Arnau Llobert Gelabert ارناو يوبيت جالوبيرت
Through a special arrangement with Farrera, Spain-based Centre d’Art i Natura, the young Spanish artist Arnau Llobert Gelabert engaged in a residency and work-exchange with Artellewa between April and June 2010. His residency culminated in an exhibition in the Artellewa gallery space in June.
A wooden cage in the center of a small room surrounded by paper airplanes expresses the “tangible” utopia that Gelabert perceived during his three-month stay in Cairo. His “Passport” installation is the expression of the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which he also quotes in the exhibition brochure: “All human beings are born free and equal in dig- nity and rights.”
In a cage, a bunch of passports with a cutting saw in between them symbolize those who live their lives as if they were imprisoned, Gelabert explains. “People’s lives are controlled by the government, which prevents them from traveling abroad by making the release of passports difficult,” the artist explains. “Besides, living in a place where you can see airplanes all the time— as in the room surrounded by a blue sky and paper airplanes—is even more frustrating, because it makes you desire freedom even more.”
Gelabert is a self-taught visual artist and painter. Humans are his major interest, and, he says, he is in an “endless process of learning, working and investigating shapes, forms and meaning.”
Entering Arnau’s world is revealing: “I know the earth is round, but I like to think it is infinitely flat,” he says. Before explaining his art, he asks your opinion; what you get from the particular work of art.
He likes listening to people, especially women, whose suffering is the main theme of the exhibition. The three paintings displayed in the art gallery were painted in Cairo after meeting and speaking with women in the streets of Ard el-Lewa.
In one piece, a woman is suffocated and immobilized by hands that cover her entire body. “Women are often controlled by men,” he explains. “When you are outside, you are someone, but only when you come back home can you be yourself,” he adds, noting that this was both tiring and frustrating.
Arnau loves Cairo, but at the same time expresses concern with social issues and perceived oppression. Living here is often painful for him, and he expresses this suffering in the image of a man whose eyes have been plucked out by a bird, a symbol of those who are consumed—little by little—by others.