Curated by Robert Ross and Stephanie Sanchez
Roberto Chavez is a West Coast painter whose work is dynamic, soulful, painterly and accomplished. Roberto lived, painted and taught mainly in Los Angeles, but also on the North Coast of California in the Fort Bragg area during the 80s and 90s. He was a key figure among the artists who showed at the historic Ceeje Gallery in L.A., along with Eduardo Carrillo whose work was exhibited at SRJC in 2010. Chavez was influential among both his peers and younger artists during his tenure at East Los Angeles College. His work has been purchased by the Smithsonian Museum of American Art for its permanent collection, by the Autry Museum of the American West, and by many private collectors.
The Agrella Gallery exhibit is itself historic, comprising sixty remarkable paintings and drawings - the most significant public display of Chavez work ever. This exhibit demonstrates his comprehensive understanding of the history and intentions of art, and his devotion to a lifelong practice of drawing. He's absorbed the look and feel of the mixed neighborhood of his youth, and the objects, signs, scapes, and personae of Mexican, European, American and Japanese cultures. Chavez can render in many modes, from highly representational, to cartoon-like, to quick-brush impression, to geometric, to nearly or totally non-representational. But as the artist himself says, nobody is ever mistaken about what he's trying to draw or paint.
One of the most appealing features of his work is its immediacy. It's immediate in the sense that the pictures have a material vivacity and freshness. And the works have a genuine intimacy, the feeling that Chavez has an authentic relationship with his subject, that the picture manifests his heart as well as his eye. Even the sketchiest or least-elaborated portraits project a sense of compassion, for the sitter and for our species. This felt or 'soulful' aspect of his work is communicated instantly to the viewer. It is somehow, miraculously, transmitted through the sheer physical color-mixing and the brushwork and trial-and-error of picture-making. This is the miracle that distinguishes great art from skillful representation.
Roberto Chavez, Paintings and Drawings reveals a distinctive, unmistakably mature, and integrated pictorial language. The work itself is thoughtful, but it is not primarily mental: it is emotional, it is visual, and it is palpably physical. The Robert F. Agrella Gallery is pleased to invite the public to this provocative and inspiring presentation.
On the occasion of this important exhibit, a book has been published with 68 full color plates of Chavez work, most of them reproducing the pictures on display. Copies of this book will be available for purchase at the opening.