Friday, December 05, 2014

the good life

This morning over breakfast, Ed the Artist is talking me into becoming the Peggy Guggenheim of Barra de Navidad.  Well, without the canals and all of the scandal.

In backing into eternity, I told you that Ed and his wife, Roxanne, had assisted me in installing fifteen of his paintings in the new house.  When I first showed him the place, he noted that it would be a perfect gallery space for paintings. 

I agreed.  The wall colors, terraces, and open spaces almost called out for art.

We kicked the idea around a bit.  Ed is primarily an abstract painter.  He does paint representational art.  But his true talent is his abstract work.  He fully understands its construction and composition -- and has an uncanny ability to connect the final link with the viewer.

Best of all, his art is accessible.  It does require a certain knowledge of art history (one of my favorite courses at university) and the theory behind abstract expression.  With those tools, entering into Ed's worlds on canvas is a joy.

Marcel Duchamp, who once said: "The spectator completes the art.  The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act," would be pleased with Ed's work.

I know there are plenty of people who are not fond of abstract expressionism.  I may once even have counted myself in that group.  But my travels over the past few years have opened my eyes to expressionism's beauty and poetry.

Yesterday morning we took a walk through the house to review some art history and to have an art appreciation conversation.  Ed is an encyclopedia of art.  After all, it is his livelihood. 

And I always enjoy looking at art with someone who is willing to share in its discussion.  To talk seriously about plastic space, the search for flatness, movement in a stationary art form.  And how each piece of good art should offer the possibility of reinterpretation on each viewing.

When Ed and Roxanne installed the pieces, I realized we had discovered the perfect starting point to turning the house into a place that reflected who I am and what I like.  I have often scoffed at folks who buy their art work to match the couch or drapes.  Why not start the other way around?  Find art that pleases, and then build the rest of the house around the art.

Initially, I wanted to see the paintings on the walls -- to see if they sparked any ideas.  They have.  My plans were to turn two of the pavilions on the upper terrace into a dining room and a sitting room.  That was the easy part.  The hard part was to pick a style of furniture.

Ed's paintings have sparked an idea for the dining room.  He has hung two of his paintings in each pavilion.  This piece is entitled La Mer or El Mar -- depending if the viewer is in a French or Spanish mood.  It is one of my favorites.  For many reasons.

As lush as La Mer is, the other painting in that pavilion, an untitled abstract, draws its internal strength from it primary black and white shapes graphically highlighted by expressionist yellow and red.

As I sat there looking at the angular space and the two abstract paintings, I knew immediately what the room needed to serve as a dining room.  Something art deco.  Not because the painting or the space is art deco, but because its angularity will be complemented by the angularity of an art deco table and chairs.

What I do know is that I really like the full collection of paintings.

Two large paintings greet visitors as they enter through the gates.  This is Ed's homage to the modern Mexican women of Mexico and their indigenous roots in Ajijic.

And Ed's little inside joke in Nude Descending a Staircase as a witty reconstruction of Duchamp's most famous piece (even though a lot of people mis-identify Duchamp's work as a Picasso).  Ed's evokes the poetry of jazz.

But probably not as much as this more representational piece -- Latin Jazz.  During the past week, I have sat in my living room picking out the inner relationships of Ed's columnar style in this work.  I had a Linda Le Kinff piece in my Salem music room that had the same spirit of jazzy musical movement.

On the other end of the living room hangs Two Women.  Unlike the abstract expressionist paintings that strive for a feeling of a single plane, this painting incorporates Cezanne's multiple plane mode, leaving the impression that the two figures are carved of stone.  The arches in the background are definitely behind the figures.

Abstract Women hangs in my bedroom.  You have seen it before -- just over a year ago -- in could you open that can of worms for me?  In that piece, the chair picked up the red in the paintings.  In my bedroom, my gray sheets pick up the purple.  But it is the shapes in the art itself that interest me.

Even the kitchen has a bit more color with the addition of Three Women.  But it is not there for that purpose alone. 

Of course, the color in art matters.  It is one of the components an artist uses to communicate with a viewer.  But all of the elements of a good painting make up that communication.  This one makes me smile every morning.

I think all three of us agreed that the star attraction is this untitled abstract that greets visitors across the pool when they enter the house.  It hangs on the landing of the staircase to the upper terrace.

The piece bursts with kinetic power -- provided in large part by Ed's gestural strokes across the face of the painting.  But it is also a very intricately organized piece. 

Ed's columns are very easy to see in this work.  But the spaces where the columns are breached do not connote disorder.  Instead, they create an interlocking pattern.  Similar to a puzzle with complementary pieces.

It is also a whale of a conversation piece.

So, there you have it.  The full collection that currently graces my house.  Before the end of the day, I should have some idea how many puppies I am going to raise.

Have I mentioned before that I love living here in Mexico?


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