Alfredo Palmero

Alfredo Palmero art painter Barcelona Catalonia museum | Love 2 Fly

Catalan Painter Alfredo Palmero Loves Visitors      June 13, 2017     Inka Piegsa­Quischotte

“Hola, hola! Is that you? I’m coming”, a lanky, pony­tailed figure, leaning precariously out of an upstairs window, called down to us.

Moments later, the heavily carved front door opened, and we were admitted to the realm of Alfredo Palmero, reknowned painter as well as proud inhabitant of one of the oldest, best preserved and impressive masias (farmhouses) in all of Catalonia. It’s not located out in the sticks, however, but much more conveniently in Vall d’Hebron, once a small country village that’s now an outlying neighbourhood of greater Barcelona, reachable from downtown via Metro line L3.

You can’t mistake Alfredo (known to his friends as Fredy) for anything than an artist. Flowing locks, paint­stained track suit, and fingers which the 51­year­old discreetly wiped on a cloth before shaking hands. Happily, no airs whatsoever – first­name basis straightaway.

‘I like visitors,’ he said, ‘but only two or three at a time. They come here to know more about my art and I want to know about them, and you can’t have that kind of conversation with a group.” His English is not fluent, but his sister is nearby to assist if needed.

Palmero’s artistic history is a fascinating as his masia. He’s a third­generation painter who learned his art from his father and grandfather. Both became well known as painters of landscapes, horses and seascapes in a very realistic manner. Using their art as foundation, Fredy has developed his very own style, combining tradition with a modern interpretation. Colour, light, and life are what’s important to him – as are, he admits with a wink, the ladies.

So it doesn’t come as a surprise that he has become most famous for his series of harlequins and especially meninas (royal ladies in waiting, above). His inspiration for the latter comes from Diego Velazquez’ famous 1656 painting Las Meninas, which today hangs in Madrid’s Prado Museum.

That canvas depicts the daughter of King Philip IV, Margaret Theresa, surrounded by her maids of honour, dogs, dwarfs and the maestro Velázquez himself as he paints them in the left­ hand background. According to the fashion of the time and her ranks, the girls wear huge, stiff crinolines which didn’t allow them to pass through a door straight on. Their hairdos are rather stiff too – in part straight with an odd little curl on the side.

What Alfredo saw was the potential to create a very different kind of women, in even bigger skirts yet much more at ease than the poor little princess and her companions. The result is an ever growing series of young women, literally rising up like flowers out of huge, colorful skirts with elaborate, incredible patterns, looking at you from the canvass with am impressions that seems to say: hey, come on, have fun. Their hairdos are exaggerated bunches of crinkly hair – something like Alfredo’s very own version of an afro. The overall composition is indeed one of light, life and fun.

“It’s an homage to women in all their facets”, he told us. The effect of light is enhanced by a special finish he uses, a mixture or ground glass and charcoal, so the paintings actually glitter.

Palmero isn’t the only modern painter who’s been inspired by Velazquez’ masterpiece; Pablo Picasso, for example, famously created 58 versions of meninas in 1957. Which brings us to his other theme, the harlequins. Here, too, Alfredo said, “I was also inspired by Picasso. My artistic formation is based on the realism which characterises the work of my father and grandfather. I’m not an abstract painter like Picasso and would never try. The idea of the harlequin though, the mixture of seriousness – even sadness – with colour and joy made me create my own version. My harlequins are all female but, in a way, I see myself in them, too.”

“Who are your models”? I asked. “My daughter and her girlfriends”, he replied. “They love the way they look in my paintings”.

Although best known for the meninas and harlequins, Palmero continues to paint another favourite: horses. Standing in his huge downstairs showroom (above), hung with at least a couple dozen canvases, and with pride, he led my friend and me to an enormous canvas leaning against a wall, depicting a rearing, wild, white horse on a beach. Involuntarily, I took a step back because it felt as if the fiery animal might jump out of the canvass at any moment.

Laura Tan

PoetsArtists    Issue 85    June 2017

By Lorena Kloosterboer

Laura Tan is an American artist based in Florida, USA, whose body of work chronicles three decades of self-portraits that record how she feels and sees herself in an unfiltered, emotional response towards a specific moment in her life. Based on prolific sketches, watercolors, and photographs, Tan’s starts by staining her paintings, adding experimental textures and building up paint which she intuitively modulates and transforms by wiping and scraping into its fresh layers. She often returns to preexisting paintings, recycling and modifying them in a free and eloquent manner to enhance a personal narrative.

Tan’s enthralling self-portrait, entitled Cutoffs, draws me because of its solemn simplicity and candid honesty. Tan portrays herself without frills or conscious seduction, bluntly presenting herself as she is; a modern middle-aged woman gazing directly at the viewer, celebrating her inner strengths by de-emphasizing her gender as an identity. The relaxed pose, distressed surface textures, and sophisticated warm and cool color palette suggest the passage of time. The—to me, highly recognizable—wear and tear of gentle yet undeniable aging that slowly transforms natural beauty and grace is an inexorable process of physical and emotional change we all encounter and which isn’t easy to embrace and accept.

Laura Tan Cutoffs | oil on linen on board | 46x32 inches or 116.75x81.25 cm

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