MENINAS MADRID GALLERY, SPAIN
Las Meninas, or Ladies-in-waiting, painted by Diego Velazquez in 1656, is a piece of Spanish art history that questions both reality and illusion. Today, it’s celebrated through the Meninas Madrid Gallery which brings 50 sculpted and painted Meninas to the streets of the city every autumn. The project is curated by artist Antonio Azzato and supported by the Madrid City Council.
For our 65th anniversary year, we sponsored and created our very own Liquitex Menina for the installation. Local artist Maria Cabanas was selected for the commission and given the brief to represent our 65-year legacy. The result is Infanta Tatuada, an artwork inspired by Margarita Teresa of Spain, the young royal from Velazquez’s Las Meninas. Maria tells us “After reading a lot about the Infant Margarita, I chose to work with a swan motif due to its royal associations and elegance. I played with the concepts of painting and body art and wanted it to appear as if she had commissioned me to tattoo her skin. Words, tattoos and art have always gone together so I also added some signature roses and the iconic quote from Liquitex founder Henry Levison, “I’m only happy when I’m trying to create something new”. It’s wonderful these can all co-exist within the same setting.”
The 2020 the sculptures not only bring a color, hope and optimism to the streets but also made a real difference for those in need. All 50 Meninas will be auctioned for charity, with the money donated to the local food bank.
We’ll be participating again in 2021 and are looking for next year’s Menina artist. Acrylic artists are being asked to create their own design proposal and submit via social media using hashtag #MeninasLiquitex65. As well as the chance to create their own Menina, the winner will receive Liquitex materials worth €650.
Find out more about the Meninas Madrid Gallery initiative here. See more of Maria’s art @customizarte on Instagram.
LIQUITEX AND LIVE MORE, LONDON
When artist Rebecca Byrne was asked to transform two gyms within a National Health Service facility for charity Live More, we were delighted to provide materials. The gyms are within St Charles NHS Hospital’s Centre for Health and Wellbeing and give users of the secure psychiatric intensive care unit much needed space to exercise safely.
Wanting to engage the staff and users in the installation, Rebecca set up a workshop to hear their views, before creating designs for the walls. The result can be seen here – two original works of art made to reflect and include the wishes of the people who live and work in the spaces.
Rebecca tells us more “I really believe in the connection between mental health and exercise, so I was thrilled when I was invited to do this. Water Dance was based on the overwhelming request to bring the outdoors in and make it feel like there was some of the natural world in their environment. The themes reflect the lack of access to large open spaces and considers the way the natural world is also in a struggle to survive and adjust to a changing climate. The plant life depicted is based on images of fauna that are under threat but managing to adjust and thrive. I used multi layers of green and yellow Acrylic Ink as I wanted gestural, fluid forms that seem to be coming to life.
For Octagon Foundations I reflected themes of strength, rebirth and new beginnings. Historically, an octagon symbolizes transition and renewal, and that relates to what many of the people here are going through and became the basis for my painting. I used three shades of blue Soft Body for so the colour itself is in transition, and the shapes open up as they rise - carrying you forward. Gestural mark making was essential to both pieces because it establishes a personal connection from me as an artist, through the work to the people who use the spaces.”
Live More, founded by Matthew Waugh, is an organization dedicated to fostering mental health through sport, specifically in psychiatric hospitals. Find out more about their work here. See more of Rebecca’s work here or @rbyrneblack on Instagram.
DULK, VALENCIA, SPAIN
Antonio Segura Donat, better known as Dulk, is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates urban art, sculpture, painting and drawing with a pop-surrealist style.
His naturalistic worlds invite us into a tragicomic, surreal landscape full of details... sometimes real, sometimes fiction. The unique dreamlike pieces are full of colourful creatures and characters, often expressed as large scale open air murals to incredible effect.
Dulk works exclusively in Liquitex acrylics, particularly Heavy Body and Glazing Medium which he uses to achieve vivid effects and subtle textures. See more of his work @dulk1 on Instagram.
SING FOR HOPE PIANO LAUNCH, LONDON
As part of our ongoing partnership with Sing for Hope, we collaborated with British artist Stuart Semple on a special London piano. The piano titled “Express Yourself”, was designed and painted by the artist, who generously donated his time and talent for the cause. Liquitex acrylics were used to achieve his colorful result.
The piano was unveiled at a launch event in November 2019 at Elephant West, Elephant Magazine's art and community space. It had a one month residency at the venue for all to play before and then was donated to art charity Hospital Rooms. It's now in place within an NHS adolescent mental health ward, being used for music therapy.
Sing for hope pianos, NYC
We strongly believe that art needs to be accessible to all and so we were proud to partner with non-profit arts organization, Sing for Hope, on their 2019 NYC piano programme. Intended to break down barriers and bringing art to the people, 50 artist-designed pianos appeared in parks and community spaces in the five boroughs, each created using Liquitex acrylics.
50 pianos mean 50 artists, each selected as the result of an open application process which started in 2018. With themes of joy, hope, inspiration and togetherness, the varied designs were all painted in a huge communal studio stocked with a full range of Liquitex paints, tools and mediums. Our team ran technical workshops and shared skills to help the piano artists achieve their designs. From sketch portraits applied with direct transfer mediums, to layering, experimental graphic effects and varnishing for the great outdoors, Liquitex versatility has been put to the test on these unconventional three-dimensional canvases.
The annual Sing for Hope piano program takes place for three weeks every summer, by placing the pianos in parks and public spaces throughout New York City and creating artistic hotspots. For many young people it’s their first interaction with a real piano. “As soon as someone sits down and plays, everyone stops and gathers around, and you have this immediate, temporary moment of community.” After a few weeks in the open air, each piano finds a home in a school, hospital, veteran center or community hub, to be enjoyed for many years. It’s a symbol of self-worth, an outlet for creativity, a way to challenge stereotypes and to bring people together. We’re extremely proud to be part of it. If you’re interested in applying to be a piano artist or volunteer in the future, find out more here
Ian Davenport, Dallas Contemporary
We were delighted to support longtime Liquitex user and Turner Prize nominee Ian Davenport’s exhibition at Dallas Contemporary, 2018-2019. Horizons was a rare chance to see the full scope range of Ian’s work: opening with an early piece from his student days at Goldsmiths in London, travelling through Colourfall from the Venice Biennale, to recent work made specifically for the museum space. Curated by museum director Peter Doroshenko, Ian's color-drenched immersive artworks dazzled the senses against the industrial backdrop.
Liquitex is proud to be supporting the charity Hospital Rooms. Founded by artist Tim A Shaw and curator Niamh White, Hospital Rooms commissions extraordinary art and art workshops for secure and locked mental health units. The charity aims to disrupt the barriers that limit access to art and culture for people using these in-patient services and works with a wide range of emerging and established artists, including Anish Kapoor, Nick Knight and Julian Opie. We support the charity’s activities with professional materials for artists and patients to use. See artist Sutapa Biswas below left, working on the Women's Lounge at Highgate's Garnet Ward in the UK, and Rebecca Byrne's 136 Suite at the Woodlands Unit in Ipswich, UK. To find out more, take a look at the Hospital Rooms website.
CHINA TOWN MURAL, NYC
In 2018 we linked up with ArtBridge to help artist Chen Dongfan transform NY Chinatown's Doyers Street into a vivid walkway of color. The artist used Liquitex materials on an asphalt canvas of 4,800 square foot, leading from Pell Street to Bowery, to paint mural ‘The Song of Dragon and Flowers’. In place for three months, the work aimed to capture the soul and spirit of the dragon, while flowers were used as a symbol of peace in response to the history of the neighborhood.
The mural was commissioned by ArtBridge, a New York based non-profit charity which empowers emerging artists to transform urban spaces. Chen currently lives and works between New York and Hangzho. He describes his work as "not about dreams, but rather a kind of reality, a kind of memory, a mental world, the intersection between sensation and illusion, which requires time to find a way in." He is interested in how images are transmitted over time and what are the information and the sensations people receive through transmission, while still paying special attention to the materialistic aspect of paintings, experimenting with texture through layers of paint and welcoming the diverse outcomes of it. Chen used a range of Liquitex Professional acrylic materials for the Doyers Street piece, including Soft Body Acrylic and Spray Paint. The durable, lightfast nature of our formulas has contributed to our long history of mural collaboration, which dates back to 1955.
BRONX STEP UP MURALS, NYC
In 2016 we supported Step Up: Bronx in Motion, the creation of two large-scale murals on steps in the West Bronx, New York. Step streets are public, open-air staircases that provide pedestrian shortcuts across the Bronx’s hilly topography, and were painted by Bronx-based artists Laura Alvarez and Clark Fly ID.
The project was initiated by ArtBridge, in collaboration with the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, using materials from our professional range Laura’s design, Cross-Street Stitches, reflects the neighborhood’s history of manual labor. “I vividly remember the older women in my family working at home taking care of the families but also sewing - creating those beautiful dresses for the children and adding embroidery,” she said. “I want to beautify the neighborhood by adding that touch, creating a cross-stitch pattern along the stairs remembering the old traditions, the hand-made artisanal design in an era of technology and plastic.”
Clark Fly ID’s design, “I Love the Bronx”, riffs on the Bronx’s history as the center of the graffiti art movement. Clark Fly ID is a life-long Bronx resident who has played a prominent role in the borough’s history of street art. “This mural is a colorful reminder of our devotion to the Bronx,” he said. “I find inspiration from the city.” The overarching goal of Step Up: Bronx in Motion is to rethink the intersection of public art, public health and public space.