The Power of Art – Pablo Valbuena

I have been feeling a little bit down this week. It’s been two months since I came back to Paris and job hunting, the cold, missing my South-African friends and life, adapting to a new every day, having this feeling sometimes that I need to start all over again (illogical but still present), … it’s not easy every day and particularly this week has been quite challenging. I was in the mood for nothing and spent a few days being quite lazy; until I decided to go to the Centquatre to see the work of the Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena.

Pablo Valbuena, Augmented Sculpture, 2007. @Centquatre, Paris, February 2019. Photo credit: Maxime Laprade.

Pablo is a multimedia artist who creates immersive installations which adapt to the space they are made for. He uses light, sound and video to create memorable experiences. I didn’t know who he was before going to the exhibitions. I went without expecting anything and I left feeling new and energized. Every piece exhibited is smart and beautiful. The vibe is really calm and chilled which I connected to my mood on that day. The piece called Augmented Sculpture especially did something to me. In a dark room, a sculpture in a corner lights itself creating a story (cf the video). I stayed a while in that room. I was alone, looking at the sculpture, following the waves of light, losing myself in them. It was quiet, simple, poetic, going in all directions but making sense as a whole. A moment of life during which I thought about nothing, I was just feeling the story, captivated.

Formas de tiempo [4400] is another installation I really enjoyed. 400 black and white floor tiles are displayed on the floor creating a pattern of some sort. The visitor is free to change the pattern with the only condition that if she/he starts, he/she has to finish. The artist suggests a few designs which can be chosen by the visitor but she/he can also create a new one. That’s what I did. With the help of the Centquatre staff member who was there, I changed the pattern, one tile after another. It took us about 1 hour and 15 min to get it done. It challenged my commitment but also my creativity, giving me the freedom to choose the pattern I wanted to create. It made me focus on one task : my mind was busy doing something, not just contemplating. And at the end, I had a feeling of accomplishment. It felt good.

The exhibition allows the visitor to fully experience the work of Pablo Valbuena. Each visitor is given the space and the freedom to do so in her/his own way. The work of the artist touched me while also making feel that I had a purpose, at least for a the time of the visit. I went back home feeling better than before visiting the exhibition. I felt more accomplished, more capable. The next day, I woke up stronger.


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