Fantasy, 1958

Leonardo Nierman Mendelejis

Fantasy, 1958
polished metal
Collection of the University of Miami
Gift of Paul and Libby Yelin
Location: Frost School of Music

University of Miami Collection

I believe that the artist, in his peak of creation, makes a kind of homage to God, to the beauty of nature and to the miracle of being alive. — Leonardo Nierman 

Born in Mexico City in 1932, Leonardo Nierman Mendelejis (known as Leonardo Nierman) aspired to be a professional violist when he was a child. So great was this desire that Nierman devoted twenty years of his early life to studying music both privately and at Mexico’s National Conservatory of Music. Despite his love of, and affinity for, music, Nierman ended up studying physics and mathematics and, later, earned his MA in Business Administration from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. It was while he was enrolled in Business School that Nierman, a wholly self-taught artist, began to paint. Eventually, his artistic repertoire grew to encompass not only painting but also sculpture, tapestry, glasswork, and engraving. Whatever his expressive medium, all of Nierman’s works reflect his deep interest in music, Nature, and the Cosmos.

While Nierman uses vibrant colors in his paintings, Fantasy, like many of his sculpture, is finished in mirrored silver. Placed in an outdoor setting, the luminous sculpture reflects it surroundings; a visual sleight of hand that adds dimensionality to the work’s twisting form. It also reflects viewers as they stand before it; a vantage point that allows one to enjoy the play of reflected light on Fantasy’s surface. Influenced by the Abstract and Surrealist movements, Nierman’s lyrical sculpture resembles a bird about to take flight. Two sweeping “wings” extend far beyond the sculpture’s pedestal, their aerodynamic curves frozen in space. The work’s “body” is similarly animated and brims with energy and movement. A soaring and triumphant form, Fantasy, which was generously donated by Paul and Libby Yellin, is—appropriately enough—installed near the Frost School of Music.

Student Works Inspired By Fantasy, 1958

Michael Martinaitis

Leonardo Neiman's sculpture Fantasy(1958) can best be described by a Lowe Art Museum instagram post on the artwork. "Placed in an outdoor setting, the luminous sculpture reflects its surroundings; a visual sleight of hand that adds dimensionality to the work’s twisting form". When composing music for the sculpture, I wanted to express not only the sculpture itself, but how it reflects and warps the space and nature around it.

The first step in this process was to record sounds from the space around the sculpture, to do this, I sat outside in the courtyard where the artwork resides, and used my iphone to record the ambient noise from the space. Most of what was recorded were sounds from air ventilation, doors being opened and closed, and people talking. I also recorded bird sounds from nearby trees. Since the sculpture is curved, the reflections appear warped. To represent this, I used a couple of digital manipulation techniques to warp the sounds. I used a granular synthesizer to change the ambient noise into a toned, noisy instrument. I then added an intense modulated delay to the bird noises. These two sounds open the piece.

To represent the statue itself, I used bass guitar and two software synthesizers. The booming, resonant bass chords represent the granite pillar on which the sculpture sits on. I then used a chord pad and an arpeggiator to represent the metallic centerpiece. The arpeggiator is bright with shimmering high frequencies. This captures the luminous reflections of the sun reflecting off the metal. The sculpture does not have a clearly defined shape and almost seems as though that it is moving, but frozen in time. I used a randomized note arpeggiator effect to generate random notes within a chord. This captures the fluid moving shapelessness of the sculpture.

According to the Lowe Art Museum instagram post, "all of Nierman’s works reflect his deep interest in music, Nature, and the Cosmos." For this composition, I decided to focus more on timber and soundscape rather than melody. I believe that this gives the music a more meditative and spiritual experience.

Fantasy, 1958