Apaga La Luz - Homage to Juan
With these new works, I pay homage to an ancestor: Juan Arellano, Lolo Juan, younger brother of Papa‘s papa, Arcadio.. He was better known as the architect of the Post Office and other Commonwealth buildings. His architecture was mostly Classical but his painting mostly Impressionistic- and, not a few of them were wild, rife with riddles and replete with sexuality. Lolo Juan had always been known as the family’s Don Juan after all.
This was a clan-destined clandestine exercise, like sitting at the foot of the master and learning the ropes, but with him no longer there- only his nudes in watercolour and in oil. Ideally I would’ve loved to show our pieces side by side, like a tandem show where I imagined we had sat together in front of the naked model- he painting and I sculpting away. Instead here are his nudes- enfleshed. I added the third dimension and offer the tactile.
It’s been quite an educational experience translating painting into sculpture. The colors that added so much warmth and passion are now stone white, cast marble reliefs. And that line that so defined that curve disappears once you but move. I reveled in the beauty that Lolo Juan had created, and learned so much if only from the anatomy lessons that had to be carefully reviewed with his odd twists of the human form. I’ve looked into mythology and other cultures, traveled far and wide in search of eros only to find it at home, running through my veins.
Very few are now privileged to see the paintings in the original, so I have brought them back in the flesh for more people to see and appreciate. We reconnect to the past, learn from it and pass it on.
*“Apaga la luz, porque me molesta” [Turn off the light because it bothers me]
- “Apaga la luH porque me moleHta”- Oval : W:19” x Ht: 13”
- “Zapatos” - Oval :12” x 9 ¼”
- “Tempesta” – Maquette: W: 9 ¾” x Ht: 8 ½” Edition: 17 ¼” x 15”
- “Smoking Juanita” In the Round- Ht: 6 ¾”
- “Salome” – Maquette: Ht:13 ½” x W: 8 ¼” Edition: Ht: 18” x 11 ½”
- “Apaga la luH porque me moleHta”. Papa told me this was how it would be pronounced in Spain- the zeta and the s were simply an aspirated sound, not “th” as we were taught in school. He learned this while traveling with Lolo Juan and this was an ancestral remembrance that would stay with me from childhood. It was while translating this painting that I imagined the nude model who’d been posing on the red sofa for hours uttering this at the end of the session. I gave her an impish look of invitation and little curls that as kids we called “kiss me”, then simply floated her against a background of plywood, a material Lolo Juan and other painters of his time often used.
- “Zapatos”. For as long as I can remember this watercolor has always been my favorite; the nude with the black high heeled shoes. What did that finger pointing down mean then? Is it as we say now, a sign for let’s “do” it? I enclosed her in a frame shaped like a jewel, a cameo.
- “Tempesta”. When I first considered this nude, I’d imagined that, with a twist of her torso; the very waves were swept into a typhoon, It was raining hard; no doubt that influenced me. I arched the frame and almost deified her in my mind: goddess of the wind - Tempesta. Looking more closely at the photo, I realized he’d painted fields, not water.
- ”Smoking Juanita”. A pregnant woman squatting- smoking! Instead of her sitting in bed she’s in the stream, bathing, getting ready to launder clothes along with the other village women.
- “Salome”. I used a gothic arch to frame this bold image that has been reproduced by countless other artists., but not one googled looked like Juan’s. Salome seems to arch in ecstasy as she holds the head of her mother Herodias’ arch enemy, St. John the Baptist, close to her heart.