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A Modern Mona Lisa.

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                        Copyright 2012 ©  Ferran Escote

A Modern Mona Lisa. 

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned.
William Butler Yeats

Leonardo Da Vinci´s Mona Lisa can be said to be one of the most famous paintings in the art world. Beyond the enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa, the history and style of the painting continues to fascinate its viewers. It has survived for over 500 years, witnessing the passing of the Renaissance and enduring revolutions and wars. It has been in housed at the Palace de Versailles, the bedroom of Napoleon I and now the Louvre in Paris. Once stolen from its home at the Louvre it is now given extraordinary security measures. It is perhaps the fact that the painting and its creation has been couched in mystery that explains its continuing fascination.

It has inspired writers, musicians and other painters. It has inspired Spanish artist, Ferran Escote, to paint a modern image of the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa 2011 is a modern version of the Mona Lisa image. Her profile and posture are clearly recognisable and she continues to mesmerise her audience. Like the original da Vinci painting, Escote captures the mysterious smile of Mona Lisa. He employs vibrant colours and his use of tonality of colour brings depth to the painting. Escote´s painting invites the viewer to explore the concept of beauty in the 21st century and in the past when da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. Is beauty now less subjective and based on a style that has been packaged and produced for a common market?

The painting raises questions of the influence of technology and globalisation on the art world in the 21st century. This issue was recently explored by Neil Gabler in an essay
in the Los Angles Times (June 06, 2010).

Gabler pointed out that the process by which art is created and the fundamentals of art are changing in the 21st century. He concludes that the old principles of one man, one creation have changed and argues that the art world has moved to a new form of art that he refers to as ¨recombinant art¨. The capability of using the Internet and technology to produce and overlap images provides wide opportunity for people to create new art works. He defines this as an art form that incorporates the concept of appropriation. Art history has had a long tradition of appropriation or borrowing styles and forms of what came before. Gabler indicates that the production of art has become a rampant collaboration in which every work of art is simply raw material for anyone who decides to put his or her imprint on it. Gabler argues that this redefines the meaning of artist and art production. Everyone can become an artist. His article also touches the issue of how the world of technology in the 21st century impacts mass production and consumption of art.

Art appropriation is not novel to the 21st century. The popularity of the Mona Lisa image made it appealing to artists from the 16th century to the 20th century. The image was used as early as 1515 by Salino in Mono Vanna and Mona Lisa Nude (The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). It was also used in 1883 by the avant-guard artist, Eugene Batailla, in his art work ¨Mona Lisa Smoking a Pipe¨, by Marcel Duchamp in 1919 in his work ¨L.H.O.O.Q.¨ and by Salvidor Dali in his 1954 ¨Self – Portrait as Mona Lisa¨. The concept of ¨one artist, one creation¨ started to blur with Andy Warhol´s Mona Lisa serigraph prints ¨Thirty are Better than One ¨ but the art work was clearly an Andy Warhol creation. Warhol recognised that the Mona Lisa image had achieved icon status in popular society. Warhol also recognised that the definition of art was being stretched in a new economic and social context. Mass production and mass consumption had taken the place of art sponsors of previous eras. The Mona Lisa image has now been distributed to a global market place by people marketing consumer products to both genders and to all income levels ranging from Mona Lisa designer hand bags to Mona Lisa ties and cups.

Where does Escote´s new art work fall in the definition of ¨art¨? His painting affirms the concept of ¨one artist, one creation¨. After seeing the originality of
his art work and speaking with him about its creation, it is clear that the painting is unique and that Escote follows his own style of painting. The work exhibits balance, proportionality and symmetry of the computer age. There is clearly appropriation, borrowing from art styles of the past. The work shows the influence of colour-field, post-expressionism and pop.art but his painting is not defined by those styles and is his own. The Mona Lisa, 2011 is part of the aesthetic of 21st century art.

Ferran Escote has exhibited internationally in Spain, the Domincan Republic and the United States. He was was awarded 1º Primeor Español Ilustre en la Republica Dominia.

Copyright 2012 © Charalee Graydon

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