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Dr. Jorge-Luis Maeso Madronero at Skylight Gallery NYC

August 19, 2011

There’s very little as interesting as watching the creative process in action. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about astrophysics or art, the process whereby something new and inventive emerges is simply fascinating. Luckily for all of us, Dr. Maeso’s current exhibit at Skylight provides a window into this process.

You wouldn’t know it from his name, but Dr. Maeso is a German painter, one of a group of five close friends, all artists, who live in close proximity and who work influences each other. His parents moved the family from Spain to Germany in the early 1950’s; he is the proud product of both cultures.

Normally, he works in traditional methods and media, oil or acrylic on canvas. One day, he had a brainstorm. What would be the results if he tried working in pure pigment? The issues: how to make the pigment adhere, how to create texture, how to create depth? Time to experiment.

As he described it to us, here is the process. First, he puts a layer of adhesive as a ground. Then he shakes, pours, tosses the powdered pigment onto the adhesive surface. But that’s not nuanced enough so then he sprays water onto his painting and moves it around to see how the water runs off and affects the pigmented areas. Better – more interesting but adhesion can still be a problem on some pieces. What’s the best way to make something stick to glue – add weight, of course. In this case, Dr. Maeso turns the pieces over and walks on them! Every step in the process is a discovery.

The results are glorious, superb paintings with color, texture and dimensions you’ll see if you’re lucky enough to see this show before it closes at the end of August. Here are nuances to look for:

The black painting entitled Oscuro was influenced by Caravaggio who used darkness to create light.

In the orange painting, Gitana, the brilliant cobalt provides dimension because the pigment adhered as nodules and didn’t diffuse into the base color.

The green painting, entitled Mosque, continues the theme of darkness leading to light in a peaceful way while the blue painting, entitled Mar, uses darkness in a somewhat bleak way.

Dr. Maeso’s creative experiment is a success; each of these paintings is superb in its own right. As a group, they are powerful and simply excellent.

Alas, he is now returning to traditional methods having done 20 of these pigment paintings.

But do try to see the originals. It’s well worth your time. Skylight Gallery is on W29 St. between 10tth and 11th Avenues.

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