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Da Vinci Wall, Silvia Lerin Wall

Text by Satoru Yamada after attending my solo exhibition ‘Copper Landscapes’ and subsequent visit to my studio during my residency at the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid. Spain. 2021

If you stare at a dirty wall with stains, if you stare at a stone wall with stains, surely you will be enthusiastic about creating various scenes. The walls are all mountains, rivers, trees, and plains. It offers different views with fields, great valleys, and hills.


Leonardo da Vinci (from “Theory of Painting”)

In February 2021, I discovered the very oriental Japanese art at the Puxagallery exhibition: a large circle of turquoise greens with a golden border. The dull heavy green artwork looks like an oxidized copper wall, stained and worn by time, however, the wall conveys us. This beauty casually fits into the Japanese wabi and sabi aesthetic, the aesthetic suitable for the solemnity produced by the story.

The artist is Silvia Lerín. After finishing Fine Arts at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, 1998, she began her career as a painter, although she also works with installation and mural painting. Taking advantage of her residence in the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid, where she lived, I went to visit her. When I pointed out the Japanese aesthetic to her, she replied: “Things that are worn are very poetic.”

In this exhibition, some works are paintings on canvas, wood or paper, as well as engravings with the Collagraph technique. All of her works produce the sensation of textures of an oxidized copper or bronze plate, but she wanted to play with perception, because she exhibited work with collages and assemblages with real copper.

Since his first individual exhibition at the La Nave gallery, Valencia 2005, he has continued to hold numerous shows up to the current one, such as, for example, in 2009 at the CMAE in Avilés in Asturias, in 2008 and in 2011 at the Sophien-Edition gallery in Berlin; in 2015, with the title “Mind The Gap” at the Horizon gallery, in Colera, Girona; in 2016 she exhibits “IVY” in the exhibition space of the Idea Store, in London. Finally, in 2021, she opens the “Copper Landscapes” exhibition in Puxagallery, Madrid and is already actively working.

She has won numerous awards such as the first prize in the II Mainel Foundation Contest in Valencia and the first prize in the Castellón National Painting Contest in 2000. And she continues to be awarded first prize in other contests, such as the XXIX National Painting Contest in Vila de Pego, in the Arte No Morrazo Prize of the Concello de Cangas in Pontevedra and many others. In 2011 she was also awarded the XII National Painting Prize of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Carlos in Valencia and the XLII Autumn Salon Ateneo Prize and more recently she received the Annex Collection Award in the United Kingdom. In addition, she has enjoyed numerous scholarships and residencies, highlighting the Pollock Krasner Foundation scholarship in New York.

In the exhibition, there were many interesting works, but in this article, I will only focus on Silvia’s “wall” painting. According to her, she says, when she was nine years old she already wanted to be a painter, as a child she painted landscapes or still lifes, and when she wanted to realize it, she had become an abstract painter dialoguing with geometry. But is this an expression of landscape?: “Yes, for me, yes.”, she replies.

The word “geometry” evokes a very mathematical concept, but her “geometry” is very poetic and organic. The circle of the large “wall” gives us the feeling of being the lens of the spyglass. Through the lens, we observe a part of nature. Perhaps that is why the circle is organic. By the way, we talk about “landscape”, but the “wall” of her work showed us the landscape of the “fractal” phenomenon as the essence of nature. From my point of view, she is not a landscape painter, but of nature, since she does not address a specific landscape that she has discovered: “For me, the important thing in my art is “duality”, not literally the confrontation of two things, but the need for a for other.”

Without a doubt, there is “duality” in her work: paper and texture like copper, false and true, new and old, natural and artificial and other “duities”, but they do not confront each other, they interact to establish the work.

She gives the feeling that she was an oriental born in Spain. For the philosophy of Taoism, the cosmos is made through duality: male/female, light/shadow, right/left, many dualities including life and death. You can’t miss any of them. For the calm world, all dualities have to function to bring about balance in the cosmos or in nature. The key is the scale paper.

Suddenly, looking at it, I imagined that Silvia Lerín’s work “rusty copper wall” is more accessible to Easterners than Westerners, although considering her brilliant award-winning career, it is clear that Westerners also appreciate the art of she. It is probable that Leonardo also contemplated the essence of nature through the dirty wall.


Satoru Yamada

Independent art critic and AICA member. 2021