with a purpose.

It was a reminder that even when following sidetracks and detours we have to look at for roundabouts and crossroads and traffic lights.

Another of our favourite artists returns to Lanzarote in the New Year to support her exhibition running at The Lanzarote Art Gallery on to the end of January 2022. The exhibition, El Jardin De Las Mariposas has been created by Masqali (left), an artist we have featured previously in these pages. You can learn more about Masquali and her work in an article entitled Moments Converted into Geometry and posted on 15th December 2020, which can still be found in our easy to navigate archives. The inauguration of her work, with free admission for media and invited guests, took place at 7pm on 2nd December 2021.

Masqali, (Cartagena, 1969) begins to exhibit in 2003 and continues a constant trajectory recognized by multiple awards. Through different textures and materials, using acrylics, gold, gouache, sand, various pencils and objects on canvas, he shows us a personal universe, accompanying us on a journey of shapes and colors, a mosaic of suggestions evoked by the Ethiopian people.  In his works, the abstract dimension dominates, where form is the result of the encounter between world and man, in an alternation of approach to reality, and abstraction.

The Butterfly Garden will collect a wide selection of the artist’s paintings made between 2020-21. Much of Masqali’s production over the years has focused on the realization of abstract works, with the intention of fixing the strength of feelings through an explosion of colors, which give rise to a harmonious composition of forms. When it abandons the geometric rigor of forms, the wording of color is free and approaches the figurative dimension.

The works will be presented through a large installation project specially designed by the artist for the exhibition space of Lanzarote Art Gallery.
  A major selection of works will be on display from December 2, 2021, to January 31, 2022. (LV de 11: 30-14: 00 y de 17: 30-20: 30 horas).   Lanzarote Art Gallery is an Art Room I have written about both for Lanzarote Information and my own daily not-for-profit blog of Sidetracks And Detours. The Gallery is widely recognized for showing the consolidated and emerging talent in which to invest now in the creators who are shaping our way of consuming design and art. Get ready to contemplate your surroundings from a new vision, with the power of art that will lead you to understand the everyday and the tiny in a simple way, on a journey through beauty.   Lag logo The Gallery also contributes to this essay on the work Art does on our behalf with some cryptic comments of a more ephemeral nature about its contribution to the perpetuity of cultural memory. They use a collection they call Natural Impulses to argue this point, saying,  ´ Poster Natural Impulses… When on earth, beings with different life experiences come together in their fantasy and creation world, such impressive situations can happen, that sometimes, they give rise to myths and legends that will persist for a long time.   And then, sustained by the belief of those who discover them, their fantasies come to life.   Artists who achieve this include Adriana Casati -Brazil, Alejandro Carbó-Argentina, Liam Porisse-France, Luciana Mendonça- Brazil, Martha Parra- Mexico, Natalia Abreu-Uruguay, Silvia Azevedo-Brazil, Silvio Martinez Cabrera-Cuba, Tania Martins-Brazil´   Check on-line at www.lanzaroteartgallery.com for this virtual exhibition which will run throughout December to view works and details of these artists and they will surely confirm and to reassure yourself about how art works so hard on our behalf !

We also have a favourite gallery across on the Spanish mainland.

The building harboring the gallery has been built in place of an old olive pressing facility which laid against a great typical rocky mauresque wall of the XVII century. The gallery offers 4 areas for exhibitions from 35 to 70m2 on 3 levels, two terraces, one being 70m2 and the other 50m2. The largest one allowing to exhibit art that can sustain external conditions and welcome guest during openings.

The design of the building respects the local architectural spirit with a modern twist (cortene steel balconies, wide windows…) its interior is based on raw cement some of it painted in white under a red steel supporting structure, steel staircases and zenithal lighting using light wells made out of glass.

This architecture therefore has the purpose of helping the visitor travel from a down-to-earth state of mind to an open minded journey where the imagination is stimulated by the art.

The Adsubian Gallery kindly keeps us informed of their artists and exhibitions and told us recently about an artist who describes herself as ´essentially self-taught although I have been training in different academies, courses and in the painting school “Salvador Fuster”.

Angeles Portana Lopez is a Member of the Association of Painters La Palette Du Monde, 2013 • 1st PRIZE. Small format competition Anna Andreu Art Tarragona Gallery, October 2013. • Selected small format competition Paz Tejón Valencia Gallery, May 2013 • Selected in the rapid painting contest in Murcia, April 2015 Gold Medal of the Forum Europe Foundation 2001, for professional recognition, Hotel Westin Palace. Madrid. 2017

You can see selections of Angeles´´ work (right) on the gallery web site and I am sure you will agree it could also be described as an example of how art works hard on our behalf. The work is massively aesthetically pleasing whilst at the same time seeming contemplative of the relationship between humankind and nature.

There is often peace to be found in her work, though whether that serenity exists already, or remains an aspiration viewers might have to consider for themselves. What is certain, though, is that tranquillity is around us when we stop and engage with her art.

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