Madness and Reason Series
I paint you on the edges of sharpened knives
In the trapeze swings
where balance is a duel
between death and bravery.
In the theaters
where they applaud with the soles of their feet,
our hands are tied
to the back of the chair.
We don’t reach what we see
we don’t touch what we desire,
I paint you
with your mouth shut tight
and your nose wide like a bull
and holding in tenderness
a shout that scares the brightness of the colors.
Sometimes I paint you
with pain of anguish
and without forgiving I leave you
with the indigos and violets
I close the door
I go out
searching for another color
in the same
with the contrast
When I finish a painting and I sit down alone to re-examine and rediscover what has come out of my soul, I always read in the canvas, through the eyes, the mouth, the gestures, the colors, the lines fighting or kissing, a poem.
– Lita Cabellut
Bill Lowe Gallery
MADNESS AND REASON: LITA CABELLUT’S QUEST AND VISION
by Jerry Cullum, 2010
Lita Cabellut’s rise from Spanish street child of gypsy origins to internationally celebrated painter gives her a unique perspective on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, the novel that might be termed Spain’s anti-epic. For the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance is at once a hero and a Pure Fool after the manner of Parsifal, but with no Grail at the end of the quest, only rueful realization of his past madness and where it has led him.
INTERVIEW WITH LITA CABELLUT FROM DUBAI NEWSPAPER AL EMARAT AL YOUM
by Ali Al-Ameri, 2010
1. It seems that childhood memories typically accompany artists throughout their lives, and also interweave into their work. What was your childhood like? What details do you remember from that part of your life, can you give me details?
2. How have these memories influenced your experience of being an artist?
3. Your artwork transmits to the viewer a sentiment that makes us tremble because of its devastating beauty; works that electrify the viewer upon contemplation and that make us remember the lost happiness and love of tortured souls. What is it that your art can contribute?
4. Do you think that it brings consolation to a lost earthly paradise?
5. In your paintings and sculptures there is a tragic world. Where does this pain come from?
6. Is there loneliness and cruelty?
7. It seems like your art concentrates on the eternal expression of man and his psychological worlds, more than the external worlds. Why have you chosen the human face as a means to show all of these expressions?
8. In your poetry, how do you see the relationship between art and poetry? Above all I notice that poetry has impregnated your art work.
9. Is there a trace of the Arab culture in the components of your personality, given that your art is filled with intense emotion?
10. I have observed that you paint in large spaces, and it seems to me that you do so with all your body and emotions. Is it possible that the spaces are so small that they are not large enough to capture all your emotions?
11. I have seen that you use a very special technique to create your paintings, as well as the strokes you use to paint; what can you tell us about your technique?
by Mauricio Cortez
“It is a great pleasure to introduce the paintings of Lita Cabellut who I believe is one of the most significant artist in an expressionist genre today. Her art has given me much inspiration from the moment I encountered it for the first time.
Lita Cabellut, an artist in the true sense of the word, possesses a painterly method that is complex and intriguing. The content and breadth of human emotion depicted in her work is exemplary. She is able to take our most common feelings and transform them into a remarkable picture of the human condition.
While listening to Lita Cabellut one discovers the depths of her sensibility and her knowledge of history of western art, and with those foundations she makes a melting in a very special way, and results in an artist of the present who visualizes the human spectrum and gives it a very particular meaning. As we observe Lita’s paintings, we start uncovering worlds that were not there before; characters and very settle universes of color that did not seem to be there in the beginning. They flow with life, and slowly appear as far as our spirit let itself be guided by our sensorial and intellectual compass.
I am glad to share her work in the context of this book along with the essay realized by the art critic from New York, Robert Morgan.
In a time as uncertain and restless as today, it is enlightening to find an artist as Lita Cabellut, who seems to comprehend the human soul further that the mere and stamp it in to her canvases in beautifully poetic language. Her paintings go beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary. They reside in the realm of intimate expression, beside the most prominent art of the past.”
Robert C. Morgan (New York Art Critic)
“I am reminded of great poetry when I look at the paintings of Lita Cabellut.
There is something ineffable about them. To view a painting by Cabellut is to understand the course of figuration; that is, to empathize with the manner in which the figure is drawn, to see through the eyes of the artist into the eyes of the figure. This is what great poetry does, and this is what great painting attempts to portray. In the best sense, painting is concerned with the subtle passages of time, the hidden interval. Painting is a voyage, a happenstance disguised as certainty. It is viewed through the legacy of forgotten histories, remote geographies, lost continents of thought, and brilliant intuition. It is the power of mind and body fused into an inseparable whole, an elasticity if self confronting the necessary of its own figuration. This constitutes the vocabulary of art, the specific language, that gives us the power to understand who we are and how we live in the world.
This is the perennial challenge for the artist, to make this voyage, to gain access to the language of art. It is a most personal affair, a private journey.
To discover one’s language as an artist requires a significant rite of passage, a passage through the darkness where true insight reside. To view the paintings of Lita Cabellut is an act of reliving this experience. It is a journey through the darkness into light. For each of her paintings is possessed by a specific light. Cabellut understands this light. It is the kind of luminescence that one finds in the great masters, the axis between the Spanish and the Dutch Baroque painters of the 17th century. It is the light if the late Rembrandt, the ambient stillness found in Velazquez, the tortured silences found in Ribera, the passionate ecstasy found in Murillo, the gentle pulsation of the light that transforms the ordinary into the transcendent as found in Johannes Vermeer. For Cabellut, the discovery of painterly light is not fixed; it is persistent and temporally engaged with the surface. The consistency if her canvases is about the oscillation between the temporal process of her pictorial technique and the desire to secure that process in time, to place the image within time, to give it the sense of being natural, to project a mood that hovers between the immanent and the transcendent. This is where I would locate the painterly achievement of Lita Cabellut.
In this case, one cannot ignore the technique, because the way she paints is also the way she thinks. To place an image within time is not a fanciful gesture; the process involves a thorough formal knowledge of painting, an awareness of the history of art, and a motivation to go beyond the ordinary. Here is the paradox. For Cabellut, the act of painting was about the ordinary – people she would meet by chance. She had no preconceived idea as to whom she would meet or how she would arrange a sitting. She allowed life to intervene upon art and art to intervene within life; but the process of this two-fold intervention was always shifting. Cabellut understood early in that life influences art and art does the same with life. Though separate, they are in a sense together, Art and life play off one another.
But the technical apparatus is something she discovered through great study, focus, and concentration. This happened at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam in the early eighties. One can talk about inspiration, of course, but the language is limited. The point is to get at the practical aspect by which the signifying process of art begins to take hold. For Cabellut it was not merely an act of painting with oil on canvas. She wanted another kind if tactile relationship to the surface, a manner that went beyond the banal expectations of how to paint a picture. She wanted to fix the image in time, to give her portraits the sense that these human beings were living souls; she wanted to give evidence of these souls, to give them light, to persuade us that they existed in time and that she perceived them in a unique way.
The Italian technique of fresco bueno has a fascination for her, but then so did the Baroque notion of the oil painting. How to find a synthesis between the two? How to determine a new kind of process that would be fitting to the subject matter? How to give the sense of a glowing luminescence to these figures and portraits? And finally, how to place them within time?
For Cabellut, it was not possible to separate the manner of the technique from the emotional impact that she wanted to project trough the content of her work. The form would follow in relation to the process of how the paint would be applied. Not to force the form, but to allow the form to emerge on its own through the process of painting. Not to allow the form to become a predetermined entity, but to allow it to flow with a certain grace, a surprising evanescence that would go deeply within the interstices of her life experience, This is what she wanted to achieve – going back to the outset of her career when she first showed her work publicly in the town of Masnou (outside Barcelona) at age sixteen. Already she felt a connection with the classical painters of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Cabellut has lived in the Netherlands for over twenty years, yet she is fully cognizant of her inner-sensorial relationship to Catalan and Spanish culture. She understands completely that the axis between the Netherlands and Spain is not only a political one, but also an aesthetic one. She chose to enter into this axis, to make a profound connection through her painting. This required a special sensibility, a way of dealing with paint that was not predictable, but that could allow the figure to emerge in a way that was intimate and expressive.
Her technique involved the layering of plastic over the painterly ground. She gradually began to embed the viscous paint into the plaster by working with dry pigments and medium, adding water to the compound. This allowed a flowing sensation to occur whereby a relief effect began to emerge. The result was a rich, thickly endowed pigment that spilled around the edges to give the canvas a highly textured appearance. The excess water wan then removed from the plastic. The eventual drying of the paint revealed a cracked surface that occurred as a consequence of the plaster engaging with the oil pigments. She employed a large brush with a special binding agent that would adhere the cracked pigments into place, thus giving a translucent luster to the raised area of paint. The precision of this technique was as important to her as working with precious alloys or with highly sensitive stoneware.
Cabellut is deeply in tune with her materials. She has been quoted as saying on several occasions that her interaction with materials is the essence of her craft. Her handling and manipulation of the materials becomes essential each step of the way. She gives fastidious care to each application while at the same time allowing her work to move in a free form direction. The balance between control and indeterminacy has become a factor that collectors identify with her work. The formal and technical operations are directed toward the content of the paintings – to give the utmost sensation, though always with restraint, to achieve a sense of immateriality about the portrait. Paradoxically, Cabellut uses materiality to get at immateriality – which is another way of saying that she goes for the transcendent perception through the immanence that she endows to each painting.
Lita Cabellut is searching for subjects that have a special character, that – in a sense – represent all of humanity. She wants to delve into the soul of humanity, to represent all people as having a common ground, to show that we are all somehow connected to one another. Thus, we are seeing the figure through her eyes, but we are also experiencing the figure’s eyes regarding us. Through this approach of seeing, we begin to come to terms with the power of a figurative art that expresses more than the fashionable exterior and gives us instead a view from the interior looking outwards. When we look at the paintings of Lita Cabellut, we experience ourselves.”
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