ANNABELLE CADIZ: TRANQUILITY, RIPPLES, AND THE DIVINE
“We are surrounded with things which we have not made and which have a life and structure different from our own: trees, flowers, grasses, rivers, hills, clouds. For centuries they have inspired us with curiosity and awe. They have been objects of delight. And we have come to think of them as contributing to an idea which we have called nature. Its rise and development is part of a cycle in which the human spirit attempted once more to create harmony with its environment.”
Those were the opening words of Lord Kenneth Clark in his series of lectures on the subject of “Landscape into Art.” Words it would do us well to remember as we join an artist on her “travelling” exhibition.
Currently on view at the Galerie Anna is a solo exhibition of Dra. Annabelle Cadiz titled “Tranquility, Ripples, and the Divine.” (Those who have seen Cadiz’s show previous to this one, exhibited a couple of years ago, are “in” for a surprise, for these landscape works are at a far remove. Her last show was of a different landscape; “nightscape” may be a more appropriate descriptive word. In those works, Cadiz depicted images of those who work in the night, and through, and that subtle hint should modestly suffice even to those who are more worldly-conscious.)
This time, Cadiz has found inspiration in her many travels all over Europe, America, and Asia. Indeed, the exhibition will unreel like a personal visual odyssey, elevating the sights beyond the merely touristy. The works are imbued with a quiet atmosphere and serenity, as if in fact, the artist were all alone when she visited the sites. And though, of course, hordes of tourists were busily snapping away with their cameras and iphones, Cadiz, the introspective soul, “owned” the views, for she sensitively observed, and absorbed, the spiritual energy of the place, and placed her retentive memory at her disposable. While photographed images have their own practical value (excellent for jogging memory!), nothing can replace the sensations one felt at a particular place, or triggered by a specific view, nor the intense emotion that swept her, provoked by the grandeur and magnificence of the vistas that emerged before her.
At the outset, it should be said that these works have a gentility and mistiness of watercolors, though some are in fact in oils. (It was Cezanne, the forerunner of modern art from whom Picasso saw the origins of Cubism, who treated oils as though the medium were watercolors, as witness his late still lifes.) With her light, felicitous touch, Cadiz creates sensations that are both feminine, lyrical and romantic, for which reason one can call her works “Wordsworthian”, after the poet who wrote a line of poetry which every college student can still remember: I wandered lonely as a cloud…
And so did Cadiz wander all over the world, filling her heart and mind like a diary, with each page overwhelmed by a welling of emotions. There are views that are grand and lowly: cathedrals, manor houses, and castles are awe-inspiring, the stuff of travel brochures, such classic edifices as the Notre Dame in Paris and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. There are tableaus of mountains and meadows, beaches and streams and rivers, blossoms and vegetation. Each can be relished quietly in the spirit of tranquility and contemplation, our eyes and hearts lifted to the Divine Creator Who has brought all these into existence.
Yet again, we are awakened to the realization that certain joyous scenes can be gleaned by turns from the ordinary and the overlooked, the simple and the sophisticated, the homey and the humble. As Lord Kenneth Clark right observed: “In general the popular landscapes are those in which the lazy or uninterested eye is suddenly jerked into responsiveness by an unusually resonant contrast of tone or color. This is true of the stretch of water lit by evening skies, set off by dark trees; or of the evening sun shedding an orange light on the hill-tops.” For myself, I am drawn towards the fresh appeal of often ignored sights, such as Cadiz’s “The Lady in Yellow”, where an unrecognized solitary woman is seated among white-topped tables, just like a scene at Tuileries in Paris. Another is “The Traveller” which will not really pass muster as a view, but a rather as a vignette, of a place observed and of time unrecoverable. It is merely the sight of a motorcycle parked along a wall. In both, one feels an underlying narrative, certainly unvoiced, but nevertheless brushes against your imagination. Still another is “Same Time, Same Place”, unequivocally a transcription of an assignation. While all these do not belong in the traditionally accepted notions of landscapes (but why can’t a park not be a landscape?), we have to accept them as the products of the artist’s impartial eye. Even a work titled “The Spirit House”, such as one often sees along the streets of an Asian city, is a moving sight. A humble, makeshift contraption of a small house, laden with flowers left by devotees, awaits the arrival of the Divine.
For all these, we have to thank the artist Annabelle Cadiz for inviting us along on her journey of discovery.