Friday, 23 August 2013

Let there be Beauty…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so goes the saying. And, indeed, very often what looks trivial or even unattractive to some may contain in itself the very seeds of Beauty. It takes the sensitive eye of an artist to be able to create Art from materials as common and uninteresting as industrial nails, toothpicks, corks, eggshells, coffee beans or even paint brushes.

And that is exactly what Saimir Strati, an Albanian artist, does. He is regarded as one of the most famous and distinguished modern mosaic artists, having created stunning mosaics out of those humble materials, seven of which have won him Guinness World Records for their size and skill.

His gigantic portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci (2006) became a milestone in Strati’s career. Recreating the talented Renaissance genius’s self portrait, he used about 400 kilos of industrial nails – more than 500,000 nails – on a surface of over 2x4 meters, each of them organised according to different depths carefully planned under a technique identical to that of digital photography, in which each nail represents a pixel. The result is, literally, a dazzling resemblance of Da Vinci’s self portrait, which strongly impresses viewers and obliterates the notion that it has been made from common industrial nails.

In fact, Strati’s works gain unique texture and body precisely owing to the kind of materials used. During the 2nd International Festival “From Waste to Art”, held in Baku, Azerbaijan, (16-20 June, 2013), a photograph was taken of a visitor actually feeling one of Sarti’s works with her hands in awe. Curiously enough, a comment written by one of Sarti’s followers on his page on Facebook was “Don’t touch!” However, this seems to be something quite unavoidable for viewers, who seem to be irresistibly attracted to his art works and to have this urge to touch them in order to fully embrace and experience his creations.

Another extraordinary exhibit by Saimir Strati is a giant mosaic of Michael Jackson (2009) made entirely of paint brushes, a personal tribute to the King of the Pop form an artist who has always been inspired by music. This work seems to grow out of its own context due to the rich, thick texture given by the hair out of which the paint brushes are made. Strati has actually produced a mosaic series under the title “The Four Seasons”, based on Vivaldi’s concerto, in which each season is represented by a different musical instrument, and a portrait of Elvis Presley about two meters high, in which he used over four hundred CDs.

His most recent project, however, is a huge mosaic using over one million coffee beans of different shades, “One World, One family, One Coffee”, which he expects to complete by December 12 this year. Once finished, this unique artwork is expected to measure 25 square meters and weigh about 140kg and is bound to set a new Guinness Record for Strati.

With his incredible talent and patience, Saimir Strati has been proving that, in fact, beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, since he has been able to bring humble materials to the level of great works of art, which have won admiration and recognition throughout the world. On the other hand, he has offered us all a fresh and unexpected way of looking at those materials, endowing them with a dignity they didn’t have so far. Let there be beauty...

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