‘The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?’ Bob Dylan
Few days ago, trying to chase away the ‘fall blues’, while having my morning coffee I have noticed that finally the sun was rising above the sky, which faintly promised for a pleasant weather for the rest of the week. Taking another sip of my latte – still feeling quite uninspired- I said to myself – ‘I wish something spectacular has happened’.
When I opened my mailbox, I’ve noticed that there was something waiting for me there. It turned out that my blog had few new ‘followers’ which, of course, made me very happy. Among them there was an alert about a writer called Kim (author of a very nice online read called ‘Peace, Love and Patchouli’).
As a faithful believer in low of attraction (‘ask, believe, receive and show gratitude’), I sensed instinctively that I should pay a return visit to my new reader (zipsrid.wordpres s.com). To my delight, right there, at Kims blog, I’ve found profound words by a poet and illustrator, Jan Walsh Anglund that I’ve found very meaningful and used for the title of my new post.
So now we know for sure. It is not the artist who speaks.
It is the ‘the life’ within the artist that has much to say.
‘Life’ is the very reason why creative people ask questions everyone else is too frightened to ask. The artist ‘speaks up’ to open the locked doors inside of peoples souls, to make the hearts grow, to help those who seek an emotional and spiritual survival.
As a matter of fact, the recent news on Nobel Prize in literature has been yet another great example where not the artist, but ‘life that speaks on his behalf, has been awarded.
In a real world nobody would have ever consider giving a Noblel Prize in Literature to a rock star, a rebel in a leather jacket with a cigarette in his hand. But an inspired poet who speaks about ‘real life’ and the difficult times he lived in, ‘will do’. Absolutely, no shadow of doubt.
A poet, ladies and gentlemen,does classify for that kind or international recognition.
As recently informed by international press, Bob Dylan has been distinguished with the most prestigious literary reward “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
Some conservatives and skeptics may wonder if the artistic ‘body of work’ of a music star should be equal to the work of writers such as Günter Grass, John M. Coetzee or Samuel Beckett? But if the art of Dylan changed peoples life’s and nurtured many generations long after his greatest popularity – why should we doubt his genius?
‘The Bob Dylan Case’ has again convinced me that the real art does not like to ‘go by the book’. On the contrary, it prefers to stay unconventional, unpredictable and sometimes even shocking. It is not ‘the theory’ but ‘life’ that makes the art and artist win and stand out from the crowd.
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Dream II’, Private Collection
In my last post I promised to say more about Armando Alemdar Ara based on the conversation I had with the artist while in London. It is not accidental, that I started my post from mentioning Bob Dylan, the poet and musician, as I came to the conclusion that both artists have got a lot in common. Even though they represent different art genres and use different tools and approach towards art.
What matters is that they are both poets (Armando is then ‘a silent poet’), humanists and there is a mystery within their art. According to an article published in ‘The Guardian’ on the 13th of October:
‘Dylan’s lyrics reflect both deep nihilism about the human state of affairs and sometimes idealism about human encounters, one-on-one. Ever since the advent of the nuclear bomb, he has summed us up pretty well. He isn’t just a writer — he has a perspective.’
The same eclectic approach applies to the art of visual artist, Armando Alemdar Ara. He isn’t just a painter — he has a perspective of a philosopher, of somebody who has lived thousand years and understood the dilemmas and moral problems of humanity and knows how to ‘speak’ about them so they become more bearable. His art seeks idealism, in human form, in the energy that the body produces and spreads around.
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Ariadne’, Private Collection
The presence of ‘Life’ in Armando’s artworks brings to mind different masterpieces of greatest masters such as Michaelangelo or Durer.
Michelangelo, ‘A Male Nude’, c. 1504-1505, Teylers Museum, Netherlands
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘The Challenge’, 2016, GX Gallery
If you look at that kind of paintings , you’ll feel tempted to identify yourself with the subject matter in the most ‘private’ way. It is something that touches the roots of your existence, just like the poetry does and lets them work their magic’.
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Prometheus’ (Homage to Michelangelo), GX Gallery, London
During our fascinating conversation that took place in the heart of London, Armando explained where his inspiration comes from:
‘I paint only the ideas that I have explored and learnt about. In my artworks I present concepts that have occupied me for a long time and have been settled in my mind. As a matter of fact to develop an idea on canvas is a complex, lengthy process that is time-consuming almost like meditation.’
There was one particular painting, ‘Icarus’, that I found especially intriguing. This artwork successfully captures a very important part of human nature. The curiosity, the need of taking risks that sometimes might be stronger than ‘common sense’:
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Falling Is Also Flying’, 2015, GX Gallery, London
Michelangelo, ‘Study for the Libyan Sibyl’, 1511, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)
Michelangelo, ‘Head Of A Young Man’, c. 1516, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
‘If I choose Icarus, as a subject matter of my art, I think about the meaning of this myth with all its symbolical and philosophical implications, I bring my discoveries to a conclusion until I end up with a single concept. This abstract concept is the one I then challenge myself to transpose into canvas. When I get down to work on that painting, my mind might still be unsettled – and therefore I start asking myself questions such as “Did Icarus just fail because of his arrogance or was it just youthful ignorance? Could it not just have been an innate ambition of humankind to improve itself in a search of freedom? Could ‘falling’ be the same as ‘flying’? Isn’t the experience of failure necessary to reflect on our weaknesses and appreciate success later? Can I not paint this event as an empowerning, beautiful experience?”
When we talked about Armando’s art 10 years ago and how it has changed throughout the years – the artist revealed:
‘Back then I was in full flow of creation, painting and producing a lot of work. When I reflect on it now, it was perhaps too much work produced too quickly. Now I find myself revisiting some ideas that I had merely brushed over without sufficient thought and consideration. My exhibitions were sell out and maybe this affected the speed of my painting and development of ideas. For painting I used sketches from ballet and contemporary dancers during their rehearsals. This is after all how I developed my own style, by showing their energy and forms of movement as physicality equal or even more accentuated than their actual body.’
(c) Camille Litalien
I also wanted to learn more about the people who posed for Armando’s artworks – that point was also explained in detail by the artist:
‘There was one particular dancer that became my muse during that period, Camille Litalien (currently Assistant Professor of Dance and Movement at Utah State University’s Caine College of the Arts). I sketched hundreds if not thousands of drawings of her. As a matter of fact I rarely turned them into paintings, apart from 2 or 3. I used these drawings later for many paintings. The movement of her body was incredible and her mind understood my mind and what I wanted as an artist.’
(c) Camille Litalien
In the book that has been published by GX Gallery that Armando has given me some time ago there were two sketches that I found very powerful and striking – ‘Abandon’ (2008) and ‘Hope’ (2005).
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Hope’, 2015, GX Gallery, London
As I learned later from the artist both artworks present the same muse – Camille.
‘I’ve done it very quickly’ – said Armando – ‘With just a few impassioned gestural lines that captured the essence of movement. I must say that I get the idea first, the abstract concept, e.g., ‘Hope’. Then I think how I could present that concept visually, which pose would be best. Camille knew this instinctively, to the core of her being, so she was able to embody each concept effortlessly, like a Mozart of dance.’
(c) Camille Litalien
At the end of our conversation I asked Armando, how would define the act of painting:
Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Venus’, 2016, GX Gallery, London
‘Painting for me is like meditation. The very act helps me notice my thoughts, and let them go. Sometimes I ‘see’ myself painting at the easel, I guess some would say, I leave my body. I ‘see’ my thoughts, how they come and go. I don’t do anything with them, my hand are moving as if they did not depend on my mind. I don’t have to think about which color to choose next. After a while, the conclusions come naturally, by themselves, both into my mind and on the canvas. Everything is in a flow and movement.’
When I think of Armando’s work and poetry of Bob Dylan or the work of any other artist – I can see the constant strive for perfect expression in poetry, in music, on canvas, the need to touch the core of our humanity – as ‘that element’ that brings the artistic work to the next level.
It is the journey to find the right pose, the right stroke, the right word or note that matters and which makes the work valuable. It is the movement of ‘Life’ that the artist whispers trough the chosen medium of expression : ‘The floor is yours, teach me, I am listening’.
(c) Nacho Ormecha Photography
It is the act of breaking through the limitations of body and mind, it is accepting the challenge and taking risk even if one could fall:
‘If after out death they want to transform us into any tiny withered flame that walks along the paths of winds- we have to rebel.
What good is an eternal leisure on the bosom of air, in the shade of yellow halo, amid the murmur of two dimensional choirs? One should enter the rock, wood, water, the cracks of gate. Better to be the cracking of floor than shrilly transparent perfection’.
Zbigniew Herbert, Polish Poet (translated by Czeslaw Milosz – Nobel Prize winner in Literature, 1980)
(c) Zbigniew Herbert