“My paintings are uncomplicated. The world is already complicated enough”.
Arte Algarve came into being precisely because of people like Stuart Robson. Gallery founder Rolf Osang was aware of how much talent we have here, either resident or passing through, and he saw the need for a gallery that could actively promote art in the Algarve. Right from the start his feeling was “we won’t have to do much in the way of advertising. Wait and see: artists will just come… “.
“His paintings are the kind that give me goosebumps” recalls Rolf. “They are just absolutely wonderful”…
And so today’s story introduces a new artist who “walked through the door” with magical paintings. An artist who will be exhibiting in the Algarve for the first time at our upcoming Open VIII on June 15th.
In many ways, Stuart Robson’s life sounds as touched by magic as his paintings. Many sunshine-successful years co-running an advertising, design, PR and media buying group with impressive portfolios saw him selling out handsomely “six months before the recession” and having the wherewithal to pursue a whole new existence as an artist.
“I am a painter now,” he says simply – not even wanting to elaborate on his former life. “It is much more fun (sometimes), less rewarding financially but a lot more fulfilling – and I don’t have to worry about ‘what the clients will think’.
“Oh how I longed for this day!”
Influences range from Turner to Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Willem De Kooning, Howard Hodgkin and the Glasgow School (“in particular Joan Eardley and John Houston”) and his inspiration very often centres on the sea.
“For 40 years I have lived by the sea, either the windswept beaches of Northumberland or the sunny sands of the Algarve”, Stuart explains. “The ever-changing nature of the sea will always fascinate. No matter what your imagination can create, the reality, power and drama of the sea will still surprise, excite and inspire.
“My work is always based on an impression, memory or the ‘sense’ of a place rather than the specific view or location. Whether it is an imaginary seascape, landscape or cityscape it always pleases me when people say that they can recognise or identify the view, or even that they have actually been there”.
A lot of artists can find it disparaging to hear their paintings “described as pretty, or happy” he adds, but Stuart is not one of them.
“If I can create something that is pleasing and enjoyable and has a ‘feel-good’ factor, then I consider that as a job well done”.
Travelling these days between homes in Northumberland and the Algarve, he also finds inspiration in the clarity of light in southern Europe, revelling in ” the spring landscapes of wild flowers, orange groves and almond blossoms” in both the Alentejo and Umbria, in Italy.
Stuart already has paintings in private collections in the UK, France, Spain, Majorca and the Netherlands.
After next month’s exhibition we’re quite sure he will be updating that list to include Portugal and beyond./Written by Natasha Donn
Street artists and musicians are a huge part of the summertime charm of the Algarve. Every town has its share of mime artists, caricaturists, jugglers and singers – but there is only one Lothar Vroegan.
Lothar arrived a few years ago, with his barrel-organ and stuffed monkey, and has been delighting crowds up and down the region ever since.
You find him at weekends, either in Olhão (between the markets on the seafront), Loulé, or playing the flea markets of Ferragudo and Lagoa. He’s thinking of starting also in Portimão.
In the frenzy of modern life, though, what is it that impels a man to put on a funny outfit (he takes infectious delight in his selection of hats) and turn the crank of a mechanical music box? It is certainly not the stuff of making fortunes, particularly as Lothar doesn’t even charge for his performances. “People can give if they want to”, he tells us.
“This is nothing about making money”, he agrees with a carefree smile. “I do it because I love it! I just love the sounds of these little organs. I have two. One which I play when I am in the street, and a smaller one that I play at parties, or inside.
“I fell in love with them when I was a child in Germany. I always dreamed of having one of my own”.
The dream eventually became a reality. Lothar has around 650 different melodies that he can play on his instruments, handmade in Germany by “Raffin”, the Mercedes of barrel-organ construction.
Sadly, there are no Portuguese songs available on the general barrel-organ market. Lothar has to order them especially – which is very expensive.
His first Portuguese melody was ready only recently, and he played it last weekend. What was it?
“Grandola Vila Morena!” He beams. He was delighted by the reaction. “It was absolutely brilliant! Everyone started singing. The Portuguese people who heard me loved it!”
Love of music, love of life – these are Lothar’s magic ingredients for contentment in the Algarve. When he is not playing his organ, or tending his garden, he is leaping onto his much-loved Harley Davidson and taking part in various bikers’ club get-togethers.
Still fairly hesitant when it comes to the Portuguese language, he has succeeded with charm and the universal bond of music. “I play at nearly all the bikers’ lunches and celebrations now”, he smiles. “Everyone likes it so much. The bikers, their families, the children… In fact, I have to come home after all our rides, leave my bike and drive in the car to the meals we organise, just so that I can take the organ with me!”
Lothar is available for private functions (birthdays/ weddings, etc.) and can be contacted on email@example.com
Written by Natasha Donn
Instead of going to the beach, why not head for Quinta de Oxalá in Estômbar and enjoy “interesting art, questionable company and light al-fresco nibbles and drinks”, not to mention cool breezes coming off an idyllic lake?
The plan is to show art in the making, under the olive trees – an afternoon of sharing, with aspiring artists and interested art lovers.
Your hosts will be:
-Caroline Wood, who lives in the Algarve and has participated in many exhibitions working in oils and watercolours
-Kate Evans, who paints in oils but is currently using watercolor or colored pencils to create beautiful botanical illustrations of Algarve wildflowers
-Cliff Martin, who describes his painting as a mixture between Jackson Pollock and Rembrandt – “I’m just not as famous “… until he paints his masterpiece, that is!
-Gaelle Hamp-Adams, originally from Africa and who loves to paint wildlife and animals, and experimenting with various mediums.
-BJ Boulter who has made the leap from her profession as film production designer to artist, sketching and painting – exploring watercolour and acrylics
-Kerstin Wagner, renowned as an abstract painter in acrylic and pure pigments; watch out for our interview upcoming with her next week!
-Bonnie Appleyard, enthused by abstract art: the mixture of colours, shapes and textures gives wings to her imagination, and
-David Trubshaw, who loves painting abstract trees and skyscapes in acrylics and is currently investigating painting without brushes…
One of the best-selling artists from our last exhibition, Claude Müller – a mistress of improvisation – rose to the challenge to conduct a “fun workshop”, holding on to her sense of humour with the skill of a trapeze artist.
Art teacher Marta Dyer-Smith deserves an endurance medal for her work, as indeed do all teachers of secondary school children the world over.
It is possibly the most trying age bracket, 13-16, and thus we consider ourselves lucky that the gallery has remained standing – particularly as one of the attending teens has something of a history for starting fires.
So what of the talent? Well, happily there was some. A diffident young man in a hat showed a skill beyond his years. “Please, no!” he winced in mock horror when an observer remarked that he was an artist.
It turns out that it is his mother who is the artist. But more of that in another post. The young man in the hat meantime insists that he wants to be a computer programmer…
For now, we leave you with some of the images of a morning where for a few hours the younger generation got to be our “artists of the day”.
Written by Natasha Donn
Believing in the Algarve!
You either love it or hate it, but Saturday sees another Eurovision Song Contest – and this year a very special lady who loves the Algarve is singing for her country, at the age of 61!
The UK’s Bonnie Tyler and her bid for Eurovision stardom is the subject of this week’s blog by Len Port, on algarvenewswatch.blogspot.pt.
Ms Tyler was also the special guest at KissFM radio station recently, talking about how much she enjoys life in the Algarve, and how she hopes the people of Portugal will vote for her.
One of our readers, and well-known figure in the west Algarve, Val Window (the other half of Kiss FM’s Sir Owen Gee), recently won a painting she is delighted with in a charity raffle.
As you can see from the photos attached, the signature is open to interpretation.
“Sometimes I think it says Barbara Flanagan”, Val tells us. “Other times I am not so sure”.
Queries via facebook have no far led nowhere.
Anyone who recognises the painting, should contact Val through Arte Algarve’s website.
Meantime, the lady who used to run a business grooming cats and dogs, and has a penchant for fast motorbikes, is now considering standing for her local parish council for the wonderfully green and “let’s-do-away-with corruption” Earth Party (MPT-Partido da Terra).
Anyone who holds a voting card and lives in Praia da Luz, should put their cross next to Val’s name in the upcoming municipal elections in October. We’re told that if she polls just 500 votes, the seat is her’s …
But back to our “whodunnit”, the first person who can accurately identify the artist responsible for Val’s mystery painting will win a free bottle of delicious “Porches Primeur” wine… to be claimed in person from the gallery.
Written by ND
Every Saturday from June 15th to August 17th we will be organizing an “Open Air Art Festival” along the picturesque port of Ferragudo. Starting at 6pm and lasting till midnight, the quayside from the Old Bridge to the Mercado Municipal belongs to the artists. Traffic will be blocked on those evenings.
Ferragudo is already famous for its Saturday nights. A well-known band performs in the adjacent central square, and thousands of people regularly come to enjoy the atmosphere – to dance and party. It’s a unique summertime attraction in the Algarve.
Entre os dias 15 de Junho e 17 de Agosto, todos os sábados organizaremos uma “festival de arte ao ar livre” ao longo do cais da aldeia pitoresca de Ferragudo. O cais, entre a ponte antiga e o Mercado Municipal, estará fechado ao trânsito. Entre as 18 horas e meia-noite o cais pertence aos artistas.
Ferragudo, que já popular pelas suas noites de Sábado, receberá bandas reconhecidas na praça central que alegram milhares de visitantes e convidam com música ao vivo para dançar e viver umas noites de verão divertidas. De certeza será uma atracção única durante o verão no Algarve.
An allen Samstagen, vom 15. Juni bis 17. August veranstalten wir in Ferragudo eine „Open Air Festival der Kunst am Kai“. Von 18 Uhr bis Mitternacht gehört der Kai zwischen der Alten Brücke und dem Mercado Municipal den Künstlern. Der Autoverkehr wird an diesen Abenden gesperrt.
Parallel dazu tritt auf dem benachbarten zentralen Platz eine bekannte Band auf, dafür ist Ferragudo ja berühmt geworden. Tausende von Menschen strömen herbei, viele tanzen, es herrscht eine tolle Stimmung – einzigartig in der ganzen Algarve.
Feasts for the Eyes
Art and food – it is a combination one increasingly finds when dining out these days, designed to benefit everyone: restaurants have something fun (and free) to put on their walls, artists have the chance to show their work to a captive audience, and diners are able to feast the eyes, as well their stomachs.
But in Praia da Luz this season, the Mirage Bar & Restaurant is showing some rather unusual works of art. From a painter well-known in contemporary art circles, a lot of these paintings are highly political. Bernd Schwarzer’s work deals with the issues of Europe, reunification of East and West,Weimar and human rights.
When you see his pictures these underlying messages are not immediately clear, but the colours of the German flag are predominant, as well as the telltale blue circle, which we discovered later is Schwarzer’s symbol for a united Europe. Early influences include Vincent Van Gogh, and this can be seen very clearly in one of the smaller paintings at the back of the pretty pastel-decorated dining room.
The rest, well, it’s anyone’s guess – and there are more to come as the season continues.
“I am still getting used to them myself”, Mirage owner David Jones tells us. For a close-up look at these unusual artworks, enjoy a trip to the Mirage. It is “celebrating 25 years of good food and fun” this summer and has a delicious menu, free wi-fi and an excellent
choice of Portuguese wines.
Mirage Bar & Restaurant: 282 788524/ 912771713. Portuguese, English and German spoken.