There are lives that open up questions, that arouse empathy and interest. There are extraordinary lives, stories of suffering and overcoming, examples of people we cannot do without. Lita Cabellut is one of those people. You could listen to her or observe her works for hours and you would never get tired because there is always a revealing, logical, coherent and thought-out detail. The characters in Lita’s work spring directly from the soul and are the result of a relentless work that began when she was little and still lasts. As the poet said, “nothing ends if it doesn’t end inside you first” (“res no acaba si dintre teu abans no acaba”).
Lita, was a street girl who grew up around the Ramblas in Barcelona, where she accompanied her grandmother in the daily hard work of earning a piece of bread. She gave tourists colourful stars that she kept in an imaginary bag in exchange for alms. Fantasy became a parallel world filled with shapes and colours that emerged from the dirty puddles of the streets of Barcelona.
Life always has many faces and after living rough on the streets of a city that turned its back on her, she was adopted by a family that had been looking for her for a long time. Almost illiterate, she told her parents that she wanted to go to the Museo del Prado, and there the parallel world that gave life to her imagination began to have meaning.
Lita lives and works in the Netherlands, but she is a universal artist. The purpose of her art is to value beauty, whatever its category. In her words, beauty is the absolute acceptance of what we have to live through.
She specialises in portraits and has painted many figures, some them iconic, such as Frida Kahlo, Einstein and Camaron de la Isla; and others who are people living in the margins. What Lita highlights in all of them is their beauty.
All her work is suggestive and moving, but we were especially drawn by this painting where the two female protagonists of the play Bodas de Sangre by Federico Garcia Lorca, a book that Lita Cabellut illustrated in an edition published by the publishing house Artika, are talking.
Silence to hear the hearts beating. Silence to make way for the laments of blood. Silence to give prominence to the whisper of the wind. Silence between them, to let their eyes and hands and their whole face and their whole body speak.
Now that the words are silent, they can now come closer and touch each other skin to skin. Stillness unites them. The harshness of the time they have had to live through does not allow them to express what they feel without the barriers of words and thoughts appearing. Mother, daughter, bride, wife, submissive women who weave, in the housework, day by day, the boundaries of the walls that imprison them, walls built on obedience and tradition.
But under the skin there are many skins. The deepest is the real skin, the one that shows who we are in essence. Then there is the skin of inheritance, of all that we are by genetic imposition. Traits of our way of being that we have not learned, but that are manifested through the bloodstream from the depths of the double helix. The third skin is the one that shows all that we are here and now, it is the sum of what time has made of us. It is this third skin that we see in the painting, the skin that finds beauty and freedom in spite of suffering.
The hands would never have come close, would never have touched, because distance had to be kept, each one defending her home, like a wolf showing its teeth when it sniffs danger. But the devastation has been so great, the grief is immense, they have both lost so much, that they now touch each other seeking solace.
Beauty and disasters. Smile and tear. Black and white. The duality of existence itself. The white of life and the black of beauty, and plenty of room for all nuances. There is no one black, there are many blacks and there are also many whites and a myriad of greys. Each colour is superimposed forming layers, layers that crack, that fragment into a thousand pieces that complement each other. Each empty space belongs to a time that has already passed, but that has left its mark and that becomes a legacy for those who will come.
There is also a constant presence: the garnet, blood garnet, of a borrowed life, lost due to the law of force, the law of imposition. There is garnet because there has been no dialogue, no humanity and everything has ended up splattered with blood.
Maybe now that their hands are together, now that their breaths are crossed, now that their eyes are closed and have no more tears to cry, maybe now is the time to start again, to speak, to give way to life and to steer change.
Everything speaks in the work of Lita Cabellut. Each painting becomes a mirror full of details that responds to each of the gazes that fall upon it. It is a lively, hyper-realistic, meticulous body of work that shows the two or more faces of life and does not miss a detail. The materials are superimposed in layers creating a story on the canvas, a story that leaves an imprint on us when the artists violently strips them to expose what we are in essence. This is a body of work that leaves us with transparent gazes that have their roots in the heart. Gazes we can’t do without. Lita Cabellut held an exhibition at the Vila Casas Foundation in 2017: when will we see another great exhibition in the city of her childhood dreams?
To find out more
Muñiz, P. (2021). Lita Cabellut. Revista de Girona, (324), 100-100.
Perera, M. (2016). Duende y alma. Tendencias del mercado del arte, (95), 60-62.
Sangrà, L. (2017) Lita Cabellut: un inici trist i molts cops de sort. L’Ara, 24.