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Monday, June 23, 2014

Ruben Belloso Adorna

Adorna gives a whole new slant to "hand-eye coordination."
Although I sometimes make exceptions, I tend not to write about living artist. First of all, I'm not in the business of promoting working artist (except for one). Also, except for extremely old artists, I consider most living artists to be "works in progress," thus anything I write today would have a relatively short "shelf-life" and need to be amended quite often. Likewise, it's not wise to look at art or art history from a mere two inches beyond your nose. Contemporary art and artists alike take at least twenty years to gel into anything even approaching "history." Fifty years is more reasonable. Then there's often the sticky problem of copyrights in featuring living artists. Dead artists tend not to care much about such trivialities (although sometimes their living heirs do).
Ruben Belloso Adorna Self-portrait
Today, in looking at Spanish artist, Ruben Belloso Adorna, I'm not so much interested in the man, but the amazing things he can do with a few sticks of that yucky, dirty, dusty, colored-chalky stuff known as pastels. As one might gather, I've used them a few times and I'm not in love with them. More accurately, I've come to hate them. Normally, I'm not even particularly fond of pastel art. It's too delicate, too fragile, and they have to be divorced from artistic reality by the imposition of some transparent form of protective armor. They need literally to be handled with kid (or cotton) gloves. Moreover I prefer the much more stable and quite similar qualities of colored pencils (Prismacolors are my favorite). Yet, I have to admit, in looking at Adorno's work, they do seem to be (in his hands, at least) a little more versatile than colored pencil pigments, even in stick form.
The Decline of Venus, in progress, Ruben Belloso Adorno
Adorno's work is termed as "Hyperrealism." So that's what they're calling it this month. For varying lengths of time in the past it's been called Super-realism, Photorealism, and a couple other equally confusing and overlapping terms. I guess Hyperrealism is as good a word as any. Generally, such labels have to do with painting. Adorno draws, even though pastelists have, in the past, referred to what they do as "painting." To me, paint in any workable form is, by definition, at least somewhat wet. Whether wet or dry, Hyper/Super/Photo Realism is usually quite large in format--especially the case when working with such a blunt instrument as a chick of pastels. Adorno's drawings are life-size--meaning his faces are as tall as he is. God only knows how big they'd be if he was doing full-length figures. In any case, even just his exquisitely detailed portrait faces must cost a fortune to frame under glass. Quite apart from museums, do even the rich and famous, who can afford his art, really have empty walls large enough to display them?
Not all of Adorna's subjects have wrinkles.
They all do have an amazing range of colors, though.
Despite Adorno's medium of choice, I have to admire his work, if for no other reason than the fact I could never do anything like it (in any media). I once had a college art instructor (Adorno is a college art instructor) who, while admiring my adroit handling of paint, criticized my work as "technique over creativity." I'm not saying he was wrong at the time, but I do have the feeling the same criticism would apply to Adorno. At what point in art (painting, drawing, butter sculpture, whatever), does technical prowess overwhelm creative expression? It's, no doubt, a fine line, and one which varies from artist to artist and viewer to viewer. The question is, has Ruben Belloso Adorno crossed it? Despite my admiration, I tend to think he has.

This Adorna face seems to be lacking something.
(He also paints.)


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