Beyond the spells and curses, a victorious fight for life …
Beyond the spells and curses, a victorious fight for life …
Lita Cabellut, the momentum of a doe ready to pounce, in her fiery and rebellious fifties.
“Painting to exhaustion and mastering my art,” is the motto of Lita Cabellut, artist, gypsy, half-witch, half-fairy godmother on a visit to Beirut. *
Edgar Davidian | OLJ
An orphaned Gypsy, an adopted daughter of the poor neighbourhoods of Barcelona, madly in love with freedom, flair and honesty to testify of human wounds. With the momentum of a doe ready to pounce, in her fiery and rebellious fifties. Ebony black hair flowing on her shoulders, eagle-eyed, hard-cut features and the nonchalant attitude of Carmen with huge yellow earrings. Her voice is not soft, but brimming with warmth and generosity of heart. Lita Cabellut speaks in English peppered with a Spanish accent. Fearless words that narrate all the mysteries and hidden sides of life. To make the world better. By tracking evil and highlighting what we cannot see with the naked eye. Like the light that radiates from the dazzling staging of her paintings exhibited at the Opera gallery in Beirut.
Fifteen mega paintings, without the slightest trace of acrylic paint, in which the multiple sides of women’s faces shine. With flowers and various positions of busts, arms, bodies. A lush world of colours, fabrics, flesh – radiant and delicate. In a pictorial impression of the great masters of all times. A disturbing mirror that the gallery holds up through the masterful brush and palette of Lita Cabellut.
But actually, that name Lita, which means “God be with you” … Where does it come from?
“I don’t know, she smiles. I was given it. We must trust others. But I would have liked to be named Barbara or Sarah. But it probably comes from Manuella or Manolita … ”
She recently arrived from The Hague, her elected and preferred country, on her first visit to Beirut. Beirut. Enthralment. Not in front of the steel and glass monoliths, not before the light of the Mediterranean Sea or even the sun-drenched landscapes. What touches Lita Cabellut is the human element above all. “Amazing country, says the artist point blank. This country should be an example to all, with its melting pot of communities. It is difficult to live with different others, but there is nothing better than to build through diversity and contradictions. And I am amazed by the happiness and the joy of the people here. It shines in their eyes … ”
Her painting career is at its peak since she fell in love at first sight with The Three Graces by Rubens encountered at the Prado. Painting until exhaustion and mastering her art (“like the permanent repetition in kung-Fu to achieve perfect gestures”, says the artist) is her motto. In her studios her feverish moments of inspiration have generated more than two thousand paintings, not counting those she mercilessly destroyed.
What theme has she got in store for the bustling capital of the country of the Cedar tree, the prolific artist who has boldly searched the depths of Coco Chanel, Frieda Kahlo, Stravinsky, Kafka, Freud, Nureyev, Trotsky and Piaf. Whilst stopping work for the Mome (Piaf), stricken by the unbearable fragility of the singer with the violated childhood …
“The poetry of flowers and fairy tales. Between shadow and light, beyond good and evil, the parity of a complex expression, always trying to unravel and decipher but which reveals the eternal, renewal and rebirth. For a spirit of continuity and continuation. Still hoping for a positive fragrance, that is what I want to give Beirut … “she emphasises.
And on the picture rails, lit up with the bright lights of fireworks, in a dance charged with furious zest for life, images of women carrying flowers are proudly displayed. They hold them in their hands, on their knees, close to their hearts. With faces that could narrate stories of all ages, from all horizons. Like a lifted veil on Donkey Skin, Cinderella, Melusine, Morgan, Viviane, Alice in Wonderland … Ruby red lips, sensual or tightened, with eyes whose irises scan life and its wonders. With extravagant hairstyles enhanced with feathers, turbans or pearls where the hair (red, Venetian blonde, chestnut, and raven black or liquorice-coloured) has intricate and sophisticated waves.
The allegory, a drama covered in silk, taffetas, chiffon, gauze and brocade, with no specific decor and in a timeless space, refers to reality in its meanders, labyrinths, underground, darkness, traps, deliverances, and its rays of light. Intense, poetic, with powerful energy, painting here is a sovereign art and unbridled imagination extremely close to reality, in the combination of colours, materials and motion. And spreading sensations, impressions and atmospheres.
The tour de force? Work that seems arisen from the most rigorous and imposing classicism coated in the most surprising modernism. As if Rembrandt, Velasquez, Goya and Bacon had met on a brush touched by magic snake oil with sure effectiveness.
* The exhibition “Fairy Flowers” by Lita Cabellut is extended at the Opera Gallery (Avenue Foche) in the city centre to June 18
“Colours? They are emotion! “
Lita Cabellut in a few questions.
Which relation with the colours?
I mix and squeeze them without ever using a drop of acrylic. Oil, tempera, pigments, eggs, a concoction with a secret formula that I won’t divulge, like a skin we religiously care for … For beauty, youth, radiance, whilst we are aware of the tyranny of ageing. Actually those false wrinkles, those false cracks, those ripples on the smooth surface are a vivid illustration for a painting that confronts time. The colour is the emotion and the link to all our abilities.
When were you happiest?
When I was out and about at the top of the Pyrenees! A cosmic euphoric feeling! But I am also happy when I work. I want to die working. And when I die, I know it is to be reborn! Painting saved my life. And my children (she has three of her own and two adopted) saved me from the darkness…
Which female painters do you admire?
Frieda Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois (for the conflict between intelligence and sensation) and Leonor Fini…
And what about all those flowers?
Before leaving this wonderful gallery of portraits of women dressed for celebrations, between countesses, sultanas or courtesans, what about all the flowers they held in their hands, that are not even completely withered? Lita Caballut, who has more than one string to her bow, reshuffles the cards, stages them, photographs them, splashes them with paint and redraws the contours and the composition, between ceramic vases and metal wires. The result is breath-taking. They are not Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Cézanne chrysanthemums or Matisse’s anemones, and even less Bruegel’s basket, but on this aniline black background, they are something else. A special blend of floral art of the Renaissance, Ikebana and details of the garden of delights of Arcimboldi. A unique effect (even if sometimes there is too much pink!), like the reverse of a decor, of what dies and lives at the same time, of those ladies past and present who delicately held those flowers in their fingers just a few moments ago. Until the end, Lita Cabellut therefore has the gift and the talent to invent, to narrate, to surprise, to revolutionise, to sprinkle with poetry, to amaze, to lift – with a powerful heritage of a classical knowledge and base … She is an agitator, a good fairy at heart!