El Dado del Arte:
A mirror to our souls

Photo courtesy of Pilar DM

According to Yoda, “There is no try, there is only do.”

Pilar DM drives a punishing schedule with the vital disciplines of contemporary art and cultural communication. She covers it in almost all imaginable forms as blogger at El Dado del Arte and Community Manager at Casa Batlló — Gaudí Barcelona, Spain. El Dado del Arte features photography, cinema, “Utopías del Arte” for UnBreak (an interactive magazine for tablets), vignettes of art in Paris, Ireland, Russia, Turkey and the Orient, and more.

In the daily grind of life, it’s all too easy to dismiss art as unessential. Yet, were we to slow down and share a moment’s respite with a friend to explore art, we come to a point of poignancy: we bleed with emotions. We cry in tears of joy, humour and tragedy. We question: we seek out truths, half-truths and untruths. We shy away from horror, and are irresistibly drawn to horror — giving free rein to our primal, bestial selves.

It is in this questioning, this uneasy state of doubt, and of feeling perplexed that makes us grow. And it is this freedom of thought and debate that a repressive government fears most. For nothing can shackle our hearts and minds were we given permission and encouragement to explore what it really means to be human without resorting our very selves to reckless behaviour.

Trees grow stronger with wind and hail. Minds grow stronger with questions, doubt and reflexion. As we live in an era of sound bites, in which it is all too easy to believe in the veracity of a tweet and give in the urge to retweet it at once.

Pilar DM, who blogs at El Dado del Arte, is that rare soul that shines a mirror
to our souls. She makes us think twice.

It was through her that I discovered the pain of a nation so close to ours — that of Myanmar, in its transition toward democracy. Pilar highlights the work of Ana Galán, who photographed people persecuted by the then military junta for crimes too mundane and unlikely to be called crimes.

The story of Phyoe Phyoe Aung stood out. She was arrested in 2008, when she was 19, for 3 years and 5 months for having participated in re-establishing the All Burma Federation of Students Unions at the very beginning of the Saffron Revolution in 2007. After hiding for 9 months from the military, she left her cover and joined a volunteer group that had been formed by her father to deliver aid to the Irrawaddy Delta region after Cyclone Nargis struck. They dug a big hole in a field to bury corpses people were too afraid to touch because of religion or reprisals from the authorities. On the third night, while going back to Yangon, Phoe Phoe was caught. The rest of the group, including her father, were arrested for criminal association, for having been found together with her.

Pilar gives us a retrospective on Jean-Michel Basquiat in the 30th Sunday in the series *arteenelcine by Julian Schanabel, 1996. Just as he burns for recognition and is recognized by Andy Warhol and the art merchant and gallerist Bruno Bischofberger early in life, Basquiat dies young at 27 from an overdoes of various drugs.

New York City, 1979. “Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh boat. There is no trip so horrible that someone won’t take it.”

Despite his tormented days, Basquiat found love enduring. In a scene in the movie about his life, Basquiat asks in the movie if he can walk Gina, a waitress whom he fancies, home. She agrees. Gina plucks a leaf out of his hair and asks: “have you been camping out?”

“I’m clean. I always smell good, I don’t know why. I just do.”

“I’ll take your word for that.”

And we go back centuries to the time of Rembrandt in the film Nightwatching by Peter Greenaway. Rembrandt is driven by singular passion for his first love and wife, Saskia who plays a central role, together with her cousin, in bringing Rembrandt fame and fortune. The artist burns with ambition and starts calculating the price of the portraiture of a group of militia from Amsterdam in comparison with other works of art which he had been commissioned: an entire figure of a body for 100 Florins, a half body for 50, a bust for 25, and so on.

Rembrandt’s life unravels in unremitting ways — that glorious portraiture of the militia is not to be. His artistic interpretation which reveals a dark secret is scorned, leaving him badly beaten up and deprived of payment and glory for what would be, in posterity, one of his most famous work.

And so it is in our own lives — once too often, we dream, we plan, we execute, and all fall short. We cry, we weep, we belabour the fact that it’s due to the fault of others, the fault of the heavens.

And we fall into the arms of a charmer, a friend, a stranger in the night to salve our wounds — to take us away from this world that upends
the architecture of our lives.

The interior of Casa Batlló — Gaudí courtesy of Pilar DM who works there as Community Manager.

Pilar DM began blogging at El Dado del Arte in 2006 for personal and professional reasons after her studies in History of Art. This led to her entry into the world of social media, and she cannot imagine a day without these two passions now. She works as Community Manager at Casa Batlló — Gaudí Barcelona, and throught her blog, has learnt the benefits of its use and its nuances.

Writing is a necessity for Pilar; it is a way to reflect on the state of contemporary art, its influence on society, and on new artistic movements. She writes with verve and boldness, explaining her approach to work, success and failure. Pilar says: “I believe both success and failure are relative concepts. How does one evaluate success, how does one evaluate failure? For me, the important step is to have taken the risk, to have tried, tested, investigated, and above all, learnt from my endeavours.”

Creo que tanto el éxito como el fracaso son conceptos relativos. ¿Cómo se valora el éxito y cómo se valora el fracaso? Para mí lo importante es haber arriesgado, probado, testeado, investigado, y sobre todo aprendido.
And in this way, Pilar DM is free to live, to write and to feel.

Follow Pilar DM @eldadodelarte . She can be contacted at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pilardm

  • Sue specializes in foods with provenance (Denominación de Origen) and sustainable tourism in Barcelona, Spain. She can be contacted at: http://about.me/suechien.lee
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