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Dragons: The Art of Eugenio F. Granell and Rik Lina.

Fundación Eugenio Granell

EXHIBITION: Dragons: The Art of Eugenio F. Granell and Rik Lina
15 June – 15 September
Rooms 2 and 3. Second floor

“Almost every day when starting to work in my studio I quickly draw some ‘Dragons’ … I am into the work at once. I started this a long time ago, and at a certain moment even read that Kandinsky advised his Bauhaus pupils to do this, commenting that the practice came from Chinese masters. I certainly believe this. It is absolutely Zen: not thinking but doing or not doing.” — Rik Lina

“The dark, brownish-grey crystal lizards, with a small lit lamp in their interior, made the parallelograms of wildflowers and herbs vibrate; they change color and position with the last contact of the solar rays.” — Eugenio F. Granell, from his The Novel of the Tupinamba Indian

The splendid art of Eugenio F. Granell and Rik Lina interact in distinctive ways. Set within the broad theme of Dragons, both artistsyet derive their works from similar sources. Their experience of the Caribbean, where Granell lived for some seventeen years and where Lina lived for some seven plus years, is decisive. For Granell, the Caribbean is a potent medium by which to found a new vision of individual, social, and national identity rooted in free, open, reciprocal relationships. For Lina, the Caribbean reveals parallel values heightened by his dedicated exploration of its underwater world. For both artists, this tropical environment — with its oceanic, geological and climatological patterns, its flora and fauna and their lush cycles of growth and decay, its indigenous, colonial and émigré cultures, its mix of languages, and its conflictive history — not only informed their response to it but also infused their sense of color, pictorial space, figuration and abstraction, and the inspired, masterful improvisations found in their art. In their palette, their formations on canvas and paper, and use of mundane objects a vital sense of metamorphosis leads. Here, we enter a marvelous domain. While rooted in the realities they encountered in the Caribbean, as elsewhere, they transform them brilliantly, beautifully, and humorously. But isn’t this the light, breath and life we expect of art?

Two bodies of water separate and link the old and new worlds: the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Are they also not metaphorical serpents or dragons, enmeshing in their twists and turns the histories that helped to mold Granell and Lina, and something of our collective heritage? As Lina has put it, referring to Granell and him: “We both sought to construct a kind of Jacob’s Ladder between the cultures of Old Europe and new Latin America, with feedback originating in Latin America for Europe (immersing in non-Western cultures then, as imbued in our art, returning with them to Europe); reversing traditions of cultural colonialism.” And “Dragon,” of course, as a multidimensional, multivalent, and metaphorical concept, imbued as much in myth as in literature and art, finds its analogs throughout this exhibition. Wonder and artistic mastery are before you. Enjoy …!

Allan Graubard