By Kelly MacConomy
Now on exhibit at the Art Galleries of the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at the Northern Virginia Community College Alexandria Campus is the work of Peruvian artist Joan Belmar. The site-specific installation entitled, “Tangling Shadows”, was inspired by the poem ,“Thinking, Tangling Shadows” #17, from Pablo Neruda’s “Twenty Love Poems and Songs of Despair” and installed July 22-23, 2018. The experiential poetic dialogue of light and shadow will be on exhibit in Alexandria for an entire year.
Joan Belmar is an internationally recognized artist who has shown extensively in New York and Washington, D.C. as well as California and Texas. Most recently he has exhibited at the renowned Addison-Ripley Gallery in Georgetown and the Hillyer Place Art Space at DuPont Circle. Alexandria is exceedingly fortunate to have so prestigious an artist as Joan creating an installation in the City.
Joan Belmar is best known for his ethereal, luminescent three-dimensional work, uniquely combining his skilled painting technique with his inimitable collage artistry. Joan is masterful and magical with paper.
Born in Santiago, Chile in 1970, Joan went to Spain to study art, taking the Catalan spelling of Juan for his first name. Catalonian culture is rich in diverse art forms. Mosaic is a particularly predominant mode of visual expression. Notably the distinctively Catalan passion for painting with flowers is a visible influence in the eloquent use of color and light in all of Joan’s work.
Joan explains his artistic vision as an interplay of time, change and movement:
“Ever since coming to the United States in 1989 I have been interested in exploring the properties of contemporary materials (in lieu of traditional organic mediums of oil, clay, charcoal) such as plastic, paper, acetate, vinyl, fabric and Mylar, etc. I like when the organic qualities of the acrylics, gouache and ink mix and move spontaneously on a fixed structure, canvas, plastic or paper. Metaphorically they are in search of freedom in a structured world.”
Your presence is foreign, as strange to me as a thing. I think, I explore great tracts of my life before you. My life before anyone, my harsh life. The shout facing the sea, among the rocks, running free, mad, in the sea-spray. The sad rage, the shout, the solitude of the sea. Headlong, violent, stretched towards the sky.
There is jubilance in the sublime, quiet solitude of Joan’s work. It feels nostalgic.
A lament. Almost an elegiac ode to the diminishing of the light, yielding to the tangling shadows and the ultimate darkness at its deepest abyss before the dawn.
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Center is located at 4915 East Campus Drive Alexandria, VA 22311 Call for hours: 703-845-6156.