Art Critic Text

Josep Cadena
Art Critic
Awarded the Cross of Saint George (St.Jordi) of the Council of Catalonia.

From birth, without yet knowing how or why, one experiences the grand pleasure of light. It is born from the loving spirits (all mothers love that which grows in their wombs) yet paradoxically, they are in darkness – and within them all is a mystery. There, one finds oneself in a kingdom in which the self is transformed into something real and unique. Fiat lux, as the bible advises; reminding us, without any explanation of the origin of light other than: “in the beginning…there was light.” Well then, the paintings of Ramon Vilanova, of which I have been given the opportunity to write about, contain this proverbial light. This same light presents to us a wonderful pleasure; a great satisfaction from the discoveries of the artist. Discoveries he shares with all of us who follow his work. He shows us this light from the most specific, the most absolute Mediterranean which, in turn, illuminates the elements which show themselves to be universal.

Ramon Vilanova (caldes de Montbui, Vallés Occidental, 1947) was born in a small catalonian town, in which a unique language is spoken: Catalan. a language with latin roots, a language brought over by the ro¬man legionnaires and colonizers, sister to spanish, French, Italian and the other romance languages. I mention this, of course, because we must be aware that we all see the world through our language’s peculiar perso¬nality. ramon was brought up within a simple family, habituated to the difficulties of years that were difficult for everyone, never mind for the families without any substantial means, who would have felt marginalized from all social and political activity. He experienced from a young age the delight that comes from exploring one’s surroundings. He connected with the country, smooth and also varied – there is a proverb which, by all appearances, originated from the pride people feel for their own country: “com el Vallés, no hi ha rés,” (No place can possess, the character of el Vallés.) which plainly demonstrates the capacity of affection for what is close – something which he heartily embraced since childhood. When he would go into the country, due to the short stature of growing children, he would gaze at the grasses at the edge of the trail instead of the majestic curves of the mountains or the grand panoramas. In the vegetable patch of his home, he would observe flowering plants growing from improvised pots, made from water buckets filled with holes, now put to use by planting geraniums or maybe a rose bush which would freely grow from those small patches of earth, watered with love and delicacy.

Light, that which goes beyond any form and that which stimulates the most varied sensations, was, and still is the main component of ramon Vilanova’s grand pictorial mastery. Facing the light each day, he goes to work with the pleasure and innocence of a good student that always at¬tends school and never skives off, simply because he enjoys what he is continually learning. I have heard him talk about his outings in search of places to paint – he says he is equally drawn to the depths of nature and the sea, the only condition is that they have to be places that seem to happen spontaneously – without a clear direction, in search of the unk¬nown. He improvises, and yet he is conscious of what he is to find, it could be an ‘inner’ path in the middle of a forest, or a place that has been lost amongst inhospitable rocks shaped rhythmically by the waves for lack of a sandy beach. all the while he notices impressions, passing by slowly. and in between, he finds flowers that speak to him, or a freshness left by the rain once the clouds that brought it passed, or a passing storm which he did not count on, and the wind, pleased with what it finds, undulating and reminding him of the sea that he visited days ago. Moreover, there are the tremors of the afternoon, when the sun begins its fall and the first signs of night make their appearance … everything has profound meaning to him, which he poetically expresses with his brushes and also, with the titles that he gives his paintings once finished and which I recommend reading in this book and in the others he has already published. In those few words tumble the complexity of his feelings.

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