[Text exp. ‘Arranz-Bravo. The moment of painting’. New York: Franklin Bowles Gallery, oct. 2017]
‘All acts of love gaze at both the moment and at eternity’
Eduard Arranz-Bravo finds tributes embarrassing. Yes, alright, it was his 75th birthday. So what? In his artistic time, only the present exists. Arranz-Bravo belongs to that breed of artists whose creation respects the tempo of painting, which is the moment made eternal. That does not mean that he never looks back; it means that, when he does, he looks farther back than yesterday. Hence his interest in the so-called primitive painters. And it does not mean that our artist never looks to the future; it means that, when he does, he looks farther forward than tomorrow. Hence his interest in the cosmos. His is a gaze given perspective by his philosophy of living the moment absolutely. A gaze that Nietzsche would call unearthly: a dimension without time or space, as these are dissolved in the collision with the moment, the moment lived in powerful, ardent passion.
This attitude to things is evident in Arranz-Bravo’s recent painting in both form and concept. For example, let us look at the various series that he has created since 2105 and which form the main body of works on show at his new exhibition at the Franklin Bowles Gallery in New York and San Francisco. For the most part, these pieces recreate moods, states of mind, concentrated in maximum artistic expression, passionate and poetic. Take, for instance, the 2015 series Everduring: in it, the artist attempts to give unvarying form to the experience of a moment of euphoria and passion. Those moments that make life worth living, when everything is illuminated, experienced to the full, in time and space. Formally speaking, in Arranz-Bravo’s art this Nietzschean experience is perfectly expressed: a huge symphony of colours – now yellow, now orange, now blue – herald the emergence of a human form which, through expressive elements reminiscent of primitive art, vibrates with joy at the axis of the composition.
Arranz-Bravo has also created other series that are inspired by this euphoric mood: Moments (2015), Hip-Hip (2016), Joy (2016, Plaer (“Pleasure”, 2016), True Amore (2016) and so on. It seems that our artist has entered a clearly musical period. In some cases, as we have mentioned in other articles, his tempo of choice is the counterpoint: painting, understood as a low note, clearly differentiated from the compositional harmony of the background (as we find, for example, in Big Tender and Big Dream). However, in the more euphoric series, the musical tempo is more like a symphony. A symphony of colours that erupt, burst out, in the background of the composition, like flavours exploding on the palate, and also an explosion of forms, as if the artist were attempting to capture, through volume and line, the waves of pleasure and energy generated by the intense experience of a life-filled moment. The consequence of all this is that, in these series, the central themes are great electromagnetic grids created through stroke, gesture and colour. This signifies a change in Arranz-Bravo’s painting, one that differentiates it from other periods in his artistic career, when he created clear, powerful signs and symbols, directly, without filtering them, at the centre of his works. These signs and symbols still appear – in the Hip-Hip series, for example – but a closer look reveals that these forms emerge from a cloud of colours and brushstrokes in the background of the composition. This seems to us a mature approach to painting: the forms generated are now the consequence of longer, richer, deeper reflection on the human experience.
The artist’s idea of living timelessly in the moment has a clear human model of reference: the child. This observation will come as nothing new to admirers of Arranz-Bravo’s work. We know his passion for horses, hobby horses, horse-riders: the earliest work by Eduard himself conserved at the Arranz-Bravo Foundation is a hobby horse, which he made when he was nine years old! Those who regularly spend time with him also know that, every day, Eduard makes sure to connect up with the child in himself. What fascinates him most about children is their attitude: their vitality, tenderness, authenticity, and their magical gaze at the world and people. To paint as if it were the first time we saw the world and people. To love as we love a father, a mother or a friend when we are ten years old. To perceive as a child perceives a tree, a leaf, an ant, a toy. That excited, dreamy, floating gaze, that is what Arranz-Bravo conserves and cultivates in such recent series as Tatano (Hobby Horse), Baby Horse (2015), Baby, Big Tender (2015) and even Big Dream (2016).
Because, at heart, it is all summed up in one simple word: love. True, the word is not fashionable these days. It may seem too sugary-sweet for our refined sensibilities. But love, in Arranz-Bravo’s work, is the fountain from which all his imagery flows. Arranz-Bravo transmits this emotion in his work with the highest conceptual vigour, like Plato reflecting on love at the banquet in Symposium, and he does so through the most intense, authentic approach. Love is the source of pleasure, passion, intense experience of the present, the open, tender gaze of the child. Love for others, for nature, for oneself. At times, he imbues his work powerfully with love: True Amore (2015), for instance. At others, he expresses his love for others: Friends (2015), Three (2016) and so on. And, also, his love for himself, which in this case leads him to more existential reflection, about the future, about what is to come, as we can see in such pieces as Center (2016) and The Artist (2016). However, in all cases, love is the driving force in his painting, the life-embracing attitude that enables him to perform this dual exercise as he becomes practically a contortionist, engaging in his work with devotion and rigour: attempting to transmit, in the same artistic tempo, a passionate gaze, both at the present and at eternity.