The Art of Antonio Dominguez de Haro (Almunecar, 14th Mayo 1928)

There was a queue of people at the door of the Sale de Expositiones de la Casa Condesa de Torre-Isabel when we arrived for the exhibition launch on a warm evening in early June. Some idling, some waiting to get through, others smoking a last cigarette before they entered to hear the dignitaries speak in glowing tones of one of their own: An Andalusian, an Almuñecar man, now in his 80's, who sent the critics racing for their pens when he launched his first exhibition at the age of 16, which expressed his interest in sub- marine landscaping.

My art teacher had passed on the official invite, the lovely inscribed and illustrated invitation from the La Alcaldesa del Ayuntamiento de Motril, which I was glad to get. Having attended some of their public presentations in the past I knew by experience the detail and polish that attended their affairs.

However, just being an amateur artist and no critic, when I view art it is from a subjective perspective rather than an objective one. For what do I really know about the type of work that goes into producing and harnessing year in and year out a constant flow of creativity. So I consider myself as the person on the street walking through the corridors of someone else's imagination. Like most of you guys out there?

And what a treat I had. I don't have to say here that Dominnguez de Haro is a fine artist, for anyone with an interest in Spanish art will recognise his name, he's a man who uses his skills to paint and detail marine life, who uses his voice to display the colour, life and sound, to leave an artful reference and story of what we have, and what we have to lose if don't attend to our environment with better care.

His colour, his detail, the clarity of his stroke ,and the tone of his voice invite one to step into imagination, to lift the undersea world into a daily mediation. "For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquillity ..." Marcus Aurelius," and De Haro gives one an alternative image to mediate on.

At reception on the way through, I received a neatly tied scroll with a short bio and with a print of one of his paintings, ready for framing, and I also bought a catalogue of his work. What struck me on flicking through it there and then was his introductory piece: El Origen de la Vida, only painted in 2008, it depicts a mother and child submerged in the blue of the ocean. The life connection, awakened within the colour, communicated a soul's understanding of all life as one, and it drew me into the body of his work. And I loved it enough to research and read more.

The promise that surfaced in the young lad's work was fulfilled. De Haro has had a glowing career, with numerous worldwide exhibitions, with response from museums who bought his work and from art bodies who supported his passion. From a young age he had the privilege of following his heart and living his dream, and now in the winter of his life he can step back in and know he fulfilled that first promise. It's not every artist that receives recognition within their lifetime. But De Haro, is the type of man who would appreciate this, too. He's seen the tough times, when he was involved in a serious road traffic accident and nearly lost his life in 1990 , then he had to walk away from his scuba, and revisit his voice as he searched his spirit for the form that the sea had imprinted there. But he had tasted the flavour, so he found his way within to transcribe from memory.

One of my favorite paintings is his 'Las Sandalias del Pescador;' of course from a writerly perspective I loved its title as it immediately brought to mind fish wearing flip flops, high heels and shoes of all types as they went about their affairs. And of course on further reading I discovered that this image is of fish seen through an old microscope, but that's the beauty of art, the viewer gets to transcribe their own impression onto the artists' voice.

De Haro has spent a lifetime working on his passion: Painting and the seas. He became a scuba diver to investigate, appreciate, understand and capture the beauty of the underwater landscape; when he could no longer dive he found a way to continue for that's the drive of passion. Each of Dominguez's paintings carries a conservation message about a future devastated by pollution. Poetry, music and hope live within his work, Dominquez has successfully exhibited in Europe, UK. and the US. And I glad to discover that a permanent exhibition of his work can be found in Granada, for it makes it accessible for me to visit at will. For those who want more information about his life work, his profile and a complete biography with a list of exhibitors past and upcoming and a list of museums that own his work can be accessed through his website and on Wikipedia.

Mari 3rd July, 2014

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