Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Invisible Paintings of Edd Aragon

I had a request from Ronit, a friend in Israel, to write a story about Edd Aragon, an artist some of you may have seen recently on Dateline. His work might remind some of you of the old children's tale, the Emperor has no Clothes, since this painter is creating "invisible" paintings. Edd’s medium is phosphorescent pigment. The non-traditional substances Edd Aragon applies are visible only under ultraviolet light. His canvases look totally blank to the naked eye. Like a closely guarded secret, paintings of nudes, rock musicians and historical figures come to life only under ultraviolet light.

In 2004, he was commissioned to paint a mural in a restaurant/rock club venue in Australia. This is what originally prompted him to begin exploring UV-reactive paint materials. During the day, the walls remain a pristine white. However, when the lights go down in the evening, the place comes alive with Edd’s awe-inspiring murals lit by a black light.

Aragon initially used a mineral coincidentally sharing his name, aragonite, which is mined near Aragon, Spain. The expensive UV-reactive pigment costs $450 U.S. Dollars for approximately 30 grams, pushing him to experiment on less expensive alternatives. He now mixes synthetic UV-reactive pigments used in printing presses, with acrylic materials.

Edd writes:

Tandang Sora in Blue is part of my Tres Kantos exhibits (3 venues) in Manila which include digital art and editorial cartoons published in the Sydney Morning Herald and other Australian publications since 1980.

I was reminded of my own Lola while I painted Tandang Sora. Painting her and using unusual pigments which are ultra-violet light reactive is challenging yet fun. During daytime, Tandang Sora (and my other UV paintings) can’t be seen as other spectra of light dominate. However under the dark light beamed on a glowing, historical past, the concept or spirit of caring by the aged shall always serve as reference points as to how far we have realized that Tandang Sora shall be us sooner or later..and we shall be a lone, dim candle in the vast darkness. Tandang Sora lives within the Filipino family, quietly observing, imparting wisdom to grandchildren, immune to asides and verbal abuse for her petty mistakes as she is accused of senility. Lest We Forget. “

Aragon believes Ultraviolet painting is romantic, nocturnal and mysterious. He hopes to inspire other adventurous artists to try it out.

His exhibit is showing at the Banyuhay Heber Arts and Music Centre in Manila. Aragon is also an award-winning editorial and comic strip cartoonist, having worked for newspapers in the Philippines and then Australia, where he's been living since 1979.

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Stacy Alexander