Royal artist descends from throne with birds, dragons
Hailing from a family of Spanish nobility, the son of a marquis, Carlos Morell Orlandis settles in the Middle Kingdom, where he continues his passion for art rather than living a life of royalty back in his native Majorca.
"It is not blood flowing in my veins, but pigments," he said, about his true calling.
Orlandis, 52, currently a visiting scholar with the Visual Art School of Fudan University, is now showing a solo exhibition of his works featuring his intrigue with mystical creatures like birds and dragons, at the Shanghai Art Museum.
"His paintings are filled with rich imagination and delicate strokes and compositions; all creatures in his paintings, be it animals like dragons, horses and birds, or plants, all share the same innocent playfulness," said Li Lei, director of the Shanghai Art Museum.
"You get a peaceful and happy feeling while looking at his art," Li added. "He is faithful to his own inside world, yet never restricted to signature images and symbols, nor is he affected by any artistic trend."
A series of paintings are devoted to Spanish birds, painted in vivid detail against a textual backdrop which lends to fantastic effect. Other highlights include a focus on the dragon, but show a softer, more playful side of the creature, rather than bending to how the animal is typically presented in Western mythology or traditional Chinese culture.
"Don't ask me why, these are just what dragons are like in my imagination," he said.
Though there have been few artists among previous generations in the family, Orlandis remembers growing up always drawing as a child. But it was not until after earning a doctorate degree in archeology that he decided to pursue an artistic career. Studying art in Barcelona gave him an understanding of fundamental concepts, which he draws from in combination with his own ideas to create a distinct style.
He is well-known for delivering a sense of fluidity in his works as he makes wide use of curvatures, whether through olive tree branches, the tail of a dragon, or abstract images of microbiological landscapes.
"Curves bring a sense of movement; I am a 'curvist'," he said, smiling contentedly about the new word and title he just coined for himself. "There is cubism, so why can't there be 'curvism' as well?"
His archeological background also enters his work as his past studies have given him strong research skills and cultivated a genuine interest in history. These factors are evident in his paintings, both in his approach as well as with his subjects.
"I do my own exploration (of what I want to paint), and then I improvise the actual painting," he said.
Ultimately, Orlandis described the secret to creating good art as simply following the heart, and nothing else.
"Learn the necessary skills for painting and then forget all about them and develop your own skill and style," he said.
Until Nov 13, 9 am - 5 pm
Shanghai Art Museum
325 Nanjing Road W.