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Arturo Denarvaez Gallery Biography  



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LatinoAmerica Online :: May 6, 2003


Boreal Book Cover

Book Cover for Boreal Publishers


Intangible energies interacting with each other, struggling to break free, or to stay free: whether he is painting human beings, animals, or clouds, this is the dynamic underlying Arturo Denarvaez’s work. Forms swirl as if in a wild dance, or a ritual, or a combat, painted in deep, warm colors that heighten feelings of primeval forces emerging from a dark unknown.


“Liaisons” is the theme of this series of Arturo Denarvaez's work. Protagonists are abstract strange beasts, bulls, horses, or matadors acting with great energy and passion. Love, hatred, lust, violent kiss, fight, happiness, rest, death, hunt, ardent desire and enigmatic face to face are expressed with the impetuousness and warmth of the artist's Colombian origins. The deep and warm colours as well as the strength of the movements give to Denarvaez's works a striking force and unusual beauty.

Fabienne Robin

“The Heart is a Solitary Hunter”. The title of the famous novel written by Carson McCullers seems to describe Arturo Denarvaez perfectly. In his search for his artistics personality and personal equilibrium he has always been a "loner". For instance, although from childhood he has always destined himself to be an artist and expressed himself mainly through drawing and painting, he decided to by-pass formal training at the Bogota School of Fine Arts. To "find" himself, he decided to leave his native country, Colombia, and go alone to Paris, symbol in his eyes of artistic and personal liberty. The right to liberty and a firm denunciation of cruelty are the two principle themes of Denarvaez's work.

But being free is a situation fraught with danger and which must always be defended.

Therefore, in the two themes which reoccur most frequently in his art, animals (especially, the horse) and human beings (mainly in the form of nudes), the subjects are often wounded or mutilated. Man and beast are often decapitated or reduced to mere carcasses.

His treatment of the themes varies with his stylistic evolution. The nudes in the 1991 series "The Witnesses" seem to float on the surface of the paintings like ghosts come to haunt a universal conscience. Those of the 1994 series seem to struggle to escape from the heavy environment of thick paint and swirling brush strokes.

Animal and humans are often combined in the artist's works. They can become one as in the 1984 "Centaurs" paintings. They can be associated to perform heroic deeds as shown in the "Saint George" series of 1988 and 1989. They can also be in mortal combat. This is the subject of the works presently shown. Phantom bulls and matadors confront each other. The figures, although charged with energy seem suspended in an unreal and twilight world. Both man and beast are fighting for their lives. However, the subjects and objects found in other Denarvaez's paintings may shed a different light on the current works. The "Skulls" of 1990, the mirrors present in some of the 1993 "Nudes" (humans stripped of all their earthly trappings) are all "Vanities". Perhaps, therefore, it is not life which is so important but something more profound, its very essence, in this case liberty. Perhaps the combat is derisive even vain, it is nevertheless truly essential. The pursuit of liberty must be continued and the cruelty of those who oppose it must be denounced. The works of Arturo Denarvaez do this with force and beauty.

Caroline Denjoy