Self-taught impressions to go on display at the Thomas Anthony Gallery
When painter Ramon Vilanova was a youngster growing up in Catalunya, Spain, he wanted to purse a career in the arts.
His parents wanted him to try a more practical career, so he compromised and began working at an architectural firm.
"One of the ways I was able to do something that would make my parents happy and at the same time feed my love of art was technical drawing, but I always wanted to paint something that was more alive," Vilanova said through his interpreter Juan Pi during a phone call from Florida. "When the architectural business didn’t go very well, I felt like that was my chance to try surviving as an impressionist painter.
"There is a saying in Spanish ‘If there is a train crossing before you, you either have to jump on or wait for the next one’ and I didn’t want to wait for the next one."
The Thomas Anthony Gallery will host a reception for Ramon Vilanova on Friday, Feb. 24, during the Park City Gallery Association Gallery Stroll, from 6 p.m. until 6 p.m.
Although Vilanova knew how to draw buildings, he learned his painting through trial and error. While working as a technical artist, he entered his paintings in many art competitions, where he received awards and accolades.
"I am a shy, but I am very thankful for the compliments," he said. "I also know I have to accept them, because as an artist, that’s my obligation."
Vilanova is often referred to as one of the finest landscape painters in Europe, and is known for his pure form of plein aire (open air) compositions, which he paints on site.
"With the architecture renderings, you’re working under the direction of someone who tells you that you have to make something a certain way, so there is no freedom," he said. "As a person who enjoys the environment, I want to find a special spot where I can get a specific feeling," he said. "When I paint landscapes, I am not really looking at the whole scene, but for something that sticks out in my mind."
Vilanova also knows when he revisits an area a few months or a year later, he will notice different things such as new plants, trees or bushes.
"Even days can be different, too, because there can be rain, sun, clouds," he said. "I can paint the same view, but with different lighting to give off different emotions."
The artist also believes he can use more color and exaggerate some of the aspects of a scene to enhance certain feelings.
"I am waiting to be surprised by what will grow next," he said.
Art dealer and collector Greg Bloch, who represents Vilanova in the United States, was introduced to the artist’s work 12 years ago.
"I fell in love with Ramon’s work 12 years ago when I was in Spain for Juan’s wedding," Bloch said. "I walked into Juan’s family gallery and Ramon’s work touched me viscerally."
During the reception, Bloch and Pi discussed how they could introduce Vilanova to the United States.
"Thomas and Carol Anthony in Park City were among the first gallery owners we approached, because they have been my friends for many years," Bloch said. "We started with one gallery and, now, we have six galleries around the United States that we work with. That pretty much taxes Ramon’s production, because he can only do so many paintings, because he works in a very unusual way."
Throughout the years, Vilanova developed his own style by using a spatula to apply and shape the oil on the canvas.
"He also reverses the canvas because he found it helped him get better texture, rather than what he got on a prepared canvas, and only when he is done does he use a brush, and that’s only to sign his name," Bloch said.
The Thomas Anthony Gallery, 340 Main St., will host an opening reception for Spanish painter Ramon Vilanova during the Park City Gallery Association’s Monthly Gallery Stroll from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The event is open and free to the public. For more information, visit http://www.thomasanthonygallery.com
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