At the recent Chinese launch of steinway & sons spirio — the world’s finest player piano — Steinway Artist and world-class virtuoso Lang Lang was presented with a gift from steinway & sons: an original painting by Spanish artist Yago Hortal. Commissioned specially for Lang Lang, the painting, SP118 (2016), features a bold swathe of color snaking across the canvas, greens and yellows giving way to pink, aqua, and ultimately a dark blue that splatters into black. Hortal has worked with Steinway in the past. Another painting of his, KF3 (2010), has been used for various spirio promotional materials.
Music lay at the heart of this collaboration. “I need music to work,” Hortal tells Steinway. The painter plays music constantly in his studio, where he usually works on multiple paintings at the same time, using different types of music to mold his emotional state. “When I’m tired I tend to play very powerful music to get me active. Less frequently it’s the other way around, and I’ll use music to amplify feelings I already have.”
I think classical music is probably the most energetic and powerful music that exists, more so than any electronic genres.
Hortal’s paintings are all about these emotions, and the moments they exist in — capturing and preserving a physical signature. One can see this in the flow and dynamism of his work. “What matters to me is that the rhythm of each brushstroke can be reflected in a single gesture … each brushstroke acting as a reflection of the moment it was made. That’s why all my paintings are also a kind of personal diary.”
In the case of KF3, Hortal recalls living in Berlin: “It was a brand new city for me, an inspiring new environment...my painting became faster, colorful, and explosive.” He describes the painting for Lang Lang as a more mature work, one that captures the vibrancy of his life now and the excitement leading up to a show currently running in Salzburg.