Abstractions of Jose Vives-Atsara
Turbulent Times of 1959 transforms One Artist’s Work
From the uphill battle for immigration reform in Arizona to the national climate on illegal entry; one that can or cannot support job growth, we are inundated with daily reminders of this population problem.
This is not a new story, headline, or government headache. From the flux of Cuban immigrates to the Bracero (Workers) Program (1949-1964), the U.S. saw a large push of new international populations grace its shores in 1959.
While, internationally the Dalai Lama was fleeing to Lhasa with a large population of Tibetans, The Cuban Revolution was flexing its muscles, displacing thousands during such times, Hawaii and Alaska join the United States of America surging its national census.
1959 was also a monumental year for one international artist striving to call San Antonio home- - Jose Vives-Atsara. Born April 30, 1919 in Vilafranca del Penedes, near Barcelona, Spain, his artwork is collected internationally. Highlights of his artistic career include a city of San Antonio initiated gift to the Pope John Paul II for the Vatican presented by Archbishop Patrick Flores in 1987 to painted contributions within the art collection of Juan Carlos, King of Spain.
Returning to Spain in 1958, the Vives-Atsara family grew homesick for the life they had in the U.S. In March 1959 Jose Vives-petioned for re-entry to the U.S. as a locally supported and sponsored artist which was approved and forwarded to the American Consulate at Barcelona; with he and his family returning to San Antonio July 20th.
In Oct. 1959, Vives-Atsara gained a position as visiting lecturer at Incarnate Word College.
“Vives-Atsara remembered that a San Antonio immigration official advised him to obtain a teaching position in order to become a permanent United States resident. The immigration service would view his employment by a college as evidence of his economic independence and his cultural value to San Antonio and the nation”, writes Nancy Glass West in Jose Vives-Atsara, His Life and His Art.
To see inside the artist’s mind, you see a world turned upside-down –international relocation, new job, new house, etc. etc. Now think about how your outlook, inspirations, muses, and art would change if you experienced such stressful changes. Not to be pigeon-holed, Jose Vives-Atsara was already known for his still-lifes, portraits, landscapes, and wildflowers, but he began to paint a series of abstract landscapes with his signature 11 color palette; a choice one might think was reflective of the chaos of such personal upheavals and distresses.
Abstract Landscape by Vives-Atasara illustrates this new exploration of intellectual abstraction. Closing in on the rocky pathway like some overgrown Tim Burton landscape, the trees line the gauntlet, creating a foreboding effect on top of artistic mystification. Adding to the mystery is the fact we do not know if Vives-Atsara is painting the Guadalupe River, the Texas Hill Country, the Spanish countryside, or the various seascapes that captured his attention.
“My using a palette knife, a spatula, happened accidently. The professors that taught me always used brushes. I experimented with the spatula and I like the result; it added improved texture and spontaneity to my paintings. An artist must be educated in the standard techniques of painting, but there is no substitute for his personal daily experience and his mistakes”, says Vives-Atsara.
With quick whips with the palette knife Vives-Atsara cuts into the paint, creating cactus needle-like textural accents in select areas. Red, orange, blue and yellow swatches of color dance across the composition. We begin to see the piecemeal landscape scene as our eyes digest the familiar outlines; trees, rocks, and path.
©Gabriel Diego Delgado/ J.R. Mooney Galleries
J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art currently has a collection of 5 abstract landscapes and village scenes available for purchase.