“Village & Church in Catalonia, Spain” by José Vives-Atsara oil, 16" x 20"
When I look at this landscape painted by Vives-Atsara, I cannot help but to reflect upon the painter’s personal history and the many obstacles he overcame in order to reach his goal of living in the United States. The artist, originally from Catalonia, fought in the Spanish Civil War and was eventually taken as a prisoner of war. In the book, “José Vives-Atsara: His Life and His Art” by Nancy Glass West he reflects upon that time in his life. He shares an account of the train ride to the internment camp where he was held. The conditions during the trip were horrendous. He was forced into a boxcar with sixty or seventy men for the five days it would take to reach the camp. Vives-Atsara describes men crammed on top of one other, with only a small opening at the top of the boxcar. He was pushed to the floor and unable to move. He survived on sardines and oil from the can. Despite the deplorable conditions and the desperate times, the artist remained hopeful, saying, “I saw men during those five days who just gave up. I never thought I was going to die. I brainwashed myself to believe everything would work out. When you depress yourself, see things only from the negative side, you are lost. It is amazing what the human body can stand. Somehow, in a crisis, you manage to multiply yourself.” Eventually, with the help of his father, he was released and reassigned to Franco’s army. After some time he was allowed to go home, a place he had not seen in a very long time. When I look at “Village & Church in Catalonia, Spain” I can’t help but envision the artist, or other countrymen like him, after a long journey skulking through the night, risking everything to see their families. They are tired and weary, but overcome with joy by the familiar sight and the pathway home.
Quote: “José Vives-Atsara His Life and His Art”, Nancy Glass West, page 20.
©Gina Martinez, Art Consultant, J.R. Mooney Galleries, Boerne,TX
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