Frederico Vigil’s Prelude to a Monument
Full-size sketches illuminate fresco master’s process
A fresco isn’t like a painting. You can’t just pencil out a few shapes, squeeze some acrylic out of a tube and get going. You certainly don’t freehand it. Creating a masterpiece like Frederico Vigil’s 4000-square-foot fresco in the Torreón at the National Hispanic Cultural Center requires undertaking a complex series of well-timed steps. How complex? Your guess is as good as mine, but tomorrow, Aug. 31, you can learn about the fresco process from an acknowledged master of the medium and view seven of his full-size fresco cartoons at the closing reception for “Cartones del Torreón: Full Scale Drawings for the Torreón at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.”
Along the concave wall of the Torreón, Vigil’s monumental work depicts 3 millennia of Hispanic history in buon fresco, or “true” fresco, in which pigments are suspended in water and applied directly onto wet lime plaster. A skilled artist must work quickly and precisely; the color becomes one with the plaster as it dries, making buon fresco an especially vivid and durable medium. (Rome, you know, still has some nice ones from the 13th century.) As tools for planning and composition, cartoons are a vital stage of the fresco process. In addition, they act as stencils so the artist’s lines can be transferred accurately to the freshly laid plaster.
These seven cartoons by Vigil for the Torreón fresco, unseen by the public before this exhibition, are startling artworks in their own right. Make tracks to the North Valley for your last chance to see them at Nahalat Shalom Art Gallery (3606 Rio Grande NW) from 5 to 7pm.