Mr. Incommunicado calling…

We all get computer glitches from time to time. In my case, the whole thing went a little…broken.

The result is I can no longer access my mailing list to send you A4artist drawings and so can I ask you to contact me through the contact form with your email if you would still like to receive my drawings, which I will send as a file (fortnightly instead of weekly) as before?

Now to get back to drawing…

 

Many Thanks in advance,

Dom.

Art: The Spanish Tradition. Part I.

  Cave-painting of a deer, Spain.



Spain occupies a central role in the development of art that belies its geographical situation at the edge of  the world that was known until 1492. Its importance was in no way marginalised after the ‘plus ultra’ of the Americas had been reached.  

An extraordinary  capacity for an earthy sense of observation was already evident by the time the cave paintings of Altamira had been made tens of thousands of years ago. 

  Native iron oxides found in Spain.



Artists millennia later, such as Tapies, still conduct a dialogue in paint with this great heritage, as did such Spanish forerunners of modernism as Pablo Picasso, once he had liberated himself from classical modes of  representation.

 Antoni Tapies.


What is it within Spain that permits, leads, or encourages art? Is it perhaps the extraordinary density of caves, in a country where thousands of people live as troglodytes to this day? That’s a lot of ancient wall space. 

  

Is it the incredible mineral diversity, that provides the bulk of the pigments found in any palette before 1830. Cinnabar mines from the time of the Ancient Greek settlers could provide vermillion, the colour that the great Medieval painter Bermejo was synonymous with.

  Altarpiece by Bermejo.



Perhaps the latitude, the light that gives such relief to vegetable and mineral forms under the sun etched the strongest shadows in the mind: the real vehicle for depiction. 

The interplay of ancient cultures must be of primary significance: Greeks, Phoenicians, Celts, Iberians, Romans, Tartessians, Basques, Berbers, Arabs, Slavs, Visigoths, Genoese and settlers arrived in or emerged from the land of Spain. The first named people here brought the Classical to Hispania. Tarshish- a proto-Goidelic speaking society was mentioned in Isaiah as a trading nation with the Mediterranian. It is beyond doubt that cinnabar was used on polychrome sculpture at Athens at the time of Plato- it came from Spain.

An early form of globalisation meant that Iberians painted Greek kraters and urns from this time.

 

 Vase in the Greek style from Iberia.

The Romans followed the great trade nation of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, who, successively had built the oldest cities in Europe, such as Cadiz, dominating the tin trade and opening up the mining of ores, pigments, silver and gold. It was this memory of a homegrown El Dorado that would provide the impetus later, for the exploitation of the Americas, but this time it was for the native Celto-Iberians to be exploited in the Romans’ incessant search for gold, after a struggle of nigh on two hundred years. More remains than in Italy itself, from  the period, testify to the permanence the Roman influence was to have.

  Roman mosaic from Mèrida.



The Visigoths had, in short order, migrated across Northern Europe, founded Toulouse then Toledo as their capitals, upgraded from beer-drinking to wine, abandoned paganism first in favour of a transitional Arianism thence to Catholicism. The feudal culture also brought the most beautiful reinterpretations of the Roman, as if seen with childlike eyes or a distorting mirror. Pilgrimage contended with settling down as the cultural pendulum swung. 

  Visigothic stone carvings. 

The arrival of two generals, one Arab and the other half-Berber, Ibn Musa and Tariq, at the head of large armies who went largely unopposed such was the unpopularity of the decayed Visigothic regime by 712 AD, marked the 800 year influence of Islamic art in Spain.

Again the cultural pendulum swung, but this time between the poles of a preserved gulf Arab paganistic richesse, of dense yet graceful animal and vegetable forms and an architectural form of decorative brickwork and the newly developed fine calligraphy of Kufic script that could almost pictorially act out a sura from the Koran, elongated on the wall of a palace or mosque. These two artistic tendencies reflected a tension between the civilised yet decadent Caliphs and petty kings and their internal and external enemies, fundamentalists such as the Almohads and Almurabits. Under the former, all religions lived almost equally with a social-economic order that one economist has called “finest in history”. 

Reflecting the extraordinary social mobility of that society, Ibn Badr, a Slavic ex-slave and bodyguard of the Umayyad Caliph was yet able to not only rise to the position of prime minister, but also design the Mezquita of Cordova,  the finest building of Islamic Spain.

  The Mezquita of Cordova.

Calligraphy and ceramics, tile-making and architecture were the chief areas of interest- the relatively small amount of depiction of living forms owes itself to Koranic prohibitions, yet Al-Mutadid, the poet-King of Seville would drink wine.

The long shadow seen: forty thousand years of drawing tools

The first time Mankind stained their hand and found, wiping it on the cave wall, that their imagination could leap with this new drawn image  in imitation of the animals they thought they saw cast there by their own shadows from the fire- it was the beginning of something that would distinguish us from all other living creatures: Continue reading The long shadow seen: forty thousand years of drawing tools

Drawing: why?

War has propelled the art of drawing into unlikely uses, as has medicine, architecture, archaeology, film-making, forensic science, and even communication with uncontacted tribes in the Amazon. Being the first ever non-verbal communication, with a forty to fifty thousand year history with us all, drawing is so fundamental to what we are as a species, known for its dominion over, and from within the environment we inhabit,  it is perhaps surprisingly easy to gloss over the fact that drawing involves the essential materials of what we come from. Drawing is us. Continue reading Drawing: why?

The ‘A4artist’ gives you an A4 drawing once a week. Free for your collection.

Each week Dom Ramos offers you his latest drawing

No.1
‘Number One-The Court House, Lewes’ © Dom Ramos.

 

from contemporary British life, from nature, landscape or people, as an A4 attachment (it’s a downloadable pdf and its free! ) for you to print and keep. It will keep you abreast of the work of this artist and the world he shares with you.

'The fiddlers; Ben Paley.' Drawings. ©Dom Ramos
‘The fiddlers; Ben Paley.’ Drawings. ©Dom Ramos

All you have to do is contact him below and start to enjoy his vision of the world. He will be depicting musicians, nature, landscapes, studies of people and objects: all that fascinates will be brought to life. So leave your email below and start a free collection.

Dom Ramos & his art