Horizons of Light: still-life painter Jaime Manrique Palacín wins rave reviews for a ‘very sexy’ novel
By James Brewer
Spanish painter Jaime Manrique Palacín is hugely respected for his series of gorgeous still life canvases in which bowls and vases overflow with strawberries, cherries, peaches and other luscious fruit. Now he is about to become known for his colourful writing which his admirers say tops in quality the multi-million selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey in its sensual charge.
At a private launch in London for his romance Horizons of Light, an audience heard that his verbal pallet is profuse with vivid shades in terms of amatory adventure. Jaime had no intention of taking as a template the provocative and much publicised novel by EL James: “I read that book after I wrote mine, ” he told guests gathered in the Hugh Casson Room of the Royal Academy of Arts.
In a half-hour presentation full of humour and of insight into the worlds of writers and artists, Horizons of Light was endorsed by Lady Colin Campbell, known in the literary sphere as Georgie Campbell, who is a friend of Jaime. Georgie Campbell is an author whose books include three – perhaps the best known being a revelatory biography of Diana Princess of Wales – about the Royal Family.
Ahead of a book signing, Georgie Campbell and Jaime Manrique sat at a table together behind neatly-stacked copies, in front of the invited assembly. Georgie opened proceedings by declaring that Jaime was a wonderful author whose book was “unbelievably naughty, as well as very well written and very witty. Very funny, very moving, very sexy: you are definitely not in the mood for Horlicks after this book, ” she sallied.
Horizons of Light is centred on a character named Enrique. One night in the summer of 1964 in Santa Maria de los Ríos [a fictional location imagined to be near the northern Spanish city of Burgos] he decides to change his life by migrating to the United States. He loses his wife and children, and becomes immersed in the intriguing and fascinating world of Hollywood. He fights for “an impossible love” with all his soul, says the blurb.
Georgie offered her own synopsis: she said that the book was about a young man who gets caught out by the oldest trick in the book. He has an honour marriage, or as we say in English, a shotgun marriage.
Rather than make a speech, Jaime invited questions – which he relished – and Georgie set the ball rolling. She questioned whether “before Enrique [hero of the book] was Enrique, he was Jaime.” The author: “That is what everybody thinks, but it is not true.”
He was asked from the floor: How do you separate writing from painting? “The extraordinary thing is that I do the two things at the same time, ” said Jaime. “While I am painting, I write things in a notebook next to me.” As to the future, will one or the other discipline dominate his creative life? “I hope I can do both at the same level.”
It was revealed that he has written half a dozen books, and this is the first to be published. “I have been writing for quite a few years, and never thought I was going to publish.”
Was he inspired by any particular author? “Not really, no. I write by hand first then dictate to the computer.”
Which is more of a challenge, a blank canvas or a blank page? “They are very much the same. You have to have the idea first.”
Georgie added that people who did not write for a living did not realise that “there is no such thing as a blank canvas or page. When you arrive at a canvas or page, you are already ready to deliver the goods. If you are ‘dry, ’ you do not get to the point of sitting down in front of your computer.” She offered a great piece of advice for would-be authors: in writing a book “you need to surprise yourself, and then once you surprise yourself, the reader is engaged, and you have a page-turner.”
One critic in Spain has described Horizons of Light as “an irresistible novel, with passionate rhythms reminiscent of the masters of classic cinema.”
Jaime Manrique Palacín was born in the province of Burgos, where the opening pages of his novel are set. Painting came naturally to him as a child, and later during four years in Madrid, he was enthused to take up a professional career by works he viewed in the great galleries, especially the Museo del Prado.
He studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, and divided his time between that city and the southern Spanish resort of Marbella as his career took off, chalking up a dozen solo exhibitions and many group shows, and selling to private collectors in many countries.
In 1995, he was invited to represent his home country by exhibiting paintings during Spanish Week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Georgie Campbell compared Jaime as a painter, to Raphael or Titian.
Among his salient skills at the easel is his thrillingly naturalistic reproduction of luminous glassware, ceramics and foliage.
Supporters of the author included antique dealer Kenneth Neame of Mount Street, London, and international art curator Diane Shiach.
Horizons of Light by Jaime Manrique-Palacín is from Book Guild Publishing ISBN 1910878294, 9781910878293www.bookguild.co.uk