Refer this article as: Rodriguez Villazon, C., The power of light: iridescence, Points de Vue, International Review of Ophthalmic Optics, N71, Autumn 2014
The power of light: iridescence
The artist’s eyes need light. Light inspires artists. Points de Vue asked a talented Spanish artist, Catalina Rodriguez, to contribute to the “Prevention” project. She created a painting for us entitled Iridescence, and now shares with us her very insightful comments about the sense of prevention.
Points de Vue: We need light to see, to live, to create... How does light inspire your eyes, your work?
Catalina Rodriguez: Light is everything. Light and the absence of light have inspired artistic creation since the dawn of humanity. For me, it’s the key, and I’m obsessed with it. All the people I look up to and my sources of inspiration for my photography and painting are great masters of light and colour. It has the power to transform everything, from a feeling to the way you perceive things.
What came to mind first when we mentioned “prevention” and harmful light?
The first thing I thought of was glasses, sun glasses. Then I thought of diseases associated with photosensitivity; one of my friends is a low vision specialist, while another suffered from severe photophobia when her bone marrow transplant was rejected. I researched the specific harmful effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation and blue light, and I started to recognise the importance of prevention. So, although I initially thought about drawing closed or damaged, irritated eyes, with cataracts, I finally settled on reflecting the fundamental role played by prevention in a positive manner, through colour.
Artist Catalina Rodriguez in her studio, working on the creation of the project “Prevention” for Points de Vue.
How did you take up this challenge?
I have been short-sighted since I was ten. I have also had astigmatism for the past six years. So I have always been aware that poor eyesight limits your ability to perform a whole range of everyday activities, which of course includes art. So I approached this challenge with a great deal of enthusiasm. As I began to familiarise myself with the importance of prevention when it comes to ultraviolet/blue light, my interest in the topic grew. For example, I only knew about the effects of the ultraviolet spectrum wavelength, not those related to blue light. I also found the differences between the two types of blue light interesting, as well as their relationship to circadian rhythms.
How far do you think painters should take care of their eye health?
As much as possible. When it comes to painting, vision has nothing to do with sight, and art very often does not reproduce what is visible. However, if you are able to maintain a good quality of sight, you will have a better tool to help develop your creations. For me, the eyes are the diamonds of the body. As William Blake said, “The eye altering, alters all”.
copyright Essilor 2014
What do you want to convey with your works?
As I mentioned earlier, when Points de Vue contacted me to ask if I wanted to take part in their new project, I took prevention and the protection of visual health as a starting point and focused on closed eyes and the potential harmful consequences of failing to take preventive measures. As I began to learn more and talk to people, I realised that we generally know very little about how to effectively look after our visual health, and that it is actually relatively “easy” to protect our eyes. That’s where the works came from, and I hope that through them I can do my bit to help spread the message of how important it is to learn about and take responsibility for preserving the sense that people value most: sight. This is exactly what I have tried to represent in the work El poder de la luz (Light Power).
The background shows UV light and blue-violet light, and in the centre is a hand, holding up glasses to ward off the direct attack from the harmful light. It’s a direct, straightforward message: the full spectrum of light cannot be seen, only the light from which we need to protect ourselves, continuously and immediately.
So protection is the key to the work?
The act of protecting oneself is shown to be voluntary, possible and achievable. I wanted the work to have an impact, as well as for the final aesthetic result to be attractive, beautiful. I want people to look at it and wonder what it means, to ask questions and learn about the topic and how to avoid the risks. I think there are so many beautiful things around us that we simply must not miss out on. (And whether we miss out on them or not is down to us!)
I also didn’t want to forget about the eye itself, so in the next work, Iridiscencia (Iridescence), I wanted to go straight to the most attractive and characteristic part: the iris. Its main function is to help control the amount of light that enters the eye. The etymological origin of the term is the Greek word iris, which means light. It is also the name of the goddess Iris in Greek mythology: the personification of the rainbow and the messenger of the gods, who always left a trail of bright colours in her wake. Each iris has its own unique colour code, and the combinations are quite magical. Inspired by all this, I drew irises of various colours and arranged them into a collage. I want it to convey happiness and the importance of seeing as well as possible the importance of light and different shades of colour in our lives.
Interviewed by Laura de Yñigo.