The strength and beauty of words

por valeriamidena em April 11, 2011

Xenon on Berlin’s Matthäikirche, 2001 © Jenny Holzer

Born in Ohio in 1950, Jenny Holzer is an artist who, over the past three decades, has been consolidating a beautiful and impressive work in the visual arts. In spite of her flirting with the abstract arts at the beginning of her career in the late 70’s, when she moved to New York, Holzer chose the word as the driving force of her work, and began to use non-conventional media such as billboards, LED panels and lighting projections to convey both dimensions that make up a word: form and content.

The texts used have different origins: many of them are her own writings, others are internationally known poems, others are even extracted from governmental documents. But Holzer uses this diversity to work in a single line, which speaks of universal values and establishes counterpoints that deeply touch us all: the public and the private, the political body and the physical body, the universal and particular.

More impressive, however, is Holzer’s counterpoint between form and content: we see, at one time, sensitivity and strength, gigantism and fluidity, frailty and perennity – all with a plastic result of unarguable beauty.

It is impossible to stand indifferent when faced with one of Holzer’s pieces of artwork. The strength of her words beautifully invades our eyes, our minds and our souls.

To learn more:
“ProtectProtect”, Jenny Holzer Exhibition at Whitney Museum, NYC, 2009 (video)

Multiple choices

por valeriamidena em April 1, 2011


Sample books have been used since the sixteenth century as working tools for all areas of the decorative arts. With the purpose of experimentation, documentation, marketing or distribution, they are endowed with refined beauty since it offers countless possibilities of colors, shapes, forms or textures, and provide the perception of variety – and by doing so in an orderly fashion, they allow understanding and pleasure. (Quoting Montesquieu: “It does not suffice it to show many things to the soul: we must do it in order, to be able to remember what we saw and begin to imagine what we will see; the soul thus rejoices for its extent and its ability to penetrate”.)

On this theme, in 2008 the Cooper-Hewitt Museum held a wonderful exhibition called “Multiple Choices – From Sample to Product”. The samples ranged from sales catalogs with replica buttons of the French industry of the eighteenth century to tiles resembling the porcelain colors of Sèvres, to the latest Pantone® Guides notebooks, books and objects of unparalleled beauty, capable of filling our eyes and taking our breath away.

The contact with such universe of colors, shapes and their infinite associations results in a sensory experience able to provide our soul with different and infinite pleasures. A beautiful example is the PantoneHotel, inaugurated almost a year ago in Brussels. By inviting people to “experience Brussels through the lens of colors”, the hotel assigned to each of its seven floors different color palettes, thus aiming to provide its guests with different sensations – and therefore, different pleasures.

The planet blue on the sun road

por valeriamidena em February 28, 2011

This is the title of an acoustic show that Milton Nascimento performed at the Cultura Astistica Theater, in São Paulo in October 1991. Only three performances resulted in a CD under the same name, unfortunately too little known by the public and, today, off the shelves in Brazil (it can be found at

Milton always favored the interpretation of his own songs. Here, in contrast, he performs as an interpreter, singing and playing (guitar, piano and accordion) songs of other composers – only four out of the 11 songs in the CD were written by him. And in this surprise lies a huge enchantment.

Milton’s singing transcends all expectations. A musician with unique sensitivity and a clear voice, his interpretations are both passionate and exciting. With a firm identity on the essence of each song, he, through the filter of his emotion, reveals such essence in a surprising and overwhelming way. And in his voice, we listen to once familiar songs as if they were new songs.

Milton sings not only his voice – above all, he sings his soul. And every word sung by this soul touches our souls with rare delicacy. Milton has the exact measure of the pleasure every song can and must provide to people.

For a taste of it: Hello Goodbye (Lennon & McCartney)


por valeriamidena em February 28, 2011

‘A cidade enfeitiçada’ (‘The bewitched city’) was the first song by Paulo Gusmao I ever heard. And such was my delight – by the title (so inspiring!), the composition and his arrangement – that I decided to immediately search information on this composer I didn’t know.

The song title baptizes the CD – and no less inspiring are the titles of other songs in it: ‘Flor de outono’ (‘Autumn Flower’), ‘O brilho do vagalume’ (‘The firefly’s glow‘), ‘Sua silhueta sutil’ (‘Its subtle silhouette’)… not to mention ‘Romance em Vila Humaitá’ (‘Romance in Vila Humaitá’), gently broken into three acts.

The album’s 15 songs captivate, enchant and thrill. Melodies and harmonies reach our ears lightly and gently, seeming to float. Arrangements establish subtle dialogues among the accordion, the flute, the guitar and other instruments, creating an atmosphere that exudes grace and elegance. You can’t get enough of it.

‘A cidade enfeitiçada’ (‘The bewitched city’) is indeed bewitching. High quality Brazilian and contemporary instrumental music, touching the ear with sweetness, the soul with beauty, and fills us with pleasure.

Enjoy it at

The borders of design

por valeriamidena em February 25, 2011

Olive Street nº1 :: byHenzel

There are objects that, even if produced with high technology, according to a specific project and on an industrial scale, are displayed before our eyes with the power of artwork, unique and manufactured. They take on a “subject” role before the observer rather than mere “objects”, surprising for their originality, touching for their unique beauty and tempting for the ability to subvert existing standards. These objects drive us out of our comfort zones and demand from us a new perspective and a new reflection on what we thought we knew.

The rugs created by Henzel Studio are like this – they question, test and transcend boundaries that often persist between design (in this case, interior) and art. The starting point is a fresh look at this object, so familiar (?) to all of us… And the result is invariably stunning.

There is no doubt that, without technical excellence and high quality materials, it would be impossible to materialize in wool traits and colors that seem to have come out of paintings, graffiti and watercolors. But if these rugs speak to our soul, it’s because behind the technical excellence and quality materials, another soul is released to them, willing to turn them into a new medium of expression. To do so, it questioned the conventions, overthrew patterns, uses and purposes, and thus redefined not only a new world of colors, images and treatments for this object, but also the relationship we establish with it.

Restlessness, nonconformism and passion are key tools to open our minds and our hearts, allowing us to break free to the new. And our soul needs the new – (re)discovering shapes, colors, uses and relationships, we can create and enjoy, every day, new sources of beauty and pleasure.

To learn more:

Paint or dye, but love me

por valeriamidena em February 17, 2011

Paint or dye but love me is the title of this beautiful conceptual project developed in 2008 by John Nouanesing, a young product designer who lives in France. Contrary to what one might imagine, the visual tension created by shapes that seem to be in constant ‘suspension’, and by the vibration of a very intense red, makes it a great pleasure to observe this artwork.

John Nouanesing seems to always have the same three guiding principles in his creative process: observation, innovation and irreverence. It is curious to see how each of his conceptual projects is able to tell us a story, making us see clearly the conceptual path traveled, from the very first insight to the final result.

These results are not always so beautiful – and not always effectively achievable. But it’s always a delight to see these objects and the entertaining titles assigned to them by John Nouanesing.

Learn more at

Why Chanel

por valeriamidena em February 13, 2011

Photo :: Gabrielle Chanel

Read the rest of this entry »


por valeriamidena em February 6, 2011

One of the images that represent ​​freedom the most is the image of someone barefoot. In addition to conveying a certain form of irreverence and non-adherence to established standards, walking without shoes is indeed an act capable of providing very pleasurable sensations of physical well-being, comfort and relaxation. The explanations are countless, ranging from mystical to scientific ones.

Our feet are complex structures, full of nerve endings that connect through ramifications to the various organs of the body, to the spine, to the head, and to the upper and lower limbs. The practice of caring for the body by touching and stimulating these endings is called reflexology and has been used in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Walking barefoot, especially on uneven surfaces (sand, small rocks, grass), massages different points of the foot and stimulates different parts of the body, promoting the proper functioning of the body and stimulating our ability to concentrate, our motor skills and balance.

Others say that, by walking barefoot on moist soil, we unload on the ground the excess of static electricity accumulated in our bodies, thereby obtaining a sense of relaxation. The most mystic ones say that walking barefoot increases the flow of our vital energy (or our Chi, Qi, Prana, Baraka or Orenda, among other synonyms), through the direct contact with the Earth, one of its natural sources – and the pleasure we feel would be provided by the reestablishment of this connection with the natural universe where we belong.

Discussing and investigating the sources of our pleasures often represents solely the identification of such sources so we can expand the space they occupy in our lives. Their origins or the decoding of their processes do not always matter… but it is important to be aware of its manifestations, ensuring that they remain alive and present in our everyday life. (I personally like to make sure I walk barefoot for a few minutes of my day – thus giving myself, in a very simple way, moments of great pleasure.)

The candles burn all the way

por valeriamidena em February 4, 2011

Sándor Márai :: illustration by Ignácio Schiefelbein

“A person ages slowly: first, our taste for life and people gets old, and then everything becomes so real, we get to know the meaning of things, everything is repeated so terrible and fastidiously. This is also old age. When you know that a body is not more than a body. And a man, poor man, is nothing more than a man, a mortal being, no matter what he does…

Then your body gets old; but not the whole body at the same time – first the eyes, or the legs; the stomach, or the heart. This is how a person ages, little by little. Then, suddenly, the soul begins to age: because no matter how weak and decrepit the body is, the soul is still filled with desires and memories, seeks and delights itself, wishes pleasure. And when this desire for pleasure ends, nothing remains but memories, or vanity; and this is when you get old for real, fatal and ultimately.

One day you wake up and rub your eyes: you no longer know why you woke up. You know exactly what the day brings you: spring or winter, the usual scenarios, the time, the order of life. Nothing unexpected can happen: not even that which is unexpected surprises you, nor the unusual or awful, because you know the odds, you have it all figured out, you no longer expect anything, neither good nor evil… and that’s just old age.”

I find this small excerpt from the book “The candles burn all the way” by Sandor Márai (Ed. Dom Quixote, Portugal, 2001) very touching for the sensitivity when describing the loss of the soul’s pleasures to aging and death. A Hungarian man, Márai self-exiled in 1948, unhappy with the communist regime in his country, and lived in Switzerland, Italy and France before settling in San Diego (where, at the age of 89, committed suicide). His writings often depict the decay of the bourgeoisie in his country, always with an eye turned to man’s major emotional issues: love, passion, life, pain, decay and death.

You will find pleasure in reading ‘De verdade’ (For real), ‘As Brasas’ (The Hot Coals), ‘Divórcio em Buda’ (Divorce in Buddha) and ‘Libertação’ (Freedom), all published in Brazil by Editora Companhia das Letras.

David Trubridge

por valeriamidena em February 3, 2011

Coral lamp :: David Trubridge

I first saw David Trubridge’s Coral Lamp at Soho’s DWR in NYC, about two years ago. From classics of the 20th century to contemporary pieces created by talented yet little known artists, the furniture and objects found in these U.S. chain stores are always very well selected, grabbing everyone’s attention for their beauty and elegance, and sometimes – like in this case – also for their innovation.

The lamp was placed in a more intimate atmosphere at the back of the store, and the effect of light and shadows created by its full and empty traits was overwhelming. I was also touched by the counterpoint there seemed to be in the essence of that object: how is it possible to obtain a result as delicate and organic from the assembly of a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are all identical, rationally designed and industrially (re)produced?

A quick search on the designer has shed some light on this question: majored in naval architecture in England, lived on a boat for 5 years and then began designing furniture; his wirk uses wood from sustainable plantations and his projects seek to obtain maximum effect from minimum material; in addition, David believes in durability as a key attribute of good design and in art as a driving force of human development.

Upon learning this story, I could understand that the pleasure I felt by observing this lamp had not only elapsed from the appreciation of its beautiful shapes or visual effects, but also from the perception of its soul. I believe that the soul, when present in things, talks directly with ours – and this conversation encompasses the reasons for tastes and pleasures we are capable of feeling.

To learn more: