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Exhibition of recent abstract bold constellations by Ricardo Chavarria opens at The El Paso Museum of Art
Installation view at the El Paso Museum of Art.

EL PASO, TX.- The El Paso Museum of Art presents an exhibition of recent abstract bold constellations by Ricardo Chavarria. Curated by EPMA Senior Curator, Dr. Patrick Shaw Cable, Ricardo Chavarria: 41, 47, 50–53, 59, 60, 61 is free to the public and on view from 23 February to 29 June 2014 in the EPMA Gateway Gallery. The paintings emanate color, light, magnetism—appearing to pulse with energy radiating, dissipating, becoming reabsorbed. Simply titled with numbers denoting their production sequence, the captivating compositions find inspiration in sand mandalas of Eastern origin as well as Western color field painting of the mid-twentieth century. Chavarria’s work combines the transcendental presence of these antique and modern traditions with twentieth-first-century LED-like color and uniform surfaces that resemble industrial rubber or artificial skins.

The artist begins at the center, working outward to lay down a graphite matrix crystallized from the concentric circle and the grid. He then returns to the point of origin, allowing chance and evolution to suggest colors as he applies his uniquely viscous acrylics through plastic dental syringes and squeeze bottles. Chavarria utilizes a limited number of fundamental colors (blue, violet, red, white, black, sometimes yellow), yet the various tints, hues, and juxtapositions create powerful effects of design and optical illusion.

Born in El Paso in 1980, Chavarria lived in Brooklyn, New York, from 1999 to 2009, whereupon he returned to the Southwest. After studying at The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona, he began his career as a sound and recording engineer at The Knitting Factory in Manhattan. Since 2008 he has devoted himself exclusively to painting, and a little more than a year ago set up his studio in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Recent exhibitions include his first solo show in New York City in spring 2012 at The Proposition gallery, and participation in the Miami art fair CONTEXT in late 2013.

The canvases currently on view in El Paso date from 2012 to the present. They variously call to mind forms as diverse as the chunky 1980s stick men of Pop artist Keith Haring, the flattened emblematic figures of Pre-Columbian textiles, or Islamic configurations of the decorative arabesque. Notably, while Chavarria credits Tibetan Buddhist mandalas and color field painting by Mark Rothko as influences, he denies the spirituality central to both these sources, whether in relation to the time-intensive ritual of labor required to complete his works or in regard to their final effects. Instead he intends his paintings to engage the viewer directly on their own purely aesthetic terms; and undeniably, Chavarria’s vividly colored, optically dynamic, and magnetically charged creations assert their uncanny presence and pull us viewing participants into their magical realm.

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