Painter – Painting

Only as from the modern era, did the material scale of painting start making an integral part of the perception of a work of art. In a certain way, for the artist, working on the question of scale therefore meant setting oneself the aim of creating a chromatic space that involved the whole viewer while at the same time, generously transmitting the experience that all artists worthy of the name, say they use: allowing their attention to become fully absorbed in the work by applying shapes and colours on a two dimensional surface, or by the movement of an arm and hand holding the brush while leaving their marks of this moment recorded on the canvas being painted. In order to pin-point when this process started, we may quite easily go back to the beginning of the Baroque period and the purpose that was laid down then, seeking to give rise to aesthetic emotion in the viewer. We recall the enormous painted ceilings in the churches of the time, in the way light and reflection was handled on the walls of the majestic palatial galleries built during this era a little everywhere throughout Europe, the size (but also the studied poses, the contrasts between light and shadow among the different planes represented) of the court paintings themselves, and in a certain way, in the attempt emerging throughout the Western world and instilled in the public spirit, to link the size of the work of art to the extent of its owner’s power.

Lita Cabellut’s painting is not concerned with power, skies torn asunder, nor the nobly idealised images of governors and lords, and justly so when she states that what interests her is representing the grandeur of the human soul. But the introduction we are making here, makes sense when we concentrate on the feelings her work causes in us, the viewers and admirers of a masterful technique that we could say belongs more in another time than it does in our own. In fact, Cabellut possesses a rare quality where the technical know-how she inherited from the great paintings of days gone by made on canvas or wooden slats, overlaps her incessant up-dating of the subject matter based on the painting genres appearing in the 17th century: between portrait and landscape (because abstract painting is interpreting space and for this reason is conceptually close to landscape), between the genre scene and still life, even when we perceive that she has momentarily put aside her brushes to take a staged photograph and paint over it, as if she wants to tell us, the observers of what she is painting, that more than the reality of the photograph, it is the truth of the painting that matters.

Lita Cabellut is fully aware of the ability that her work has in captivating the viewer, like a spider weaving a web from which there is no escape. “When I paint, I am in the painting. It´s me. You know what happens? You can only paint or create what you know. Empathy happens because we recognize ourselves in something. We cannot feel something we don´t know. It´s impossible, just an illusion.

Painting-painter. About her, her biography is also known, carrying us almost back to the domains of myth. It is said that she was abandoned right after she was born; she was later taken in by her grandmother; she lived on the streets of Barcelona before she was adopted at 13 years of age by a wealthy family. Cabellut says that after she was adopted, she recalls a visit to the Prado Museum and the impression that not only Velásquez caused on her but also the masters of the Dutch Baroque period, Rembrandt and Franz Hals. It was then that she knew she wanted to be a painter. She studied and already an adult, moved to Holland because of the light she said. In other words, as much or more that what the universe of the strange hybrid creatures that we encounter in her painting which, she reckons, are all self- portraits, she is interested in the very fundamental element that has always disturbed painters; the quality of light in a place, in an atmosphere, the same quality that through the morning ashiness and mists of this flat land, with no mountains, with nothing to break the view of the horizon, the brilliance of warm colours and the splendour of light-dark stand out.

It is said that there are no colours more vivid than those of the Renaissance in the Low Countries; saturation that only the recently discovered oil painting technique was able to afford. Lita Cabellut, who studied the ancient art of the country she chose to live in, was certainly not unaware, just as she was not unaware of the fascination shown by Velásquez or Goya, her fellow countrymen, in the representation of the human comedy . It is in grappling with the tradition of the Spanish Golden Age or even afterwards, that we are able to measure the strength of the figures that stare out at us from huge canvases. Building a space that is filled by the painting which is so characteristic of today’s international scene – think of the German artist Gerhard Richter who also paints large canvases and blends detailed photographic reproductions with free-sweeping, intense movements that are his trademark; or Francis Bacon, who interprets human suffering via human (literal or figurative) deformation and de-composition in diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs when they are not represented in the midst of a circus arena for our own personal show – juxtaposes the summoning of ancestral signs which a Tapiès or a Saura, and even a later Miró included in their work time and time again. In the monumental nature of the work she does, Lita Cabellut carries on a permanent dialogue with the history of painting, and more specifically, with the likewise monumental nature of the Spanish history of painting. She has always insisted that more than the process, what interests her is the idea, the dialogue that may ensue with the empty canvas and basically, what it asks of her. A dialogue between the titans, therefore. A dialogue that is also a conversation with History itself.

Luísa Soares de Oliveira

From the catalogue of the exhibition “Poetry Never Gives Up” Centro Cultural de cascais

ISBN 978-972-8986-93-3