Jose Navarro Vives:  Atmospheres

José Navarro Vives embodies European painting tradition.  Born in Castelsarrasin, in a mountainous region of southwestern France and raised in Barcelona, along the sparkling Mediterranean, Navarro Vives’ work captures the spirit of both regions through its palette and subject matter.  His early work in glass further informs his work, with its diffused color and moody edges. 

Living in Italy as well as stints in Paris and London, where Navarro was involved with architectural restoration, added an additional element of European citizenry to his paintings.  Each new direction seems to have evolved from the grandeur of many previous golden eras.  His Porte series from the 1960s seem to take their inspiration from the massive architecture of earlier centuries.   His still lives evoke the monumentality of Spanish 17th century still life painting.  Richly saturated, sculptural landscapes reminiscent of Tuscany dominated his work in the 1990s, when he first began exhibiting at Craighead-Green Gallery in Dallas, Texas. 

As with centuries of artists before him, Venice serves as Navarro Vives’ current muse.  Its warm light suffuses his newer work, each redolent with a sfumato associated with Venice’s Golden Age.  However, these atmospheric jewels shimmer beyond the 16th century and into our own.  Work that moves backwards and forwards in time, asks more questions than it answers.  Far removed from Navarro Vives’ thick impasto of his earlier works, here the air itself becomes the subject.  Ethereal lightness envelops distant structures, almost as a veil shrouding memory.  Water and air have become one, allowing structures to float in time and place.  His lush palette creates a moodiness allowing us to make out forms in the distant landscapes and far away past.  No longer recognizable as structures, rather they capture the essence of architectural fragments:  portals, steeples and buildings.

In this series, dreams have become reality and reality has finally achieved the lightness of being.

Nancy Cohen Israel

Dallas, Texas

August, 2005