Painting Joy: The Art and Life of Fernando Llort
Story Tree Prints (2022)
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (01/2023)
Rich culture, sorrowful history, and renewed faith in mankind are found in the life of the late artist Fernando Llort. The title of his bibliography by Teddi Ahrens is accurate, “Painting Joy” encompasses Llort’s life in San Salvador and La Palma (from 1949 to 2018) as he works through discovering himself as a person, as a citizen during bad times, as a family man, and as an artist.
Ahren’s account of Llort’s life begins when he was a child and already aware of his love for drawing and art, being accepted at this point by his parents. Throughout the years, his knowledge and desire for art intensified, yet his parents’ approval of being an artist as a profession became stricter. Llort found himself studying architecture in America, similar to his siblings. One thing that doesn’t change among people of any generation is the hunger to figure out themselves as both an individual and their role in society. Llort went through some trials and errors to reach the point in his life when he could say he was happy internally and externally; his happiness brought about a change and affected those in his community as well as others, such as those in government and church leaders. Sometimes, to make a change for the better, you’ve got to ruffle some feathers.
Reading “Painting Joy” fills the heart and soul with happiness; the positivity is infectious to the reader’s mood. Llort is an inspiration for readers who may not have their life figured out but might have an idea of an interest or passion that they want to run with; there is still hope and a potential future!
Unfortunately, it is almost uncommon to hear of people who help others purely from the kindness of their heart and do not expect something in return; Llort was the poster child for this attitude and someone worth copying. Llort’s life is easily imagined by readers, partly due to the flow of words provided by Ahrens. The length of the book might be considered short by some, but it includes all the essential happenings in both the smaller picture in Llort’s life and the bigger picture around the world.
Ahrens does well to share Llort’s life and happenings with the readers while incorporating his artwork of paintings, sculptures, and murals and explaining the symbolism incorporated into the pieces for readers who don’t have the right “eye” for deeper meanings. Five stars!