Acrylic paintings: The Andalusia Arches Hope and Rewards

A poet once wrote about Andalusia:

“A sun dwells in this place and even its shadow is blessed.
In this palace a multitude of pleasures capture the eye and suspend the intellect.
Here a crystal world teaches marvels.
Everywhere Beauty is carved, opulence is manifest.”

In Spain, the Andalusian or Islamic architecture is elaborate; it is highly decorative and ornate with intricate designs. Materials that were once favoured include stone, stucco, and plaster for coating exterior walls. Later on, the stone was replaced with brick – a great example of this is the fortress palace of Alhambra constructed in the 14th century in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. The word “Alhambra” literally translates as “the red one”, referring to the red bricks used to make this incredible palace.

The  palace of Alhambra has dazzled viewers and inspired artists from all over the world, with its breathtaking architecture, gorgeous gardens and intricate design work on the walls and arches of the palace.

Notable artists inspired by this “pearl set in emeralds” include M.C. Escher; indeed, the Alhambra provided him with the very foundation for his work and signature style. First visiting in 1963, Escher was drawn to and inspired specifically by the tile patterns of the palace: the repetitions of geometrical shapes and floral patterns would be famously represented and experimented with in his work.

And, as s the opening quotation from a poet shows us, authors were also inspired by this incredible place. Washington Irving resided at the Alhambra for some time, and from this stay produced Tales of the Alhambra.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alhambra, created in the Andalusian or Islamic tradition, continues to amaze and inspire – a testament to the power of art.  I myself, as an artist, am incredibly influenced by and drawn to the artwork of this palace and the Andalusian period – the patterns and designs are so beautiful that I can’t help but want to represent them. However, I am drawn in and attracted to this era not just due to the visual beauty of these patterns but also because of just how rich an era the Andalusian period was.

During this period, the progress and creation didn’t stop with the erection of incredible monuments such as the Alhambra – indeed, the era witnessed a commitment to the building and growth of community.  Education boomed: math, architecture, literature, discussion … in doing so, discourse and relations between different sects  and religions was encouraged. There was a laying down of difference in the interest of peaceful coexistence, in the interest of culture, community and creation.  To me,  community governed by peace, and art, is the epitome of beauty, and it is revealed in the intricate designs and art work at Alhambra and other architecture in the Andalusian style.

My paintings, Andalusia Arches, have all of this within them – I was striving to not just represent the physical beauty of this architecture, but to recall and infuse the paintings with the spirit of peace and community of the era.  To me, the architecture of this time period,  like these arches, is a physical representation of what can be created when there is community.  These arches represent both the hope that the human race can have when all live together without fear of persecution and the reward that we receive after hard work as a community.  Gazing at artwork such as these arches provides us with a sense of calm and happiness; I hope that when you look at these pieces of mine, you can imagine relaxing in a place of great beauty, under the hot Spanish sun.

Happy Warm Canadian Day

Happy Warm Canadian Days

Happy Warm Canadian Day

Oil Paintings: Picasso in Toronto

In just a few short weeks (March 31st, to be exact), tickets go on sale for “Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso” , an exhibition which begins May 1st.  That Picasso is coming to the AGO is incredibly exciting: this particular exhibit will have over 150 works that he has handpicked,  meaning that there will be pieces from all his different periods: the Blue Period, the Rose Period, the African-Inspired Period, and more.

At Warm Colours, we are so excited to catch this exhibition. In honour of this event in Toronto, I would like to take a look at two particular pieces of Picasso’s that I find incredibly profound. I’m not sure if they will be at the exhibition, but even if they are not, they are worth looking at!

The first one is “The Old Guitarist”, one of his most famed Blue Period oil paintings.  Picasso’s Blue Period (1901-1904) was four years in which he primarily painted with only dark colours, shades of blue and greys, with very little use of warmer colours. Working with these colours, Picasso was able to even more deeply explore the dark content and subjects he was portraying: those affected by poverty,  the misfits of society, the grim realities of the streets.

“The Old Guitarist” is certainly in keeping with this sober tone: the torn clothing and gaunt complexion of this old man indicate his poverty;

there is no warm light coming from behind him, and his setting looks cold and lonely.  His skin looks frighteningly pale, and the attention to his thin frame, from the sinews in his neck to his bony ankles brings chills.  However, the painting does more than just depress the observer. While there is a great sense of sorrow, there is also

something oddly inspiring and moving – something about the way that he is wrapped around the guitar, something in the delicacy of his fingers as they glide across the strings: music is his life.  This is true in the practical sense of how he may use this to busk in the streets and acquire change for food, but also in a wider sense:  it sustains his spirit. The painting speaks to both the sadness in our world, in how art  and man are not cherished – but it also speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit when we have art in our lives.  Through his guitar, the old man can give voice to his sorrows, to his existence.

The second painting I call your attention to is radically different from “The Old Guitarist”. It is actually the one used in the advertisement for the exhibition at the AGO,  Picasso’s “Portrait of Dora Maar” (1937, post-Cubist period). Dora Maar was a Yugoslavian photographer and artist and Picasso’s mistress. I am drawn to this painting – and so am delighted it is being used in advertisement for the exhibition – because of his use of colour and shape. Much has been said of Picasso’s Cubism and his distortion of the human figure, but I am always struck at how Picasso can distort the human figure in a way that it is beautiful – not just that it remains beautiful, but that it almost becomes even more beautiful through the distortion and bold use of unexpected color.  While the smallness of the room around the female figure does give a sense of confinement, I am drawn more to the gracefulness in her hand on her cheek, to the small smile that plays on her lips. It is a very loving portrait – perhaps a more quiet vibrancy than some of his other paintings, but vibrancy, delight and love all the same.

If you can, check out the exhibit on Picasso when it comes to Toronto this spring!  ? Follow this link

to learn more about the exhibition, to find out how to purchase tickets,  and to learn more about the master himself!

And let me know below: what are some of your favourite Picasso pieces? Does he inspire you?