Thursday, November 25, 2010

John Barrett's "Lorca: A Dream of Life" exhibition forced us to remember

Illustrator/artist John Barrett at his 2009 opening in Canillas de Albaida of "Lorca: A Dream of Life."
Illustrator, painter and senior lecturer, John Barrett, beams proudly at his inaugural Spanish exhibition of "Lorca: A Dream of Life" which he opened in Canillas de Albaida in August 2009, visually interpreting Federico Garcia Lorca's poems written between 1919 and 1929.

Barrett's Dream of Life show includes about 150 images, various media. He has yet to launch his "Lorca: Poet in New York" exhibition, which includes about the same number of works but covers 1929-1936. HIs Lorca Project, initially his master degree visual thesis, evolved into a 15-year visual sojourn, and continues.

Primarily an illustrator, John, senior full-time lecturer of visual communications at Birmingham City University for 10 years, says he sought to "illuminate the meaning of Lorca's words; illustrators try to depict and extract the essential meaning in words just as film directors will make a written script into a sequential, visual moving image."

The lore of Spain, the people and its horrific Civil War (1936 - 39) brought John into Lorca's often dark world of words. John not only studied Lorca's poems, but like an archivist and true academic, sought historical meaning in iconic words and symbols, like the snake, the dove.

He says some of Lorca's poems are very dense, "a little like a Zen kind of poetry and they are also very short so you have to read in between the lines." Then there are hours of concept drawings in ink and colour, filling scores of thick sketch books. Once he's got the concept, constructing the final image comes quickly.

After John opened his Dream of Life in Canillas de Albaida, where he and wife Jen have owned an old Moorish townhouse in the village for many years, he opened in nearby Competa at the Salon de Actos, putting up as many as 120 images. He brought in a flamenco dancer, who interpreted Lorca's poems to music at the opening, attended by hundreds of Spanish (mainly women) and expats living in the greater Competa-Canillas area in the mountains above Torre del Mar,.

Spain remains, however, a country largely seeking to bury the Spanish Civil War and leave the dead rest in mass graves. Every side or faction in that war was guilty of atrocities.

Despite this, his Dream of Life shows brought in scores of people. "I think it's difficult after Franco for the Spanish to revisit those times," John says.

The Six Strings (by Lorca)

The guitar
causes dreams to weep
The sobs of lost
escape through its round

There's more to come on John Barrett and Lorca. Lorca was among 14 poets killed in the Spanish Civil War.

Rock on and practice peace.Also see ArtTraveler's videos:

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

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