WINTER ART

With the winter around the corner, we make a brief review of how the artists got inspired by this season for their works. These dates are usually associated inevitably with the end of the year and the abundant parties, but the beginning of winter has traditionally been a time celebrated by many cultures as it gives way to a period of growth of days and a stage of preparation for the upcoming cycle. Even Greek mythology has a story for this phenomenon. Demeter, goddess of life and earth, separated from her daughter Persephone, who had been abducted by Hades and condemned to remain in the underworld, agreed to spend half of the year in her company and the other half on Olympus. Demeter was sad in the months when she was not with Persephone, which correspond to autumn and winter, leaving the earth neglected and withered, as opposed to spring and summer, time spent with her daughter.

Camille Pissarro, “Avenue de l’Opera. Efecto Nieve 1”

From the classicism, winter was approached with naturalistic perspective. This approach goes through the different artistic branches and has also served to feed the nineteenth-century narrative that represents this season in a raw way to underline the social differences that many characters of the literature of the time should pass through. As for the visual arts, authors opted for more realistic expressions, an exercise that often served as pictorial analysis on the depiction of the natural state, the changes of light, the reproduction of textures, volumes... in scenes dominated by snow in the rural environment.

Stepan Kolesnikoff, “On the way to market”, 1942

The winter, present with its hardest, implacable and almighty face, composes a mental image fueled to a great extent by the literature of the late nineteenth century as well as by the recurrent representation of realistic painting that began to pay less attention to elitist themes. The flight of pictorial productions of religious content or portraits by order gave way to a real concern for society, for the situation of the individual in their daily lives and the expression of an authentic and not always docile life that required, among other things, facing the winter in unfavourable circumstances. In this naturalistic trend, one sees the will to change the focus of attention of the aristocracy to the ordinary people, and to elaborate an egalitarian discourse that does not highlight the powerful over the weak but treats all individuals equally.

Jason Paul freerunning in Harbin, China © David Robinson

Our perception of this season has changed in recent decades. The linking of these dates with the grand celebrations make up an inseparable whole in which consumerism has absorbed the beginning of the season and almost goes unnoticed. The current representation of winter connects with snowy prints, red lights and smiles on the face. There is, in all this, a search for the ideal beauty, a compositional artifice that floods all our behaviours in society and reaches, even in a false way, the very strength of nature. Today the winter, after having surpassed in the arts the traditional pictorialism, is represented mainly through photography, a discipline that dares to recreate nature in a more wild and challenging. In fact, documentary photography is a very exploited line in our days, and the result is images of high visual impact.

 

Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.