In March 2018, in his London studio, Kreol had the pleasure to meet Armando Alemdar Ara, an artist and the co-founder of Neomodernism, an artistic movement that places particular importance upon the aesthetic and spiritual attributes of painting. Armando has embodied in his art the ancient mystical beliefs in inner spirituality. The world he presents in his paintings is unique, creating the image of an inner world in continuous movement. His paintings present harmonious, flowing forms, but also powerful tensions, conflicts and breakthroughs; complexity and simplicity, contrasting improvisations, overlapping shadows and parallel dimensions. He aims to strike a balance between the subjective and objective. In this way Armando’s optimism and holistic way of thinking are made transparent to the viewer through the mastery of his technique and his subtle uses of colour.
Armando’s artistic output has been attracting many art lovers and collectors across Europe and the USA for the past twenty years. In observing his mystical imagery we discover a classic and cultivated artistic palette. Confidently controlling any expressive elements that may arise in the heat of creation, Armando engenders a feeling of contemplative intellectual confession. Creating abstract and associative compositions that reflect lyrical and spiritual feelings, Armando relies on his subtle use of colour that makes transparent his optimism and his intimate, and at the same time, collective thinking. Easily recognisable with the curvy shapes and rich colour sense, Armando’s pictures effortlessly create a harmony that ennobles everyone’s soul. Clear in his concepts, confident in the expression of his idea, but also unimposing in his message, Armando appears as a mature artist whose work stand out from the work of other abstract artists, both past and present.
What compels you to be an artist?
Well I just see it as the very reason for my existence. I could not live and not be an artist. But ultimately I think it is to show the world what I have learnt – as I learn when I paint.
I learn about life, I learn wisdom.
Is there a reason why you focus on philosophy so much?
I think that it has always been in me to try and better myself. The best way to better myself, my mind, is through philosophy. We don’t use enough philosophy in our lives and there is a lack of spirituality generally – lack of will to better oneself as a result.
Do you hope that your artwork will encourage people to do this – is this one of your aims?
That’s definitely one of my main aims. Art has essentially a communicative function, although a work of art never bears a direct effect on the viewer. Instead, it has an indirect, subtle effect.
What’s your idea of the Absolute Ideal – the concept that you regularly mention… What do you feel that is?
It is the energy that is in us, and around us; it’s the constant flow of life which has two spheres – the material one in which we all exist, and the spiritual one.
Is that what you try to do in your own work – combine the two elements?
In my pictures I want to show the spiritual that is around the physical body; that is the more pragmatic aim.
With regards to these elements that have been within art works throughout the centuries, what has attracted you to introduce ancient methods? Is this why you invented Neomodernism?
I’m not introducing at all, I am just rewriting; rewriting traditional art values that have always existed. And in this sense Neomodernism is just a new way of looking at art, not as an art movement per say – it is rather a philosophy of art.
How do you consider Neomodernism to be new and original?
Because it is a fresh look at art; it looks through the ‘isms’ of all art movements that preceded it. It allows one to look at an ‘old master’ at the National Gallery with intimacy and sensibility as one would have for any other work that contains the necessary qualities.
This is quite clear in your style. It has a new element to it which is really interesting. Your art presents something so new and yet has traditional grounding. I don’t think that I’ve seen any abstract paintings that have been done which have the depth that yours do. I mean depth in both senses: spiritually and artistically, but also like in that three dimensional sense of depth that we find in Renaissance painting. I can’t think of any other abstract painting that does that.
As an art historian I have considered other abstract paintings, but they’ve often failed the test when works were reproduced in black and white – like Kandinsky for example. It just loses the impact of the depth when in black and white, somehow the form is lost and the image becomes flat. But this is normal for Modernist Art and Kandinsky has remained a major inspiration for me. Modernism has always promoted this idea of flatness of the canvas surface. But to me a painting must be some sort of a window that you can go into, that your whole being can go into, and that’s the beginning of an adventure into an another world.
That is the brilliant quality that you achieve I think – one feels that one can just go in there and be in your pictures like Alice in her mirror; it is wonderful, it is a whole new world.
That is indeed my aim!
Is that why you feel the spiritual element is so important in a piece of work? Do you feel that that is something which is in everyone?
Of course it is, and that is the one dimension which everyone can pick up in a work of art – a real work of art This kind of an art work could speak to everybody. A work of art has got to do that – it has to speak to absolutely everyone – from the layman to the art critic.
How do you go about constructing your pieces of work – the stages?
Starting from realism, with realistic sketches. First I draw the nude realistically – I don’t know whether I see or imagine the shapes or the thoughts around the body – depending on the model and how she or he feels. I present these energy/thought forms as visible as the actual body – equalize them in order to reach abstraction. I have never made a ‘decision’ about a colour. The first colour that comes to mind is actually always the right one. I’ve never made a mistake with colour – never. I’ve made mistakes with form – the form can change throughout the process, but not the colour. However, in the last ten years I have been painting in the Renaissance technique of glazing so I achieve the colours by using several transparent glazes. Each layer has to be completely dry before I apply the next one, which means the process is painstakingly long and time-consuming.
This is I guess unusual for today’s fast modern lifestyle. Do you think it is a handicap in your working and personal life?
Time is relative. Art is timeless. I have to create the way I do regardless of circumstances. Sometimes is difficult and challenging to keep up with daily life and all the responsibilities but these struggles are there to be faced with courage and determination.