An artist s eyes turn toward the fire . world on fire . people on fire . a dust storm ten thousand meters high alternates with a clear sky; earth in the airless purity of space, crashing between catastrophe and silence. Signs and words in secret code appear out of nowhere, as an indecipherable, yet eternal language.
Memory, space cut through the lines; hidden lines which explode into intensities. Zero points and asperities, fanning out and scattering like fireworks. This artist s universe is made of unimagined constellations, magical connections, dangerous and momentous, but with endless possibilities. In the midst of the green fields, facing the lazy blue waters and the smooth golden dunes of Lake Qarun in Fayoum stands Xavier Puigmarti s studio; a whitewashed, sunlit, spacious room. A world he inhabits half the year, every year, as he tries to bring back to life these infinite possibilities, colors, bloodlines. Protecting his seclusion, Puigmarti refuses to reveal his exact location in a phone interview with The Daily Star Egypt. I don t want many people to come here, I don t want this place to be crowded, he said in Arabic. He said the paintings celebrate the shifting lights and winds and sometimes even perspectives on Lake Qarun. Colors change every minute, they shift with the wind, he said describing the kaleidoscope of colors surrounding the lake which inspired most of the paintings. Some paintings look at the lake from the ground, others from space, following the many phases of the sun and the moon, clouds and even; a ten thousand meter high sandstorm. There is even a subtle hint to the artists relationship with technology – despite his need for seclusion – as he said that a personal computer was among the items he took with him to his studio by the lake. Codes written in a secret language appear on what looks like keys of a computer keyboard can be seen in some of the paintings, challenging the beholder for a meaning. Maybe they are just a joke, I am trying to say that while computerized art is becoming mainstream, oil on canvas could be even more realistic, he said humorously. These innocent spots look out from the world; as perennial as the earth, the sea, and the infinite horizon. As resolute as a world that continues in its turning as perpetual as nature, which persists in its course. The paintings also evoke a feeling of universality, and oneness with nature through the eyes of a Spanish artist in love with the lake at the center of Egypt s Islamic and cultural heritage by the virtue of its mention in the Quran as a miracle and a reminder of God s punishment of Qarun.
According to the Muslim Holy Book, Qarun, who lived during the time of Ramses II the king of Egypt, was so immensely rich that it took a group of men to be able to carry the keys to his huge safes, filled with gold and precious stones.
Qarun, however, haughtily refused to be grateful to God for his riches and was, therefore, punished by a colossal earthquake that buried him and his wealth under the lake, giving rise to the belief that a massive treasure lies at the bottom of the lake under its serene waters.
Xavier said he was aware of the Qarun s story, but added that he was more interested in the beauty of the lake which he has been living near to for the past 15 years. The predominant colors are dark blue, and black. Some of the oil on canvas paintings fetched as much as LE 3,000.
The artist s last gallery was held at the American University in Cairo two years ago where he exhibited paintings depicting the plight of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation. Xavier Puigmarti s Landscapes is held in cooperation with the Embassy of Spain s cultural awareness program. His paintings are currently on display in the Mashrabia Gallery of Contemporary Art, 8 Champollion Street and will continue to be on display until May 10.