In the hustle and bustle of Park Avenue, one of the most emblematic avenues in New York, the Spanish painter Lluís Lleó has installed five huge blocks of sandstone from the Catalan region of the Empordá, painted according to a tradition with more than seven centuries of history: The Romanesque.
The outdoor installation, which will be shown until July 31 under the title “Morpho’s Nest in The Cadmium House,” is the culmination of a journey by a painter who came to New York 28 years ago with a suitcase at the Adventure, “said the artist to Efe after its inauguration.
On the central boulevard of the avenue, from 52nd to 56th street, you can see the pieces that Lleó has painted in deep blue and red cadmium, and which he defines as “hiding places, shelters to hide the soul and feel safe.”
The chromatic choice also reflects the essence of what Spain and the United States mean to him, nations among which the painter moves. Blue, “more reflective”, associates with his life in New York; And the red “of the blood, passion, of the elf” attributes it to what “only exists in Spain,” he explains.
The location of the works is not casual. The first piece is strategically located in front of the Seagram building, work of 1958 of the German architect Mies van der Rohe, by which Lleó recognizes to feel true fascination.
The painter wanted to establish “an imaginary dialogue” between his work and that of the German, just as the pavilion raised by Van der Rohe in Barcelona on the occasion of the International Exhibition of 1929 is a neighbor – on the mountain of Montjuic – of the Museum National Art of Catalonia (MNAC), which houses an outstanding collection of Catalan Romanesque frescoes.
For Lluís Lleó, based in New York since 1989, exhibiting on Park Avenue is a dream come true. “You have to feel lucky because it is not normal for things to go well,” said the painter.
Lleó said he felt a special attraction for New York: “This city has allowed me to learn to be a serious painter, I have learned to play in a superior division, because this city, or you play in a superior division, or you do not play.”
On the other hand, he referred to Spain as “a country that has given the best artists in history, what happens is that it has been responsible for crushing them well.” And “unfortunately in our country many times you have the feeling that things can not happen, that is impossible,” he added.
Nevertheless, the work of Lluís Lleó maintains close ties with the tradition of the Catalan Romanesque fresco, whose pictorial technique uses in his works. Lleó descends from a family of painters of which, he says, inherited his knowledge and inspiration.
The painter said that he tries to flee from the desire to invent “megacontemporáneas” things because he says: “The only leap into the future for me was taking a run from behind.”
Lleó highlighted the role of the collector Emilio Ferrer in the development of the project. And he confessed that the idea of exposing the pieces in the open air also sought to strip the artist of the “business” varnish, because Lleó conceived the artist as an adventurer.
“If there is no adventure, there is no art,” he said.
Since 2000, the association “The Fund for Park Avenue” has organized exhibitions, which have included artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Manolo Valdés or Santiago Calatrava, which are now added Lluís Lleó and its Romance reminiscence.