The July 27th date of Argentinean painter Sebastian Spreng’s opening has been much anticipated by those of us at Mill Fine Art. Spreng grew up on the Argentine countryside, the Atlantic Coast, and in Buenos Aires before moving to Miami in 1987, where he has since become a permanent fixture in the vibrant city’s art scene. His exhibitions have appeared in Boston, Seattle, Panamá, Munich, Osaka, Buenos Aires, Miami, among other places. A self-taught painter deemed a minimalist by many of his reviewers, his work quite often revisits seascapes, musical themes, looming color fields, and isolated figures.
On a hot, luxurious night in Miami, Spreng can probably be found bent over a small canvas on a flat table as Wagner fills the room – and the canvas. Ever since he toured the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires as a boy, Spreng has loved classical music; when he is not painting, he is writing as a correspondent for the glossy Buenos Aires music magazine Clásica, which has allowed him to be “in contact with another world” of intellectual exchange and imagination. His artwork has appeared on countless Florida Philharmonic Orchestra Playbills as many of his paintings carry music themes and titles, including Liederkreis, Wagner’s Ring, Sinfonietta, and Impromptus. According to art critic Jan Batet, Spreng has the unique ability to create “in the pictorial space a feeling of cycle or evolution,” though, unlike the developments in a musical score, a painting occurs in a set time. It is with this ability that Spreng freely moves between genres, truly multicultural.
Confined to a wheelchair due to a condition of muscular dystrophy, Spreng created a “swimmer’s” series between 1979 and 1999, with paintings consisting of atmospheric landscapes met by an expanse of ocean in which a solitary swimmer glides. The swimmer is alone but the mood is not lonely; the protagonist seems in charge of his domain, free to be alone. Spreng has acknowledged that these swimmers were references to the freedom his own body could not achieve, except in water. “Only when pressed will he talk about his disability,” but that hasn’t kept him from acknowledging the influence it has had on his art. In 1994, he was commissioned for a permanent exhibit at the Dade Government Center in tribute to “Americans with Disabilities Trailblazers.”
Spreng’s paintings are charged with both the landscapes of his youth and a vivid interior world. The Pampas’ oceans of wheat, the “strange, oneiric” summer nights of Miami – each can be found backlighting a solitary tree, a dark figure, or a winding road. When he moved to Miami, the light was “brutal,” and it took him many years to “experience” it instead of painting the sea from a distance. On his influences, Spreng notes “from classical music to just silence and the music within that silence. From the brightest colors to the darkness and the light within that darkness, great people and great artists are a source of inspiration always.”
The exhibit, which will also show work by Carol Gove, will run from July 27 to Aug. 27 at Mill Fine Art. We hope to see you at the opening reception.
- Susan on Music Within Silence: The Minimalist Paintings of Sebastian Spreng
- Hector Carosso on Music Within Silence: The Minimalist Paintings of Sebastian Spreng
- Rosa Mary Lerner on Music Within Silence: The Minimalist Paintings of Sebastian Spreng
- Jeanette Koumjian on Culmination
- Joan Russell on So, what’s happening with the Santa Fe “art system”?