There are actually not many ‘glory moments’ in the life of a visual artist.
Unlike performers in theatre, film, or music, there is no applause at the end of an artwork or even at an exhibition opening unless there’s a speech, and generally it’s the speaker and occasion that are politely applauded rather than the art itself. Yes, there are lovely comments from friends and art lovers, but I always feel that people are pretty much obliged to be polite and congratulate the artist when they are drinking free wine.
So, as a red carpet virgin, it is an adventure to experience the spotlights for the first time.
It is the Gerona Film Festival (an hour from Barcelona) where I am with the exceedingly talented Naomi Lisner who has written, directed, and acted in the short film ‘Hannah Rosenthal’. I feel like a ‘hanger on’ because I am there simply because one of my paintings features on the film poster (see the previous blog post for the back story), but the lovely Naomi insists that I accompany her onto the red carpet for the gala awards ceremony on the final evening.
In preparation we put on our glad rags and chunky high heels (the rugged cobblestones of the medieval streets are impossible to navigate with spiky stilettos). Seeing the crowds and spotlights ahead I start feeling shaky. Naomi drags me with her to the front where the public are queuing. Dumping our handbags and jackets to one side (you never see people on the red carpet with coats and handbags) we head onto the brightly lit platform.
Naomi is a pro at posing for the cameras, I am hopeless.
That is until Lluís, the director of the festival, jumps over to join us and his clownish antics (he’s really a frustrated actor at heart) make me forget my self conscious gawkiness. An award winning Mexican director is pulled on to join us. We have our minute or so in the spotlight, and then pretty much get shoved off to one side as more actors and directors arrive and it is their turn.
Surprisingly it is a joyful and fun moment, mostly because I feel part of something bigger - a larger project; a group celebration. And, to top it off, Naomi’s film receives a special mention at the awards. We all celebrate together at the after-party with cava, food, dancing and much laughter.
Fast forward one week and it is the opening of my own ‘mini- retrospective’ exhibition ‘The Heroine’s Journey’ at the Muxart Museum, on the other side of Barcelona.
Naomi Lisner joins me (we are like two happy little canaries - both just happened to choose yellow) and there are speeches by the regional culture minister and the Mayor. I am asked to give my own little speech in Spanish - a major first for me and I even survive with a smile on my face.
The photos of the event are mostly blurry phone images - but I will have professional pics for you later. And I am planning to make a video (another first for me).
Voila, the brief moments under the spotlight are over.
It is lovely to celebrate, but my daily life is more about hard and sometimes tedious work in the studio with a desire to create something authentic and relevant. But most of all life is about relationships - both old ones and new ones. And art is simply a piece of this patchwork.
PS: Brand new studio in Barcelona
Now that life has returned to quasi-normal, I am packing up much of my Montpellier studio to set up a new space in Barcelona. No, we’re not totally moving our lives to Spain (everyone is assuming), but with a much bigger space in Barcelona I will be spending more time there.
PPS: What I’ve been watching this week:
This Neo Rauch documentary was showing on Arte, and is also on Youtube. You see him painting in his studio at Spinner, Leipzig. He talks about art as a weapon in the social struggle, but himself as a non-political artist. One striking aspect is observing the high end art world with various wealthy collectors showing off their ‘purchases’ and ‘explaining’ the works to the camera. For me it’s a somewhat touching but melancholy bravado performance. Neo himself seems uncomfortable being questioned and filmed. I feel for him.
(The volume is not super loud but there are English subtitles. Not sure that the whole film is there, but you get the essence. Part 3 is almost all just watching Neo paint.)
Follow the studio renovations via Instagram stories at aerfeldt_art.
You’ll see all the dirty and dusty details as things progress (or not!)