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 Denarvaezs
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.