Monday, 31 March 2014

The Alphabet of Wonder

“The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web”, stated the celebrated painter Pablo Picasso about the source of inspiration for his artworks. Curiously enough, these words seem to fit like a glove the awesome art pieces produced by another Pablo: Pablo Lehmann.

Born and based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Pablo Lehmann uses words and paper to produce masterpieces of art that feed our minds, seize our senses and arrest our emotions. Unlike other artists using the same medium – paper –, Lehmann has adopted an approach in which he works layered paper and synthetic cloth to create massive letter-based installations which vary from cut-outs to huge wall-hangings of extreme beauty and astounding originality.

Lehmann’s creations impress viewers for their space, texture and shape, but also for the fact that their recurrent theme is words and language. In fact, Pablo Lehmann’s favourite subject – language – has not dawn on him unintentionally. At a time when texting and coded emails are having a strong effect on the way we write, he is preserving and documenting the letters of the alphabet, thus reminding us of earlier times and how we learnt to read by means of a method that strongly involved our emotions and feelings.

For literature and reading lovers, it may sound almost sinful to destroy books – treasured repositories of feelings, thoughts, emotions, facts that provide us all with the means to expand our knowledge – so as to produce these art works. However, and not to mention the deeper complexities of his work, Pablo Lehmann’s intention is, in fact, to draw attention to the importance of books in our culture.

Lehmann’s art works, in their intricacy and delicate detail, invite viewers to spend time searching for the letters and words somehow “hidden” in his huge pieces, ranging from wall- hangings to 3D works such as clocks, mirrors and even complete pieces of furniture, featuring raw surfaces covered with torn texts from old books. Viewers are somehow induced to enter the game of guessing, very much in the way they would if they were trying to build a jigsaw puzzle or solve a crossword problem.

Lehmann further challenges the traditional and even the most innovative ways of creating art works with paper by making its medium behave in odd and completely unexpected fashions. One of the most surprising effects he achieves is making his pieces look almost like fabric. They offer themselves to viewers under the aspect of a net, something quite difficult to accomplish with paper. However, Pablo Lehmann always tries to go further and further in his quest for innovation, beauty and originality and some of his creations feature paper looking almost like wire gauge or even clay – a feat not easy to achieve with this kind of medium.

Ultimately, through his talent and passion, Pablo Lehmann may well be said to insufflate into his stunning creations the essence of what William Wordsworth (1770-1850) meant with his statement that one should “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”.

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