Travels

Studios in different cities: ideal, but where is the problem? by Michele Del Campo

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ENGLISH: I love working in my new studio in Valencia, even though I continue living, working and exhibiting in London. But there is a problem when one is working in two cities, how do you plan your painting in the second city in order to finish it in time and take it back with you in your main city? This puts some pressure on me, as I never like to be forced by the events to leave a painting unfinished and then go back to it after several weeks. In fact I have abandoned various promising paintings because i did not finish them when i had the inspiration for them. Therefore my paintings in Valencia must be planned according to the time that I have available, but here is the problem: art is not a science, and I find it impossible to predict how much time I need to finish a painting! In fact my efficiency is very variable and I am amazed at my speed in rendering certain things that in the beginning looked difficult, and, in contrast, my slowness in painting other things that looked quite easy to do (and many times it depends on the day...).

Said this, I am proud of how I managed my time in this occasion in Valencia, as I finished a quite laborious painting and managed to bring it back with me yesterday, in the flight to London. I owe a big part of the achievement to the "Liquin" medium (Winsor and Newton), which speeds up the drying process of oils, so I could roll up the canvas into a tube without problem. This painting will be exhibited in Art in Action, Oxford next week, during my four-days painting demonstration. I hope that you will find the time to come along and enjoy the fair!

 

ESPAÑOL: Me encanta trabajar en mi nuevo estudio de Valencia, aunque siga viviendo y exponiendo en Londres. Pero hay un problema cuando se trabaja en dos ciudades, y es cómo planificar la pintura para que, durante los días de estancia en una ciudad, puedas terminar la obra que hayas empezado para podértela llevar luego contigo en la otra ciudad. Esto me pone un poco de presión, porque nunca me gusta dejar un cuadro a medio acabar y luego volver a ponerme tras una pausa de varias semanas. De hecho, he abandonado varios cuadros que prometían bien, por no haberlos acabado cuando tenía la inspiración para esa pieza. De esta manera, mis cuadros en Valencia tienen que ser planificados según el tiempo que tengo a disposición, pero el arte no es una ciencia y encuentro imposible predecir cuánto tiempo necesito para acabar una obra, de hecho mi rendimiento es muy variable y me asombra mi velocidad en pintar ciertas cosas que parecían difíciles y, en contraste, mi lentitud para pintar otras que parecían faciles (y muchas veces depende de cómo me siento cada día...).

Dicho esto, estoy orgulloso de cómo he sabido gestionar esta vez mi tiempo en Valencia para acabar a tiempo mi última obra y poderme llevar el lienzo, ya parcialmente seco (gracias al milagroso medium de secado rápido "Liquin", de Winsor and Newton), conmigo en el avión para Inglaterra, donde lo expondré en Oxford la próxima semana durante la feria Art in Action.

 

 

"The Newborn" by Michele Del Campo

ENGLISH: It has been a long time since I have not been posting in my blog, but I have been very busy in various matters. Here I show a painting that I did in Valencia in January 2014, "The Newborn", for which I painted the environment from life and the 6-months old child from a picture. I am proud of saying that the child is my own daughter Irene, but she did not pose on the terrace, as the direct sun is dangerous for the skin of babies, she posed in an interior instead. For a painter who is based in London, Valencia's lavish sun in winter is such a treat and painting outdoors is a pleasure not to be missed.  

ESPAÑOL: Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde mi último post, y eso es porque he estado muy ocupado en varios asuntos. Esto es un cuadro que pinté en una terraza de Valencia en enero, se llama "Recién nacida". El paisaje lo pinté del natural, mientras la niña la añadí desde una foto mia. Estoy orgulloso de decir que la pequeña modelo de este cuadro es Irene, mi propia hija, de seis meses, pero ella no posó en la terraza, siendo el sol directo un peligro para la piel delicada de los bebés, sino en un interior. Para un pintor que trabaja en Londres, el generoso sol de Valencia en invierno es un regalo de tal valor que pintar al aire libre es un placer que no se puede desperdiciar.

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The painting in process

The forgotten side by Michele Del Campo

P1110163 The Forgotten Side, 116x162cm

ENGLISH: Valencia is a city that has always inspired me very much and which I have painted many times, even though it is not always recognizable in my work because I change the appearance of things. This summer, during my holidays in Valencia, I have found places very neglected and dirty but some of them had, under my point of view, a wonderful poetic, so I decided to go out and paint them. After several days searching, I found this waste ground in Calle Serpis, where a beautiful old sofa laid among broken furniture and rubbish. The sofa, still in good conditions, seemed to me an evocative presence among so much rubbish, it reminded

me of the human element and of intimate places, but here it was out of context. The image of the buildings behind and the rubbish in front seemed to me very powerful, symbolic of our times, of a degeneration of things. Above all, I found beautiful the strange play of lights and shadows over all those surfaces and I felt compelled to paint it. As I often do, I changed the scene and I placed a wall to separate the rubbish from the buildings, a symbolic suggestion, then I named the painting "The Forgotten Side".

I went all afternoons at the same time to paint the scene, starting from the rubbish to finish it as soon as possible, before the council sent collectors to clear the site. Nevertheless the city council, now very much in debt, and having cut public services, visits very sporadically places like this one, but it was the people who sometimes came to search through the rubbish, moving or breaking things that I was painting. In fact I have noticed that in Valencia, after so much politic corruption has impoverished the population, there are now so many people, especially immigrants, that rummage into the rubbish to recycle everything possible, without complex or shyness, and so it happened in this place many times, with people searching about also while I was painting.

The experience has been very enjoyable also for the contact with the neighbors, that passed by every day when the sun went down and it was less hot, to walk their dogs or just to come and see the progress of my work, which, in the beginning, seen from their balconies they had never imagined that it would be focused on the rubbish. They were astonished that they liked my painting as they had never thought that this rubbish would inspire anyone. It is such a good sensation to see that you can manage to transmit an idea of beauty where it is not so obvious!

The rubbish was cleared out the day after a newspaper covered the news of my painting. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but luckily I had already finished that part and I was painting the buildings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftdv_gfGaLg

 

ESPAÑOL: Valencia es una ciudad que me ha siempre inspirado mucho y que he pintado muchas veces, aunque en mis cuadros no sea siempre reconocible porque frecuentemente cambio la aparencia de las cosas. Este año de vacaciones en Valencia he encontrado lugares muy desatendidos y sucios, y algunos tenían, según mi punto de vista, una poética maravillosa, así que decidí salir a la calle a pintarlos. Tras buscar varios días para decidir, encontré este solar público, en la calle Serpis, donde un viejo sofa muy bonito yacía entre escombros y muebles rotos. El sofa, todavía en buenas condiciones, me pareció una presencia evocadora entre tanta basura, una presencia que hablaba de lo humano y de lugares íntimos, aquí sacado de contexto. La imagen de los edificios detrás y los escombros y la basura delante me pareció muy potente, simbólica de los tiempos que vivimos, de una degeneración de las cosas. Pero, sobre todo, me pareció que todo tenía una belleza extraña, inquietante, el juego de luces y sombras, las formas y los colores, sentí que tenía que plasmarlo. Cambié un poco la escena introduciendo un muro de separación entre los edificios y la basura, una sugerencia simbólica, de allí el título "El lado olvidado".

Todas las tardes, entonces, fui a pintar a la misma hora esa escena, empezando por la basura para acabarla lo más rápido posible antes de que el ayuntamiento la limpiara. Más que el ayuntamiento, el cual, tras las enormes deudas contraidas y los recortes a los servicios públicos hace pocas visitas a lugares como esto, era la gente corriente la que de vez en cuando removía las cosas o se llevaba piezas que yo estaba pintando. De hecho he notado en Valencia en los últimos años en los cuales la recesión y la corrupción política han sido responsables del empobrecimiento de una gran cantidad de población, que hay muchísima gente, sobre todo inmigrantes, escarbando en la basura, sin complejos y sin esconderse, y varias veces se han llevado piezas de muebles o han buscado otros materiales reutilizables delante de mi mientras pintaba.

La experiencia ha sido también muy bonita por el contacto con los vecinos, que pasaban cuando el sol ya estaba bajo y el calor disminuía, para pasear a sus perros o simplemente para ver qué estaba pintando yo, porque me veían de sus ventanas o balcones y no se imaginaban que era la basura el sujeto del cuadro. Algunos vecinos han vuelto regularmente simplemente para ver el progreso del cuadro.  Eso si, todos los vecinos desean que este solar, que hace algunos años era una típica "huerta", o tierra de cultivo, antes de ser expropiada para algún proyecto que nunca se ha llegado a realizar, sea cuidado con un mínimo de limpieza por el ayuntamiento.

"II Curso de Realismo y Figuración para pintores" with Antonio López by Michele Del Campo

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Antonio López setting up a still life

I knew that Antonio López García, one of the painters that I most admire for his work and philosophy, had started a few years ago to direct courses for painters in some Spanish cities. Many of the painters that were selected to participate were very enthusiast with the experience and tried to repeat it every year if they could. Antonio López's initiative is very admirable because there is a strong need for men of his rectitude and importance to revitalize a kind of realist painting, in general based on life studies, which is love for the truth, for the object of representation, for the painting work and the cultivated talent. Unfortunately these things are not taught anymore in most Fine Art universities, that is why Antonio López's contribution is so important. If I take myself as an example, I have always felt like an "outsider". I remember that in Milan, where I started to study Fine Arts, my painting tutor could only advise on abstract painting, being himself a minimalist abstract painter. I ended up frequenting the painting classes only to have a studio space and to have a life model available. Some years later, studying Fine Arts at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, I learned lots of things, but not much around painting, in fact I sensed that, if I wanted to be a painter, I almost had to avoid the painting classes, not to feel demoralized, especially the ones that, although called "Painting Projects", were lead by tutors that did not like painting at all. Their classes were in reality a breeding ground for installations, performance, ready-made and all kind of interventions and witticisms that had nothing to do with the painting work. There I lost a bit of self confidence and I thought that I was isolated, as very few people around me seemed to undertake my same journey, which pretended to be a difficult inner search for a creative expression in the territory of the realist painting that had to go beyond the mere appearance of things. Nevertheless, I could not imagine that there were more people like me, with similar anxieties and a similar mindset, but we were dispersed or almost hidden.

10771_170559649780874_2145268188_nAfter some years hearing about Antonio López's courses, which would always take place in the periods that I was less available, finally this year I decided to put everything aside and apply for a place in one of them, in Olula del Río, South Spain. This course, which lasts five days, takes place in the house-museum of another contemporary painter, younger but with a solid career and a very fine sensibility as a painter, Andrés García Ibañez, who acted also as a second guide for us. I was very happy to see that I had been selected, and when I arrived there I was as nervous as I was before the exams in the old days of university, knowing that I would be under scrutiny by Antonio López in person. The whole experience was marvelous, we did not only learn something new about technique and composition, but we also listened, discussed, inquired and reflected with the two "masters". Moreover it was a special feeling to find myself among 35 painters participating to the course, many of which already well-known professionals, who have the same interest for painting and knowledge. It was remarkable also the environment of modesty among the painters, perhaps more used to that lonely, silent and sometimes tough inner search, without much of that loud snob-ism that affects some other art forms that value the eccentricity and the whimsical talk to find an explanation to itself. All of us listened with much attention to the intelligent, sage words of Antonio López, knowing that from his long experience and his extraordinary talent we can learn many things, the same way that the good painters of the past knew that in reality nothing is invented from nothing, and that the tradition, built through many centuries of knowledge, is the best source of inspiration to renew art.

ESPAÑOL:

Here I am among Antonio López García and Andrés García Ibañez

Sabía que Antonio López García, uno de los pintores que más admiro por su trabajo y por su filosofía, había empezado a dirigir cursos para pintores en algunas ciudades españolas hace unos años, y que muchos de los pintores que superaban la selección para participar quedaban muy contentos con la experiencia, a tal punto que varios intentan repetirla cada año. La iniciativa de Antonio López es muy admirable porque creo que se necesitan como el oxígeno hombres de su talante para revitalizar una pintura realista, generalmente hecha del natural, que sea amor a la verdad, al objeto de la representación, al trabajo pictórico y al talento cultivado. Desafortunadamente esta pintura ya no se enseña en las facultades de Bellas Artes, y es por eso que es tan importante la aportación de Antonio López. Yo, por ejemplo, siempre me he sentido un "outsider", recuerdo que en Milán, donde empecé Bellas Artes, mi profesor solo sabía dar consejos sobre pintura abstracta, siendo él mismo pintor abstracto y minimalista. Yo acababa frecuentando las clases de pintura solamente para utilizar el espacio y aprovechar el modelo del natural. Unos años más tarde, estudiando Bellas Artes en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid aprendí mucho, pero no en pintura, de hecho entendí que si quería ser pintor tenía casi que evitar las clases de pintura para no desmoralizarme, sobre todo las que, aun llamándose convencionalmente "Proyectos de Pintura", estaban dirigidas por profesores a los cuales la pintura no les gustaba en absoluto y sus clases eran en realidad caldo de cultivo para performance, instalaciones, ready-made y todo tipo de intervenciones y ocurrencias que nada tenían que ver con el trabajo de la pintura. Allí perdí un poco la seguridad en mi mismo y empecé a creer que estaba aislado, ya que veía a muy pocos compañeros alrededor mío que parecían querer emprender mi mismo camino, que pretendía ser una difícil búsqueda interior de una expresión creativa en el territorio de la pintura realista y que fuera más allá de la simple aparencia de las cosas. Sin embargo, no me había dado cuenta que éramos más los que buscábamos lo mismo, pero dispersos o casi escondidos.

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Tras varios años oyendo hablar de los cursos de Antonio López, que pero siempre acontecían en períodos de poca disponibilidad por mi parte, por fin este año decidí poner todos mis compromisos a un lado y solicitar una plaza en el curso de Olula del Río, en Andalucía. Este curso se desarrolla a lo largo de cinco días en el espacio de la maravillosa casa-museo de otro pintor contemporáneo más jóven pero también muy bueno y de sólida trayectoria, Andrés García Ibañez, el cual también dirige el curso junto a Antonio López. Fue una alegría cuando supe que había sido seleccionado, y al llegar al curso estaba tan nervioso como lo estaba antes de los exámenes en los viejos tiempos de la facultad, sabiendo que quién iba a corregirme era Antonio López en persona. La experiencia ha sido maravillosa, no hemos solamente aprendido algo más en cuanto a técnicas y composición, sino que también hemos escuchado, preguntado, discutido y reflexionado. No menos importante, me he encontrado en un ambiente con 35 pintores participantes al curso, muchos de los cuales ya reconocidos profesionales, que tienen el mismo interés por la pintura y por el conocimiento. También me ha llamado la atención el ambiente de humildad entre los pintores, más acostumbrados quizás a esa solitaria, silenciosa y a veces dura búsqueda interior, sin esos ruidosos esnobismos que suelen afectar más a otras formas de arte que valora las excentricidades y el palabrerío para explicarse a sí mismo. Todos escuchábamos con atención las sabias palabras del gran maestro Antonio López, sabiendo que de su larga experiencia, unida a su gran talento, se puede aprender mucho, así como todos los buenos pintores del pasado sabían que en realidad nada se inventa de la nada, y que la tradición, construida a lo largo de tantos siglos de conocimiento y sabiduría, es la mejor guía para renovar el arte con sentido.

Antonio López García, the endless painting by Michele Del Campo

Lately I frequently travel to Spain since there I can find and access more easily the spaces that I need as backgrounds for my paintings, avoiding the bureaucratic obstacles and the rigidity of rules in England. In one of those trips, last September, I was bound to Valencia but I first passed through Madrid in order to see Antonio López García’s retrospective exhibition in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, just before it closed (it is still possible to see the exhibition, but it has now been transferred to the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao, where it will remain until 22 January). As I expected, it ended being one of those exceptional exhibitions that make you love art and, give you food for thought for a while.

I had already seen a few of Lopez’s works when I lived in Madrid but in the Thyssen Museum I was able to see all together 130 important pieces between paintings, sculptures and drawings. The exhibition, although it contained also important earlier work, concentrates especially on the artist’s last 18 years, which is the time from his last retrospective at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid.

For the frenetic pace of the XXI century society, an artist like Antonio López is an exceptional and mysterious case. In fact, many of the exhibited pieces have been developed throughout many years. Ten, fifteen or even twenty years are not exceptional cases within his production, moreover his work is never dispensed from further modifications in future. The artist himself writes in his brief introduction of the catalogue that many of the exhibited paintings are “in process” and there are others that he would continue retouching, some with radical changes, but he can’t because they have already been bought by collectors. In the artist’s words: “'the painting is never finished, it always remains open'. A painting can be abandoned because of insuperable difficulties, because there is a deadline or an exhibition opening date, because one is tired or he wants to start a new work. 'Therefore the painting remains suspended, but never finished'” (p. 36 exhibition catalogue).

Antonio López never works only on a piece at a time, he always works on several pieces, according to the inspiration of the moment. His work is often condensed in those 15 or 20 minutes of the day when the lighting and colour conditions are cyclically the same. The work is often interrupted when the season changes and it is resumed the following year. This way of working often leads him to drastic changes in composition, after reconsiderations or modifications in the reality, due to nature or to the human intervention on things. Thus, his paintings incorporate in their multiple layers of paint the intimate experience of a man who has grown up every day, every month and every year along with his subject matters.

For example, the painting “Terraza de Lucio”, which he started in 1962, was meant to be the portrait of three friends of the artist, Lucio, Amalia and Eusebio. However, Antonio López started the painting from the background, as he usually does, but, after a couple of seasons, he interrupted the work for some reason. Many years passed and, first Eusebio, then Lucio and finally Amalia, desappeared from this world. Nevertheless, Antonio passed by the old house by chance one day, asked his new tenants to see the old balcony and decided to ask them permission to continue the painting.

His three characters were never placed in the picture but in the cracks and the stains that the time has left lies the experience of the artist and the image of his old friends, while the fresh flowers that spread out in the terrace remind the cycle of life that always renews. The composition has been changed and readapted several times. This is testified by the number of boards put together like a puzzle around the central and original one.

Antonio López’s realism is not cold and mechanic. In fact, seen from life, his paintings with their dissolved and scattered patches of colours,  their visible corrections and dragged brush strokes, communicate love for both the process and the object represented. A love transmitted to both the expert viewer and the non-initiated. That obsessive gaze and that infinite patience to represent things while continuously transformed by the time are attitudes more proper of the intimist poet than the acclaimed contemporary artist. In fact, the tendence of young artists, born in a cynical capitalist culture powered by the mass media, is to take shortcuts to reach objectives of easy, quick and effortless success. How many times I have already seen retrospective exhibitions of contemporary artists in the most important museums and I have noticed a big drop in quality in the latest works, due perhaps to the hurry to fill up the big exhibiting spaces and the tendency to satisfy the arise of a larger demand. In such a speculative society it is a difficult decision for a quality artist to step aside from the tendencies in order to enjoy the creative process with no pressures.

Nontheless, Antonio López has never stopped making art for the sheer pleasure of making it. In fact, even in his late years (he is now 75 years old), when many would expect from an artist of such profile a struggle to extend his legacy and place more of his work in the museums, he finds delight also in copying ancient Greek sculptures with the passion of a humanist. An exercise snobbed by many young aspiring artists, bred in universities where they are taught that they can forget the past and just look into the future, as they are already able to express themselves and create autonomously. It is from these exercises of confrontation and absortion of the cultural inheritance of the past that admirable works -such as "Mujer durmiendo" (Sleeping Woman) or "La mujer de Coslada" (The Coslada woman) - are born. And it is from this philosophy of self-improvement following the best tradition that comes the richness and complexity of his language, which assembles and integrates the wisdom of the drawer, the sculptor and the painter.

ESPAÑOL

Últimamente viajo frecuentemente a España, ya que allí puedo encontrar y acceder más fácilmente a los ambientes que necesito de fondo para mis cuadros, evitando los obstáculos burocráticos y la rigidez de las normas en Inglaterra. En uno de esos viajes, el pasado septiembre, mi destinación era Valencia pero decidí aterrizar primero en Madrid con el propósito principal de ver la exposición antológica de Antonio López en el Museo Tyssen-Bornemisza, justo antes de su cierre (todavía se puede visitar la exposición, que ahora ha sido trasladada en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao y permanecerá abierta hasta el 22 de enero). Como esperaba, esta resultó ser una de esas exposiciones excepcionales de arte contemporáneo que te hacen amar el arte y te proporcionan abundante material de reflexión. Ya había podido observar alguna obra de este gran maestro cuando vivía en Madrid, pero en el Museo Tyssen pude contemplar de cerca muchas obras en conjunto, no solamente de pintura, sino también de escultura y dibujo. La exposición se compone de 130 piezas con un especial énfasis en los últimos 18 años, que es el período que ha pasado desde su última retrospectiva en España (1993, Museo Reina Sofía).

Para los frenéticos ritmos de la sociedad del siglo XXI un artista como Antonio López es un caso excepcional y misterioso. De hecho, muchas de las obras en muestra han sido realizadas a lo largo de muchos años. Diez, quince o incluso veinte años no son excepciones en su producción y además esas obras no están exentas de eventuales ulteriores cambios en un futuro. El mismo Antonio López escribe en la breve prefación del catálogo que muchos de los cuadros expuestos en el museo están en proceso y hay otros que seguiría retocando, con cambios incluso radicales, si no fuera porque no le pertenecen, ya que han sido adquiridos por algún coleccionista. En palabras del artista: "'El cuadro nunca se termina, siempre queda abierto'. El cuadro se abandona porque se han encontrado dificultades insuperables, porque hay un plazo de entrega o una fecha de apertura de una exposición, porque se está cansado o porque se sienten ganas de comenzar otra cosa. Entonces 'el cuadro queda detenido, pero nunca terminado'" (Catálogo exposición, p.36).

Antonio López nunca trabaja en una sola obra sino en varias a la vez, siguiendo la inspiración del momento. Así que muchas veces su trabajo se concentra en ese cuarto de hora o veinte minutos en el cual las condiciones de iluminación y colores se repiten cíclicamente cada día. El trabajo a menudo se interrumpe con el cambio de estación y se retoma en el mismo período del año siguiente. Esta manera de trabajar aparentemente anárquica le lleva a realizar unos cambios a veces drásticos de composición, tras replanteamientos o modificaciones en la realidad debidos a la naturaleza de las cosas o a la intervención del hombre. Así sus cuadros incorporan dentro de sus muchas capas de pintura las vivencias entrañables del hombre que ha crecido cada día, cada mes y cada año junto a sus sujetos. Por ejemplo el cuadro "Terraza de Lucio", empezado en 1962, iba a ser el retrato de tres amigos del artista: Lucio, Amalia y Eusebio, pero el pintor empezó por pintar el fondo, como suele hacer, y tras dos primaveras, por alguna razón, interrumpió el proyecto. Pasaron muchos años y, primero Eusebio, luego Lucio y al fin Amalia, dejaron de existir. Sin embargo, Antonio quiso volver a visitar el viejo piso, ya habitado por otra gente, y entonces decidió retomar el trabajo interrumpido. Los personajes del retrato ya nunca aparecieron en el cuadro pero en las grietas y en las manchas que ha dejado el tiempo queda atrapada esa experiencia del pintor y la imagen de sus viejos amigos, y las flores que aparecen en la terraza representan ese ciclo vital que siempre se renueva. La composición fue modificada en varias fases y de ello son testigos los múltiples paneles que han sido añadidos en tiempos posteriores.

El realismo de la pintura de Antonio López no es frío y mecánico. Si observamos sus cuadros de cerca, las manchas deshechas, las correcciones visibles y las pinceladas arrastradas transmiten amor tanto al proceso cuanto al objeto representado. Un amor que se contagia fácilmente tanto al observador experto como al profano. Esa mirada obsesiva y esa paciencia infinita para estudiar y representar las cosas continuamente transformadas por el tiempo, son actitudes más propias del poeta intimista que del aclamado artista contemporáneo, el cual es hijo de una cultura capitalista cínica y mediatizada que le instiga a tomar atajos para buscar el éxito fácil, rápido y sin esfuerzo. ¡Cuantas veces he visitado  exposiciones antológicas de artistas contemporáneos en los más importantes museos y me ha parecido que en sus últimas obras hubiera una gran bajada de compromiso con la calidad! Esto, muy probablemente, se debe a las prisas por llenar las enormes salas expositivas y para satisfacer el incremento repentino de la demanda. En esta sociedad tan especulativa es una decisión muy difícil para los creadores de calidad apartarse de la corriente para disfrutar del proceso creativo sin presiones.

Antonio López, sin embargo, nunca ha dejado de crear por el placer de crear, incluso en sus años tardíos (ya tiene 75 años). Cuando todo el mundo se esperaría que un artista de su envergadura seguiría esforzándose para ampliar su legado personal y poner más obra en los museos, él se deleita también en copiar esculturas griegas antiguas con la pasión de un humanista, un ejercicio que muchos jóvenes ya desprecian porque los profesores en las facultades les enseñan que a sus edades son ya capaces de expresar sí mismos y crear autónomamente. Es de esos ejercicios de confrontación y absorción de la herencia cultural del pasado que nacen obras tan admirables como Mujer durmiendo, o La mujer de Coslada. Y es desde esa filosofía de superación a partir de la tradición que viene la riqueza y complejidad de su lenguaje, que reune e integra la sabiduría del extraordinario dibujante, escultor y pintor.

Perú journal by Michele Del Campo

Certainly I couldn't waste the opportunity to travel around Peru in occasion of my solo exhibition in Lima. The travel gave me the chance to discover places and people full of charm. Moreover I could come closer to an extremely interesting and valuable cultural heritage through the art and architecture of the Pre-Inca and the Inca civilizations. The food also was a treat, very rich and varied.

The most beautiful experience, although also very demanding, was the Inca Trail, four days trekking among high mountains with views that would leave anyone open-mouthed, heading towards the Incas sacred city of Machu Picchu.

Mainly the travel after Lima included Arequipa, Puno, some islands in the Titicaca Lake, Cusco, the Inca Trail, Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo.

With so many interesting things to see in only 20 days, I had to make an effort to keep my journal up-to-date and to draw, but it's those lines traced on paper that best evoke the emotion of my memories.

SPANISH:

Ciertamente no podía no aprovechar la ocasión de la inauguración de mi exposición en Lima para viajar por Perú. El viaje me ayudó a descubrir lugares y gentes llenos de encanto. Además pude ver de cerca un patrimonio cultural de grandísimo interés y valor, a través del arte y la arquitectura inca y pre-inca, y saborear comidas muy ricas y variadas.

La experiencia más bonita, aunque también fatigosa, fue el Camino del Inca, cuatro días entre altas montañas con panoramas que dejan boquiabierto, con llegada a Machu Picchu, la ciudad sagrada de los Incas.

A grandes líneas el viaje después de Lima comprendía las ciudades de Arequipa, Puno, algunas islas del lago Titicaca, Cusco, el Camino del Inca, Aguas Calientes y Ollantaytambo.

Con tantos sitios interesantes y solamente 20 días en total a disposición, tuve que hacer un esfuerzo extra para detenerme a dibujar y a escribir de vez en cuando, pero son esas líneas trazadas en el papel las que mejor me evocan la emoción de mis recuerdos.

Private view solo exhibition by Michele Del Campo

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My solo exhibition private view on 4th November at the Galería Enlace was memorable. There has been a great interest by the critic and the public, who came numerous to see closely both my paintings and the ones of the young Peruvian painter Hugo Salazar, opening his show at the same time in another space of the gallery.

My gratitude goes to the gallery directors Carlos Villanueva and Roberto Ascóniga, and of course to the large number of staff that work with them to make this gallery one of the most prestigious of Peru and South America.

ESPAÑOL :

La inauguración de mi exposición en la Galería Enlace Arte Contemporáneo el pasado día 4 de noviembre fue memorable. Hubo gran interés por parte del  público y de la crítica, que vinieron numerosos para ver de cerca al mismo tiempo mis cuadros y los del joven artista peruano Hugo Salazar, quien inauguró contemporáneamente en otro espacio de la galería.

Mi sincero agradecimiento a los directores Carlos Villanueva y Roberto Ascóniga, además de al numeroso equipo de personal que trabaja con ellos para hacer de esta galería una de las más prestigiosas en Perú y Latinoamérica.

"El viejo barco" by Michele Del Campo

My new painting "El viejo barco" (The Old Boat) was born almost casually from a day out exploration of the Valencian coastline and inner land. This time I did not sketch the idea first and then looked for real life reference material, as I normally do for the other paintings, but I got the input directly from reality and the "touristic" pictures that I took that day.

I first took pictures of a stretch of coast where tall new buildings are being built to host holiday housings, then, later on, I found this old rusty boat proudly standing in the middle of a roundabout in my way back to Valencia and I took more pictures of it. I found it poetic and I thought that I could use it in a painting. Later on, back in London, I decided to place the old boat in front of the newly built holiday city to produce a nostalgic, melancholic contrast. The boat, stranded in a sea of sand, is symbolic, works as a metaphor, bringing to mind feelings of inadequacy, abandonment, solitude and isolation.

ESPAÑOL:

Mi nuevo cuadro “El viejo barco” nació casi casualmente de un día ocioso de exploración de la costa valenciana y de su interior. Esta vez no he partido de una idea esbozada para luego buscar material de referencia visual en la realidad, como normalmente hago en los otros cuadros, sino que he recibido la inspiración directamente de la realidad y de las fotos “turísticas” que tomé ese día.

Primero tomé fotos de una extensión de costa donde en el horizonte se erigen altos edificios de nueva construcción para pisos de vacaciones, luego, en coche, encontré este barco oxidado y decrépito situado justo en el medio de una rotonda, lo encontré poético y me paré para tomarle fotos. De vuelta a Londres decidí pintar el viejo barco en frente a la ciudad de nueva construcción en la costa para producir un contraste nostálgico y melancólico. El barco, que yace encallado en un mar de arena, es para mí simbólico, funciona como metáfora y sugiere sentimientos de inadecuación, abandono, soledad y aislamiento.

"Los restos" by Michele Del Campo

"Los Restos" (The Remains), oil on linen, 140x180cm

I had this idea in my mind of a stray dog walking through rubbles, with a tall building standing behind and I sketched it a few months ago. I wanted to show desolation after distruction.

We are not used to see distruction and displacement in our cities of plenty, as well as we are not used to see death. Death is always there but we don't see it, if it's not by accident or in fiction, we only see life flowing. Destruction, displacement and greedy appropriation of land also is censored and made behind curtains. The drama is confined to the inner experience of whom is directly affected. In "The Remains" I have depicted a desolated environment where destruction has taken place. I have painted the skinny dog, lost among a big pile of rubble, as a symbol of life and horror at the events.

I didn't know where to find the right environment to take reference from but in art chance always plays a big part. In my last journey to Madrid, in fact, I went to see an interesting peripheral complex of buildings where people live in poor conditions. i took some pictures and, just when I was entering the tube to go back to the city center, I saw a cloud of dust raising from a nearby area. They were demolishing a building and I rushed to take some pictures (see below the real scene).

ESPAÑOL:

No estamos acostumbrados a ver destrucción y desalojo en nuestras ciudades de la “abundancia”, al igual que no estamos acostumbrados a contemplar la muerte. Ésta siempre está ahí pero no la vemos. Si no es por accidente o en la ficción sólo vemos la vida que trascurre. La destrucción, el desalojo y la apropiación avariciosa de suelo son censurados y suceden tras bambalinas. El drama queda confinado a la experiencia interior de aquellos directamente afectados.

En “Los restos” he representado un entorno desolado donde ha habido destrucción. El perro famélico, perdido entre los montones de escombros, simboliza la vida y el horror ante lo ocurrido.

No sabía dónde hubiera podido encontrar el escenario adecuado para tomar referencia, pero en el arte el azar y la suerte siempre juegan un papel importante. En mi reciente visita a Madrid fui a ver un interesante complejo residencial en la periferia de la ciudad donde vive gente pobre. Tomé algunas fotos y, justo cuando iba a entrar en el metro para volver al centro, ví una nube de polvo que se levantaba en un lugar cercano. Estaban demoliendo un edificio y me aprisuré para tomar las fotos que luego me sirvieron para construir la imágen del cuadro.

Trip to Valencia by Michele Del Campo

For my new project "Journey of no Return" I had a particular scene in my mind, inspired by a dunes beach near Valencia and I flew all the way to there to gather reference material. In the beginning of January the sun was quite bright and the temperature higher than 20º! What a treat for someone coming from freezing  London! However pleasurable, what I needed was actually a grey, wintery setting, but luckily, towards the end of the day, colourful dark clouds would float about in the sky, giving it a little of that dramatic appearance that I was after.

In the following days I took several walks in the city to find interesting locations for some shoots. I saw a bridge and I halted to fantasise about a group of young people under it, half visible in the shadow and some of them disappearing under the beams. I soon phoned Carles, a very nice friend of mine who has loads of friends in Valencia. He was very pleased to help me and assumed all the weight of the organisation for me, phoning friends to check immediate availability and telling them what was needed for the shooting. I wanted at least four people to pose but at the end seven people turned up and were very happy to pose. It was not that easy and nice for some of them, who had to climb up to the beams by a ladder which was not long enough to make the task easy. Big thanks to all of them, particularly to Carles, for giving me their time.

Andrew Wyeth's Chadds Ford by Michele Del Campo

It is only one and a half years since Andrew Wyeth has passed away. He painted until his last days but his work looks out of time, he was one of the last heroes of the best traditional values in painting, an outsider, a poet with a brush.From New York, which I went to visit, Andrew Wyeth's village, Chadds Ford, was only three hours away, two by train, one by taxi (there is no public transport to the village). By coincidence Henry, the taxi driver, had met the artist personally and, apart from driving, he also worked part-time in the Delaware Museum, where there are also some paintings from N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and James Wyeth. The Delaware Museum was on the way to Chadds Ford, so he kindly made a stop to guide us through the museum towards the paintings of the Wyeths.

In Chadds Ford, we spent most of our two days visit at the Brandywine River Museum, a nice small museum where there is a good number of paintings from the three generation of Wyeths. I also took part to the guided tours of N.C. Wyeth's house and studio, the tour of the Kuerners farm and Victoria Wyeth's guide through the exhibited works in the museum (she is Andrew's granddaughter).

I was impressed by the luxuriant green landscape all around, the sun was still very warm and bright at the end of September, cicadas and birds still singing all around. I did not recognise the dim light of Andrew's paintings of these landscapes, although I know that in summer he would go to the coast of Maine. However, I found out that there was very little sign that what we were looking at were the settings of most of his paintings, as they look so remote in time and spirit. Then, when I visited the Kuerners Farm, where he took inspiration for about 1.000 drawings and paintings during 70 years, I realised how personal his work was, how much of his soul and of the spirit of his characters is in those works. I could compare directly the images of his paintings with the real settings and I could see how he altered the appearance of things to give them a more dramatic appearance and a deeper meaning. He omitted windows, trees, he displaced houses and hills, he altered colours, he simplified shapes, he composed always in benefit of the message.

Left: Andrew Wyeth, 'Young Bull', 1960. - Right: The original place, the Kuerners farm in Chadds Ford

 

The most fascinating thing about this artist is that his paintings are not only great individual pieces, but they form a body of work that spans for so many decades that you can really witness the passing of time and the development of the events. You look at those paintings and imagine long-gone days of a nostalgic time, but in reality, if you look around you and try to see an "undressed" reality, with no roads, fewer or no trees nor parked SUVs, everything is actually there, even some of his models are still around.

His subjects were neighbours and friends, they all became part of his life, sometimes, like the case of the Kuerners, they even gave him the keys to enter in their house at any time. All his paintings are now essential pieces of a big body of work that narrates the existence of those ordinary, peripheral lives, from their youth to their old age, through the unflattering vision of the artist. You can see the presence of those people also through their objects and their environments when they are not present in the paintings or when they have died.

For someone who has read a little about his private world and known about the people he painted, it is very poignant to see the actual places where they spent their lives and read through a series of paintings the passing of the time, the vigour of the youth, the decline of the age and the death. What makes his paintings "magical" is his poetisation of the reality, his obsession with the details that become meaningful in his paintings, they remind us of something or of somebody, they express a feeling that is easily shared by the viewer who lets himself be transported by Andrew's world.

Although he had a big recognisement during his life, Andrew Wyeth remained in his small village, isolated from the art establishment and from the modern mad race towards the visual innovation in art.