The Sunny Side of Life F
By MARK COTE
rom the earliest stirrings of ancient, civilized life, mankind’s ongoing fascination with the Sun as the preeminent symbol of life-giving benevolence has manifested itself in ritualized ceremony, deity worship and of course, countless pieces of art, sculpture and architecture from cultures as vast and varied as the Egyptians, the Aztecs and the many indigenous peoples of the world. As civilizations advanced and with it, the birth of new thought in the fields of science and astronomy, the Sun became less an object of idolatry; becoming instead, a tangible concept as a source of global energy upon which our very dependence to sustain life on earth is pivotal. In the tradition of the great 20th Century Modernist painters, Orlando Agudelo-Botero has, with the stroke of his brush, recast the Sun as potent a visual metaphor as possible: the iconic symbol of realized human potential. This theme informs and illuminates the cycle of paintings that comprise his latest body of work entitled “The Sunny Side Of Life.” Orlando offers clear evidence that art has the possibility to uplift the objective conditions of the human experience, as each painting in itself is a compelling argument for choosing a positive outlook despite the fluctuating moods and conditions of our lives. Beginning with Procreatus (Procreation), the birth and the rearing of a child is an experience that the artist has articulated as perhaps one of the most fundamental examples of conscious, deliberate optimism that can be applied to a lifetime’s cycle. With an unerring solidity and radiance, the stately figure of a mother speaks through the dusky palette of warm, gold colors with a spirit of hushed repose and contemplation. Her meditative calm draws us in to contemplate the child emerging from her center; a child who is dazzlingly rendered as the very embodiment of infinity. In his audacity to embrace space and abstraction over solid form with such deft grace, Orlando seems to ask the viewer to seek a deeper radiance beneath the surface of what ordinarily meets the eye.
Sunny Side of Life
“Each painting in itself is a compelling argument for choosing a positive outlook despite the fluctuating moods and conditions of our lives.” An extension of this theme is evident in the disarmingly playful Mapas Imaginarios (Imaginary Maps). The planet Earth is rendered through the eyes of a child with a sense of wonder and innocence that is independent of all parameters of “adult” logic. Colors and shapes freely inhabit the globe with a spontaneity of joyful abandon. In the upper right corner of the Earth’s edge, hope is personified by the faintly transparent figure of an angel assisting the child’s depiction of the world. Perhaps, it is in the act of embracing the innocence long dormant in each one of us, Orlando seems to ponder, that we may finally reclaim the potential for idealism on both a personal and a global level. In The Giving Tree, the concept of
giving as it relates to basic human interaction is addressed with a facile lyricism that has long been a distinguishing characteristic of Orlando’s work. To quote the artist, “ One of the most important gifts that we receive from God-nature is the capacity to feel someone else’s needs or pain. One of the most gratifying aspects of life is to give. Giving, therefore, is without hesitation, a key ingredient of the sunny side of life.” With an exquisite balance of color and an economy of form, Paradise is evoked in which the figures of a father and his daughter hover, joyously in midair; their bodies simplified to a circular arc that arches upwards to meet the benevolent foliage of the title tree. The overall impression conveyed is Fine Art Magazine • Fall 2009 • 49
one of ecstasy, in which both the limitations of gravity and human ego presence versus the surrender of the will to the black void of despair. are absent, freeing both man and nature to merge in an act of selfless It is hope, however, that finally emerges as the victor here, represented giving and receiving. It is a timely message that invites each one of by a sympathetic sun that delicately caresses the profile of a man’s us to consider the possibility of an existence hinged on a reciprocal upturned face. Exemplifying the struggle inherent in each one of us, balance, as it relates to both the ecology of our planet and our most the nearly defeated man sits alone against a tree, seeking solace in a personal selves. forest that is resolutely alive and stirring with movement. Nature, the The enigmatic nature of love is celebrated with a hushed artist seems to say, is a song of rapture and reaffirmation that awaits eloquence in Aspects Of Love. However, as one ventures more deeply each one of us as we take the journey inward, though it may be a dark into the painting, it is apparent that Orlando is interested in far more forest indeed. Emblematic of the inner music that one may hear, in than merely creating a lush paean to romance. Despite the unifying such moments of private intensity, is the solitary violin that hangs whole of the male and female bodies suspended from the branches of the that merge into one form on the trees—a gift waiting to be received. canvas, both figures retain their “The capacity to overcome adversity steadfast individualism: she, with “ says Orlando “is essential to the her gaze focused upwards toward a sunny side of life.” sunburst of infinite possibility and The exuberant Euforia he, immersed in the pages of a book (Euphoria) with it’s palette of entitled The Beautiful Things In muscular yellows and multitude Life. Being in love requires a full of white suns is teeming with an immersion of the self, yet neither of unbridled joy for the very essence of the two figures have been forced to life. The artist captures a moment of compromise their singular identities dizzyingly high exhilaration that is nor their silent, inner lives in order to Giving Tree completely independent of external form a union. Heralding this vision circumstances—the happiness of of harmony, Nature emerges from them victoriously, as the Tree of simply being alive. Life—its leaves bursting upward with verdant splendor. Commenting “This was the first piece on the easel “ says Orlando, describing on the piece, Orlando says, “Aspects of Love is a painting that focuses on the painting The Sunny Side Of Life, “and the genesis of this entire body one highly important element in the relationship between two people; of work. It was at that time that I decided to treat the concept of the silence. The absence of conversation is respected as their individual sunny aspects of life, giving each element the proper space and time. beings come together in eloquent silence.” I felt that together all of these elements would contribute to a life of In striking contrast to the tone of unflagging optimism that quality.” A meditation on individualism, The Sunny Side Of Life resounds underlies all the paintings, Sol de La Media Noche (Midnight Sun) with a steadying calm. Enlightenment in our individual lives, the artist resounds with a palpable tension: the need to sustain belief in a higher seems to whisper, is cultivated from within and then borne outward as a light to be shared collectively with the rest of the world. 50 • Fine Art Magazine • Fall 2009
Sol de la media noche
Describing the ambitious painting Intellectual Curiosity, Orlando has this to say: “The highest source of inspiration in life derives from the pursuit of knowledge of something not previously known. The quest for learning through the ages assures us the course to realization and to wisdom.” A hymn to the continual, personal cultivation of the higher self, Intellectual Curiosity features a face rendered as an abstract, circular motif. To do justice to the theme of knowledge as an evolutionary force, Orlando has deconstructed the formal constraints of the human face, leaving only the merest suggestion of identity. As a species, he seems to say, we are continually reinventing ourselves
through the committed, conscious pursuit of wisdom. The artist has chosen to illustrate this concept by framing the face with actual text of his writings on the ideals of intellectual curiosity; a choice which ultimately personalizes and empowers the painting further. In each of these paintings one senses a deep spiritual yearning for something that transcends the parameters of our visible world. We carry in each one of us, Orlando affirms, the capacity for a sunlight that we can use to illuminate clear, decisive paths for ourselves and then impart that very light back into the world, forwarding a cycle of human life as unending and timeless as time itself. Fine Art Magazine • Fall 2009 • 51
Published on Jan 4, 2010
By MARK COTE “Each painting in itself is a compelling argument for choosing a positive outlook despite the fluctuating moods and conditions...