‘An artist is an art lover who finds that in all the art he sees, something is missing: to put there what he feels is missing becomes the center of his life’s work’ Romare Bearden
‘Kalispera, welcome Madame!’ – I heard the enthusiastic voice in the doorway as I arrived at the ‘Blue Beach Hotel’ in Chania, Greece. I’ve never mentioned it before but from her early childhood I knew that visiting a new place is likely to make me ‘feel’ the symptoms of synesthesia.
Let me explain you first what hides behind the mysterious phenomenon. Similarly to Tori Amos, Pharrell Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Vladimir Nabokov, David Hockney or Vincent Van Gogh, I possess the unique ability to ‘merge’ several senses at the same time. In one of the online articles I’ve read that actually 4% of our society are synestheists.
David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967, © David Hockney Collection Tate, London
The truth is that those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion. The condition, which occurs in about 4 percent of the population, is more common in women than in men, and appears to be genetic.
As somebody who can speak from own experience I must say this ‘superpower’ could become a very helpful device in poetry, art of music, but at the same time it might turn into something very annoying when we talk of its presence in the everyday life activities.
How do I know I’ve got synesthesia? It’s simple, whenever I see certain colors they make me think of music, or a song, or a melody. Or when I see a word it brings to my mind a certain color or fragrance. At times the feeling is so overwhelming that one may feel frustrated that you cannot get rid of it no matter how hard you try. And we all know that in our lives there are important moments that really require our undivided attention.
Anna H. Lucy, ‘Blue Beach Hotel 1’, Private Collection of the author
So here I was, delighted with a thought of 7 days living in my beloved Crete, my little paradise. While waiting for the hotel manager to come I closed my eyes for few seconds and let the colors enter into me. Although the space I was in was overcrowded and its contents extremely miscellaneous, all seemed to come together into a whirl of blue, white, turquoise wherein each thing, though contributing to the whole, became more itself. There were cups, bowls, vases, little statues representing many Greek gods that only good God knows the name of and many other things that created a unique and unforgettable atmosphere.
There were also cute, tiny blue ships located nearby large tv set that brought to my mind faraway travels and dangerous, exciting adventures. On the couches there were white cushions in light blue and light green stripes and the simple fact of looking at them made me feel relaxed.
While discussing my hosts the details of my stay, almost immediately I noticed large library with numerous novels (mostly thrillers and romances). To my growing amusement they were in Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, German and English. ‘How wonderful’ – I thought to myself feeling that endorphins were running in my veins much faster than couple of hours earlier, when I was still on the plane.
Anna H. Lucy, ‘Blue Beach Hotel 2’, Private Collection of the author
Anna H. Lucy, ‘Blue Beach Hotel 3’, Private Collection of the author
Feeling incredibly lucky, still a the reception of ‘Blue Beach Hotel’, ‘cool air in my hair’, hearing the sounds of waves coming from the sea, I felt immersed in the endless amount of blue objects that were surrounding me. Apart from this I could not concentrate anymore and even though there was no radio on, I could hear very clearly in my head the refrain of the famous ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles. This legendary song in 1977 made the American band won the Grammy for the record of the year. For many generations to come this song shall remain a piece of music that paint a visual picture that everybody sees differently.
David Hockney, Portrait of Nick Wilder, 1966, acrylic on canvas, 183 x 183 cm, Fukuoka, The Fukuoka City Bank
When my Greek hosts asked me how was my trip and then tried to explain to me few other things with regards to my stay, the Eagles in my head carried on singing about ‘such a lovely place, such a lovely face’. Because there was no other way to escape the uncomfortable situation I told the dark-eyed and very handsome Greek that I was very tired indeed and dreamed of my bed more than ever. Of course I wasn’t tired, it was a fiction I had to quickly make up to get myself out of the reception.
When Vasily (as that was his name was very understanding host) looked at me and noticed that I was more than ‘carried away’. Fortunately he did not ask any more questions. I took the keys to the apartment and obediently followed my ‘temporary guide’ that was going to show me the way to my Blue Beach Room. After a quick shower I was lying down, ‘safe and sound’ in my light green bed covered with a white and light blue blanket. All the stress and fatigue seemed to disappear with every new breath of the fresh , slightly salty air coming from the sea. I knew that the week at Blue Beach Hotel will do me good. Before falling asleep I had to smile once again at my ‘Hotel California’ distraction and inspired by the visual delights of the Blue Beach Hotel I started to contemplate on the many different kinds of art that serve different goals. Interior design, for instance, is an Art with an aim to provide the observer with a certain experience, an emotion that one will remember for a long time. My analysis did not last longer than 5 minutes, and before I knew I was already asleep.
Ania Luk, ‘Ambigious’, 2016, Private Collection
When I woke up I felt somehow that I still must be dreaming. How otherwise would I explain all that I saw? I was on the beach, surrounded by palm trees and young women wearing bikinis and pretty boys in colorful shorts. When I looked around I realized that Blue Beach Hotel I picked for my holiday was gone and has been replaced by the famous Hotel California from the Eagle’s song that looked exactly like the David Hockney sunny villas & hotels from the artworks he created in ’60’s and ’70’s.
David Hockney Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972 Private Collection © David Hockney Photo Credit: Art Gallery of New South Wales / Jenni Carter
To intrigue you even more I have to add that right next to me, on the large Gucci towel there was a glamorous, stunning and breathtakingly beautiful girl with long dark hair. She acted in a very comfortable fashion, like she was my old friend who decided to spend her ‘relaxing time’ in the fancy LA area together with me. What stroke me most was the fact that she looked exactly like the model from the collection of paintings ‘Supergirl’ by Polish visual artist called Ania Luk.
I need to add that I’ve only recently got to know that Polish painter via Internet and found out that she created a series of artworks that attract the onlooker with a cubist perspective that mirrored artists interest both in Modigilani and Picasso. There is something ‘disturbing’ about Luk’s artworks, something that similarly to the genius ‘California Dreaming’ series by David Hockney, the godfather of British Pop Art, cannot be ‘read’ literally.
Ania Luk, ‘Summertime 2’, 2017
I remember very well that when I saw Luks paintings for the first time I was sure that I am dealing with a visionary artist who isn’t afraid to speak with metaphors and who has recognized ‘the weak points’ of the modern world and effortlessly plays with it. Luk’s power to feel, and in great measure, to express, will live the impact on the face of contemporary Art. In her recent series ‘Summertime’ and ‘Supergirl’, AniaLuk is touching ‘difficult topics’ such as narcism, perfectionism, self-centeredness of a ‘Selfie-Generation’, feminism, materialism, beauty and sexual freedom of 21st century.
Since Supergirl from my dream was my ‘temporary friend’, spending there a warm summer day with her gave me a clear idea of what Supergirls are like. When you look attentively at the painting by Ania Luk you might notice those things yourself.
Supergirls always live according to their own rules. Just like a Modern Sirens they seduce everybody who comes near them with their intoxicating charm. But there is also a certain warning in their eyes : ‘This could be heaven, or this could be hell’. They believe in a ‘Miss Independent’ and ‘Miss Happy On My Own’ scenario for life which they explain with too many disappointments from the past. They are very strong, decisive and at time even ruthless – a modern femme fatale that you could not fool around with or play games with. If you do, just like the unpredictable Claire Underwood from the famous American series’The House of Cards’, she will find you and destroy you.
Ania Luk, Supergirl 2, 2017
Have any of you ever met a Supergirl? I am sure you must have heard of her kind.
Supergirl is an aspiring celebrity, a happy single lady, size 34, 30+ woman with a tiny dog to keep her company in a lonesome moments of her life. Apart from this she’s eating very healthy, using organic comestics, travelling a lot, living a life of a princess, with the ridiculously expensive designer clothes in her luggage, a well-trained body, perfect nails, exquisite hair style, red-lipstick and flawless skin, worshiping false Gods, material wealth and excess.
With the thousands of followers on social media she almost never gets really lonely or starts feeling blue. She works as a free-lancer and spends her holiday in luxury locations. Does that sound familiar to you?
It should not come as a surprise that just like in the ‘Hotel California’ the mind of Supergirls is ‘Tiffany twisted’. In their free time they attentively follow all the beauty and fashion trends, surrounding themselves with luxury goods and people who belong to the hermetic ‘bold and beautiful’. Just so that you know it for sure, a Supergirl isn’t interested in moral life based on God’s teachings. You can try to impress her, but be aware that you are entitled to nothing.
Let’s get back for a moment to my Hotel California. While lying there in the picturesque L.A. by the pool, looking carelessly at the clear blue sky near the Beauty Queen I noticed that my Perfect Friend looked as if she was already slightly bored waiting for the waiter to bring her the glass of refreshing white wine.
The Eagles song came to end and with the heart beating fast in my chest I realized that there was just one little thing that my Supergirl forgot to tell me about living in the Hotel California.
Something that Eagles knew so well while they were busy with writing their famous and celebrated song. Something that David Hockney has always been very familiar with and succesfuly expressed on his artworks. Something that while looking at Ania Luk’s paintings made me stop what I was doing and think.
That something made me desperately want to wake up from my dream immediately.
‘ You can check anytime you like, but you can never leave.’
David Hockney, Beverly Hills housewife (diptych), 1966-67