Located on Calle Mallorca in the bustling Eixample district is a unique venue combining art, beauty and culture. The exposed brick walls, high ceilings and eclectic decorations give it a modern, cosmopolitan feel. By-day it’s a fully functioning beauty salon and by-night it’s a contemporary art space showcasing the work of young, emerging local and international artists.
As I arrived at Opera Lounge Barcelona on Friday night, the introductions were just getting started. First up, was Mauro, who explained the history and concept behind the space. He told the story how Opera Lounge was originally inspired by the quote from American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: ‘Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art’.
And in 2015, Opera Lounge was born to nurture inspiration, ideas and creativity. After managing to push through the pandemic, this micro-gallery now has a dynamic and evolving calendar of exhibitions. I attended opening night of Metaphorical Space, an art exhibition showcasing the works of Latvian artist Ilze Preisa.
Ilze and her work received a number of introductions; first by her art dealer, Iveta Jankovska who organizes the Music Meets Art exhibition events in Barcelona. Next, by Lourdes Cirlot, art theorist, art historian and researcher, whose work highlights diverse aspects of 20th and 21st century art. Lourdes did a nice job of walking us through a handful of Ilze’s paintings on display to explain their symbolism, significance and technique.
One detail that stood out to me during the presentations is that Ilze is not only an accomplished painter, but she also shares her time and talents with marginalized children and adolescents through art therapy in Berlin. This unpretentious generosity was fitting with the person before me. Ilze was humble and kind throughout the event, taking the time to explain her paintings to those who were interested and taking pictures with her guests.
I especially enjoyed the variety of her paintings on display. As artists, we’re advised to only display one style of our work at a time, so as not to confuse our viewers. While this advice does make sense in many contexts, it’s also very restraining for artists and prohibitive for viewers.
I like seeing the variety of styles an artist explores. Ilze showed some classical paintings with a luxurious feel as well as works that showed great technical skill. But the painting I liked best was organic and free-flowing— a diptych of flowers she painted to let loose and have some fun. That’s exactly the feeling the painting transmitted to me—relaxed and unconstrained. A perfect piece to hang in a cabana on a tropical island.
Last, but certainly not least, the final presentation of the evening was from Swedish jazz musician Fredrik Carlquist, who composed songs to accompany two of Ilze’s paintings. Fredrik’s music was the perfect combination to enjoy good company and good art.
If you’re interested in seeing Ilze’s paintings in person, they’re on display and for sale at Opera Lounge Barcelona until June 1st.