‘Without a tradition, art is flock of sheep, without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.’ Winston Churchill
I am sure the most of you are able to recall this classic tale from Greek mythology: asked to find goddess Demeter hiding in a cave, Pan, an avid hunter, prefers to roam the forests of Arkadia in search of game — where he unwittingly falls upon Demeter.
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘ORPHEUS AND EUREDICE’, 2014, GX Gallery, London
Looking closer at our lives, we can easily notice that the old tales and stories are the perfect mirror of the universal truths. In fact – during our lives, we often find something of great value and importance (something that we needed and dreamed of for a long time) only once we finally give up and stopped looking. Isn’t this ironic?
Some people call it luck, but in fact it is serendipity – a phenomenon to be found in the biographies of the world’s most famous scientists and discoverers such as Alfred Nobel, Louis Pasteur, Christopher Columbus or Wilhelm Roentgen. The common factor in serendipitous scientific discoveries is that they were all “made by individuals able to see bridges where others saw holes”. The impossible becomes possible when we accept the truth that was beautifully expressed by Seneca: ‘The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach.’
Armando Alemdar Ara, Lilith, 2016,GX Gallery, London
In my case, since I am constantly in search for the nuances in the world of art – I have been looking out for ‘the fresh air’, something that would become ‘one of my greatest blessings’ that I could then, share with my readers. To be more specific – I really wanted to find an artist that would be able visualize the invisible, the inner form, energy that is there within us and around us.
Armando Alemdar Ara, ADAM II (HOMAGE TO ANDRE DURAND), 2016, GX Gallery
Moving further, I was especially interested in exploring if a piece of art could become a bridge to a thought-provoking, philosophical dialogue, bring us to nirvana – that is the transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, where one is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth?
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Hope’, 2014,GX Gallery, London
My question was, is it actually possible for a contemporary artist to unify the past with the present time, bring together ‘the classical’ and ‘modern’ art’ in a way that ‘fits’ the taste the of modern audience, so deeply fascinated by minimalism and abstract paintings?
‘Embrace’, GX Gallery, London
As you may already have guessed, the answer came unexpectedly, when I was occupied with something that had absolutely nothing to do with art. In fact, back then, I was searching on the internet for the translated fairy tales for my 2-years old niece, by the Dutch writer Herman Dirk that I wanted to buy her for her upcoming birthday. It is important to emphasize that the artistic name of the author I was looking for was Armando.
When I inserted that name into the browser – somehow ‘Uncle Google’ made me land at the website of the London based visual artist known as Armando Alemdar Ara.
This way my unsuccessful online shopping made me spot something precious that I might otherwise – never have discovered.
Armando Alemdar Ara,’Icarus’, 2011, GX Gallery, London
I must admit that for the first time in my life I have found artworks that were the visual form of the values that I have always admired and searched for in art. I was absolutely stunned by the paintings that were as deep, as poetical and emotionally charged as the essays and speeches of my favorite, British philosopher Alan Watts.
Alan Watts, 1915-1973, (british philosopher, writer and speaker)
What is the bottom line of the Armando’s art? What makes him unique and exceptional?
I’d start from the artist intention, his honesty and generosity to invite the onlooker to join him in a deep, contemplative intellectual confession. Further there is a quality – that Alan Watts named in his speech on ‘art of living’ – that is the artist ‘sensitivity, the ability to have the mind open and wholly receptive’.
Armando Alemdar Ara,’The Call’, 2015, GX Gallery, London
For me, personally, seeing the art of Armando – was discovering the dual aspect, the complexity of our humanity (the sphere of our inner ‘contrasts’ – sacrum and profanum,),tasting the state of nirvana, enjoying ‘the now’ without forgetting the past.
Armando Alemdar Ara,’Longing’, 2013-14, GX Gallery, London
There is the unquestionable harmony of forms and colors that delights and makes the paintings strikingly beautiful. But more importantly, while looking at the artworks one may feel inspired contemplate on human condition. The fact that there is so much greatness within us, that we all need to love and be loved but at the same time we tend to be furious, violent and aggressive. The fact that people are full of paradoxes, strong and invincible but also doubtful, fragile and vulnerable. The paintings of Armando show that human beings are one the one hand perfect divine creations – and, on the other hand – also so erratic and sinful, unable to avoid constant ‘raise and fall’.
Armando Alemdar Ara,’Amor Heroes’, 2013, GX Gallery, London
Armando Alemdar Ara,’Amor Heroes’, 2013, GX Gallery, London
Thrilled and overwhelmed by my exceptional discovery I decided to connect with Armando first via LinkedIn, then arranged a short meeting with him next time I was in London. In truth, the concept of seeing the painter in person – sat on the horizon, strange and unattainable. But this is what I was really after. I wasn’t sure if our tight schedules will allow us to make this meeting happen. For all I knew, meeting Armando was one of the things in life that you simply have to give a go. Whatever timeline the artist was about to ask of me, I was destined to say yes even if I had to postpone other appointments that I had planned for the day.
Armando Alemdar Ara,’Awakening’, 2016, GX Gallery, London
The short meeting with the painter and art historian at one of the London’s café was something I will never forget. There was a certain electricity in the air during our conversation that activated all my senses . The discussion with the artist was spellbinding, mind-opening and inspiring. Actually wished I could be one of his art students that had the opportunity to learn from the great artist at the university ( I was delighted to notice that during our conversation Armando actually called his students in the sweetest and most loving way, that is ‘my children’.)
The things I remember most from the meeting were Armando’s kindness, the warmth of his voice, his contagious enthusiasm and energy, the eagerness to share his passion and genuine love for the art and the humanity. In fact all those virtues have already been beautifully encapsulated in all of his paintings. The questions I asked and the very thoughtful answers that the artist had given to me during our conversation could be found in my next post.
What was it like to meet Armando Alemdar Ara? My experience could be compared to having a coffee with an inspired spiritual leader, the head of a new church who introduced me to a new, intriguing belief. The name of the new artistic religion was Neomodernism – that Armando, the co-founder of artistic movement explains on ‘the manifesto’ on his website:
‘Neomodernism – espouses spiritual and aesthetic values in art. It is also a philosophy of art, a way of looking and creating a new relationship with works of art from the 15th to the 20th century. The movement cuts through the media hype surrounding old master and modernist works of art, labels that have blinded the public – not to say made it hostile – to these works’ Neomodern message.’
Armando Alemdar Ara, PROMETHEUS (HOMAGE TO MICHELANGELO), 2015, GX Gallery
Armando’s artworks,created in 21st century – represent very innovative and characteristic style (neomodernism), at the same time naturally and intentionally reach out to old traditions of art history. The artist does not cut off from the past, contrary to many contemporary painters. For him the classical art seem to be the very much needed ambrosia, ‘the natural, mother’s milk’ that nourishes and energizes his canvases, making them powerful and harmonious. Similarly to the scientists that I mentioned earlier in this post, Armando is able to ‘see bridges where others see holes’. He promotes the dynamics, the evolution of life and art and encourages to search for the happiness and tranquility that has its source deep inside of human soul. The paintings emanate the cosmic and everlasting energy that is ‘around and within us’.
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Fugit Amor’, 2013, GX Gallery
What I find most moving and overwhelming in Alemdar Ara artworks, is how the visual expression becomes his voice that could be heard and understood by anyone who looks at his canvases, regardless of age, nationality, believes or status. That voice of the artist is full of love, tenderness and compassion and it seems to echo the words of Seneca, that there is no time to lose, that life is there to enjoy:
“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”
* To learn more about Armando’s art you may visit his official website:
http://www.armando.co.uk/ and the website of the GX Gallery that represents the artists work: