Gabriel Alvarez

Visual Artist

Graciela Marotta.
Significants rituals

Gabriel Álvarez, is above all an artist, an artist with a good handling of technique, that enjoys creating a work of art form matter....Read more

His works emerges from the inside to the outside of the surface, from matter, towards shape and colour that are part of it, because is the support of the speech made from a single incision from which the primitive drawing is created, in the primal sense of the artists and his surroundings.
Álvarez giving meanings that are apparently simple, creates a complex world between the visual text and the context of his life, in a series of images where he expresses his ideas, tastes, as his complaints for space and time.
Gabriel works deeply and obsessively in his works and does the same while he teaches, analyses or researches.
This declared worker of paintings is also a great teacher in his academic life. An excellent trainer of future artists and a worrying investigator with the capability of his experience to the investigation of other great artists.
Today in Arcimboldo we see some of his great works in the last 20 years, works with a base of sand and plaster that discover his work, coloured with identity concepts, Latin-American, from day-to-day to urban, something that stands outs form the character of his works, resulting in the great meaning his paintings show.

Julio Sapollnik, 2006

Gabriel Alvarez paints with organized passion; every character he draws has the territory they need to impart their own freedom....Read more

Many of his paintings are characterized for a profusion almost obsessive of the little compartment, where a figure or a sign give as a result a grid that, in some paintings, divides the surface into more than a hundred pieces. The usage of this compositional structure has become an obsession that, thanks to art, becomes in the continuity of the aesthetics by which is characterized. This organization applied over a simple material empowers its meaning. Gabriel Alvarez works with sand on top of the painting cloth that is then sanded it down. That is how he builds the support, as a bricklayer raising a wall, going from thick to thin plaster in successive layers of colour. The graffito, done with ends of different thicknesses, he scrapes the surface until he reaches in many cases, a graduation of midtones that emerges between the layers of plaster. This especial mortar optimally attracts due to the delicate resolution of texture. At the same time, he applies complementary shades to achieve intuitive attention over the colour of light. The line of his works is clear and implies a particular care of the synthesis achieved.
Gabriel Alvarez develops the sports topic encouraging a reflexion that comes from the feelings and passion that football originates. The masculine universe is represented by football supporters and their love for the football shirt. The different colours refer to the desire of belonging to a society in where is possible to live together despite differences. The characters are attached to each other by their childish face. With their hope still intact, their open their eyes and encourage each other to start living the moment where their dreams begin. This kids usually play in improvised football fields, which is characteristic of poor neighbourhoods, being extremely loyal followers of their team, supporting it no matter the circumstances, awaiting the magical encounter with the football ball, changes in rhythm, the dribbles, the legs as if possessed, the revealing of their free foot. Like a pagan cult that Sunday after Sunday celebrates with passion, that is how the football becomes an entertainment ritual and imparts itself as the new planetary religion that gathers multitudes together. But Álvarez well knows that football can perfectly complement with art. In face of this brilliant move, the aesthetics of football manages to sensitise millions of persons through art. For the artist, this is the best match, for the beholder is an original way to enter the culture of massive expression.

Norah Longo
The face of skin

“The artist does not work in reconstructing an anecdote, but in making a pictorial event”  Maurice Merleau Ponty
...Read more

How many times have we wonder: is this the real face of skin? Is its external, epidermis, apparent, superficial and tangible side? Or is its internal side, deep dermis, labile, unprotected, holding and elastic?
The face of the skin, title of the exhibition, refers to inferiority and to interchangeable exteriority and the eternal reversibility, suggesting as an intention, to look into that hesitation, in the indiscretion and fragility of the fold, in those manifestations between SKIN / CANVAS.
Or maybe, in that impossibility of determining its effective and/or true side, reveal by countless wounds that damage the creative process, they build up and show infinite possibilities of expression.
A compressed, invisible, subjective and visual world that sweats through its metaphorical membrane of the creative process, coming and going over folds and the permeability of the support, with a close relationship between inside and outside.
Also, it talks about the corporeality of the organ, skin is a resource at stake, shown layer by layer, brushstroke by brushstroke, creating the support… Skin
Gabriel Álvarez, in this opportunity, presents a number of his paintings, different between them but all showing the same dominance of his style. The exteriority that this images evoke come from the vision from which we are spectators of the symbolic symbols of the four elements, species, men, feeling and the universe.
The sgraffito, as texture, turns the matter of the work into torn skin, externality, intentional abrasion between consciousness and experience, between the body and things, between desire and illusion. The weave, somehow hidden, shows itself through metaphysics where the treatment of matter is deliberate
The painting is used in successive extended layers, to later be adjusted in thickness and chromaticism, accomplishing successive tangible volumes.
Rough matter, cracked skin as a hatched memory, from infinitesimal and illegible facts of the human transcendence, pure and unmasked.
From the warp of this matter alternative universes emerge, labyrinths, incorporeal atmospheres, as if the pictorial matter would dictate slightly hinted arguments, figurative elements that are nothing more than the sensible presence in a timeless space. Many times, loving symbols are waiting for a mayor involvement.
Thick magma made form fish, sun, moons, men and illusion, all in a mixture without any differentiation almost in a rudimentary state, they all beat together, in the canvases as a piece of poetry without any allusions, which implies a possible freedom.
This impression is fed by colour, offering warm, soft and naked air… a fold of conscious serenity. There is soothing a resting vision of suspended relief, bringing closer an imaginary where the eye gradually gets used to the art of poetics.
The artist invites us to think about:
The face of skin, is not a side or the other, is chiasm, a place of encounter and exchange, not a juxtaposition, but an illuminating knot. Is transition and connection between interior scenery and the exterior universe, is an original and experiential world. Is the reversibility between the sighted and visible, is the obverse and reverse.
It will be the spectator´s task to put together perception and fiction in this mysterious exchange between real and imaginary and its correlation between interior and exterior. So the spectator can then wander in a space of eternal composition, that does not end in cloth/skin, the contrary, the work will only be the beginning of looking back or a way to start sensing differently.

Avatars in paintings
There are exceptional days, those of few where the calendar contradicts logic and routine. There are days where is not allowed to stop the speed of time and challenge everyday life. ...Read more

This ´other time´ exists, the one of the timeless and celebratory pause, where masks and costumes transfigure our existence.
Popular celebrations are the cultural heritage that perpetuates and revitalizes ethnic diversity. The hole community forgetting their social and racial categories, they regroup in the celebrations. But, they are also a symbolic construction which puts in evidence beliefs, myths, imaginaries, identities, mixtures and complexities
America knows very well those stipulations and Gabriel Álvarez shows them effectively in his works
Because his paintings, transformed into ceremonial spaces that exteriorize exactly what in the celebration is plentiful, opposing elements, complementary, the affirmation of values and subversion, chaos and order, breakpoint and regeneration.
The combinations of works in this series invites us, with delicacy and creativity, to a journey that gathers makes up for the imposed stories and local traditions. It invites to path through Latin America as the continent of deep colours, mass memory and magical realism.
We are offered a kaleidoscopic vision, which curtain is the diversity of cultures, that far from being represented from monolithic view, are transformed into a dynamic dialogue. The works that address this topic from crossroads, from the demonstrations that appear in the crossings, in the syncretism. Even in some cases, as the acts of counter-conquest, the symbolic resistance in its condition of possibility
Latticework is still a constant Gabriel Álvarez´s work, is the structural principle to install a complex system almost pictographic, from which he expresses and recreates beings, objects and actions providing them with life. He also appeals to some sort of ideograph that evoke and suggest qualities or attributes from the figurative objects
This systematic order which provokes the perception in my works, far from being a mere representation, it produces the belief unto to magic-religious world; from the experiences and practices that treasure the rescue of oral mores. Reconquer the sense of fete and rituals, updating their uses and customs in society.
The matter is carefully selected as an expressive mean, worked section by section, nothing is free to possibility. Even the smallest gesture, ominously noticeable, is expressed with absolute introspection.

The bovine´s presence in the human culture is millennial. This is accounted for in countless representations and myths, But, in the American Continent, the bell and the bullfighting were only introduced after the Spanish Conquest. From then on, dances and rituals go with different demonstrations and tales, which are very common all through Latin America.
One of the themes chosen for this series of painting was the Bull of Pucará, which they stablish as objects very present and representative of Santiago de Pupuja´s pottery, especially in the commercial circuit of Pucará, Puno. This selection, taken as an archaeological and anthropological trace, modernizes the knowledge about the Andeane cosmology and its re-interpretation of the colonization. According to oral tradition tales, apus – sacred divinities – made them guardians of the lagoon that, since then, is the dwelling of the bulls ´It’s said that they were born when the rainbow torn its colours and from those bowels the bull emerged, representing abundance and good fortune
Formerly, the inhabitants of this region sculpted in clay small basins with the shape of camelids used in ritual ceremonies associated with cults for protection and reproduction. After the shock that this foreign, powerful and wild bull caused, dome investigations point out that the bulls could have been elaborated as a replacement during the campaign extirpación de idolatrías (removal of venerations), specially the illas and conopas. Thence, its association with version of the Indian Kondori with illatoro. This being form the Andean world view, as son from deities, lived in the interior of lakes or hills. Sometimes, they wore golden chains in their necks, or they were bulls of fire, later associated with wealth and fertility.
After the conquest and as a result of syncretism, the figure of this animal renews itself in the magical-religious thought, linking it to the catholic festival of Holy Trinity and pagan rituals of cattle marking and payment to the Earth. Nowadays, the bull is introduced in local customs as bearers of prosperity, happiness and protection.
The popular tradition usually puts a number of bulls in the top of houses roofs to protect their owners. Gabriel Alvarez diminishes the brutality of the bull, with its jaw wide open and restless tongue, liking the blood dripping from its nostrils. In his paintings, the bull is far from that ferocity. The blood is not in its mouth, but in its body, maybe an injured bull. The wild eyes of the beast give us protection. We are touched by the colours, revaluing the search for simplicity in the ritual, emphasising the importance of love and bonds. The way the artist deals with matter and texture, with a delicate and bright finishing touch, it takes us back to the traditional pottery world.

In some other works of art, Gabriel Álvarez presents the dance of Bull of Petate, named after the material, which was originally constructed. This figure is intimately link to the carnival of Michoacán State, but it can also stand by in other religious festivals. The fundament of the presence of the bull in this celebration is comparable to a devil, seductive, pagan and provocative, that freely intrudes within other inhabitants during Carnival Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday.
Carnival takes shape as a mixture of symbols. From its remote origins in las Bacchanals, Lupercal, Saturnalia, Matronly or Dionysian ritual, up to now, represents a time establish to destroy the prior order. A period to demystify the world, from permission and transgression. The fest of lust, of laughter, parody and grotesque. The freed body takes part in the most obscured temptation. The mask celebrates chaos, expresses chaos to then regenerate itself into a new order. In his works, Gabriel, confronts the importance of the bulls. Pucará, represented as benefactors and protectors of homes; and Petate, that personifies sins, lust and devils.
Some versions recognize that mestizos, Indians and other linage, as they were not able to access to fiestas bravas organised by Spanish, they parody this spectacle by creating this bull from a wooden shell, and then covering it with Petate (strips of palm leaves). What is more, the bull is related with the legacy of African slaves that arrived during the XVII century. For them, the figure of the bull was related with de African buffalo, considered by Bantu as a worshiped immortal ancestor, seen as a bearer of human´s spirit and vital force.
This dance is transformed in a polysemic construction, where different traditions enriched its practise until its understanding changed. Combine with drama and storytelling becomes a statement of different practises of social actors from a past that easily renews the regional culture.
The ceremony exhibits the Bull of Petate enraged, monumental, lavishly decorated, walking passionately around the streets, simulating a running and can even clash another bulls built for the occasion. The courtship is accompanied by a procession, troupe and orchestra. Some of the characters that take part on the event are maringuía: which is a man disguised as a woman whose function is to accompany the bull, el corporal: is who provokes the bull to dance and el apache: in black and with a red skirt, intimidates the audience to make way for the entourage. The festival ends on Carnival Tuesday, by giving death to the bull and handing out its bowels in a symbolic way, which are nothing more than food that the inhabitants consume. But the bull, undying, will soon be reborn and a new order will take place.

The devil appears in many celebrations in America, even though this figure was originally introduced by Catholicism, it reappears in our continent as a possible reinterpretation of ancient deities, linked with Indian shamanism and ancient and secret African societies. Showing, once more, how conflict and tension lay in exchange and structure of culture. Gabriel introduces the theme bringing back the Dances of Yare, as a belonging part of the celebrations of the Corpus Christi in San Francisco of Yare, State of Miranda, Venezuela. The Holy Societies belong to a fraternity join in the feeling that link their traditions in the historical imaginary.
The central designation of religious expression, from the XVII century, is the surrender of the devil before the Holy Sacrament take pleasure in the ancient triumph of right over wrong.
The masked devils, dance with rejoicing in the streets, to the rhythm of music that emerges from snare drums. By using masks it allows them to be someone else, but it does not hide, it reveals a playful metamorphosis re-establishes order, devotion and accomplishment of promises. This re-appropriation falls into ambiguity, in the sense that wrong, as prohibition and darkness is not easily eradicated, but its recognised and fits in as a part of our lives.
The participant of the dance feed the belief that in that day, the devil “walks loose” and can possess who embodies it. For this reason, they protect them themselves with charms, crosses and coloured cloths saw to their clothing, they can also wear a rosary and other accessories belonging to different religions.
Generally dressed in red, they have a hierarchical order, represented in the masks by the number of horns they wear. The number varies, from four to two, being the last two of lower range, called Promeseros, that have to pay for a religious promise to become devils.
The women are banned from taking place in this ritual publicly, so they participate in it privately form their homes. They do not wear masks, nor dance and have the function of accompanying, paying close attention and on the service for the devil and kids. In this works, Gabriel, alters the feminine role, transforming them into suggestive and voluptuous women, threatening and vengeful devils, symbols of omnipresent of carnival lust. The ceremony ends at sunset, when the ringing of the church´s bells gather the Diablada, that defeated and submissive kneels down in front of the church´s door to receive a blessing.
Gabriel Álvarez, through this series of works, opens a world leading us without objection not pause back to our silence. Determined to hinder our imprisonment, he obstructs our indifference. He introduces us in lasting beliefs by an iconography that gathers forms of socialization and production of knowledge collected from ancestral sources, mixtures and forms of symbolic resistance. This is the spectacle for American antonomasia, the celebration of the spirit. And as in the quote from Luis Millones Santagadea.
´Fests are that, space, sound, colour and souls in understanding´.