(In search of light)
These are the Miroir Noir’s first open-air sketches ever, done around Bellavista during our spring and summer meetings in 2015 and 2016.
It was a change and a challenge to stop painting portraits for a while, and to try and apply the same collaborative ‘treatment’ to Mother Nature. Landscape painting is more about seizing an ephemeral moment of a particular angle or intensity of the light, or a variation in color; recording and understanding this fragile perception – quite the opposite to the ‘presence’ the figure has when painting portraits. We tried to paint carob or olive trees as portraits, exaggerating all their grandiloquence, drama, and theatrical light filtering.
‘The Holm Oaktree Path’ were small sketches made each morning of our impressions in daybreak light along this magic tunneled path just outside our house. It was such a big change to get so much air, light and wind on our faces during those days spent in what we jokingly call our Mexican paradise.
It was really exciting getting outside at sunrise: the walk, loaded, smelling the prey like hunters, finding, sketching and photographing the Holm Oak Path or around any of the majestic carob or olive tres in the first lights of the day.
Difficult to explain.The last step in the landscape and tree-portrait series took place last February under very different light conditions in our studio in Bratislava. We had with us some unfinished summer paintings and we did our best to recall the drama and southern lights of Catalonia from snowy Slovakia.
The drama was served cold.
We found ourselves finishing the most romantic and dark approximation to the mythical clear air and strong light of the Mediterranean. All in all, a delightful collection.

Nocturne tells us about hidden things, just as it tells about lights in natural settings. About the quiet Spanish village to which Miroir Noir (he) withdrew from the noise, opacity and speed of civilisation, so as to renew his natural perceptiveness towards quietened-down things and situations: the motifs of olive trees growing there for centuries, their eccentric forms suited to enabling survival in climatically arduous natural conditions. These are pictures which refer to two levels of painting, as I read them: they seek to retrieve the atmosphere that comes from the relationship between the creative artist and his life setting, and they also seek symbolic expression of the artists’ awareness of how transient is the time that bounds human existence. This is projected, as it were, into deformation of the vegetation; likewise, in Miroir Noir’s previous work there was deformation of faces and of human and animal figures. Just as Jorge Luis Borges met with Bioy Casares in that story of his, and when quite by accident they came upon a mirror, in conversation they realised that “there’s something monstrous about the mirror” and through this shared experience they went on to discover a fictional land named Uqbar: so also two European painters, encountering each other, went on together to discover and retrieve a frontier of the image, a horizon, which is not formatted purely by one consciousness and one subconscious and does not lay down one single valid truth, but rather from its inception branches into a more complex supra-individual formation, opening up an abundance of new questions for painting.

Petr Vañous, critic.

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