Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Music is what happens between the notes." Duke Ellington

Evidently, this is one of Nathan Oliveira's favorite remarks. At left is Man Walking (1958). According to biographer and curator Peter Selz, Oliveira has never been interested in creating narratives in his work, preferring to explore the figure more obliquely:

I do not look at modern art as a linear experience, continually in competition with itself, devouring itself - a game for popular sociaty to play. I rather believe in an art that layers time upon time, an art that simply reaffirms our presence and the depth of our existence on this earth, our planet in the universe. (Nathan Oliveira, Univ. of CA Press, p. 9)

I've been doing a lot of creating and destroying of layers, etc. with my work, and I tell you, it's really hard to settle on the right amount of presence and delineation of a figure or object. Somehow he seems to get it just right. Here's Spring Nude (1962):

Others have pointed out the echo of Munch's work, Puberty.

There are those hunched shoulders, but Oliveira's has a whole different feeling of expansiveness to the space around her, a she herself is more of a cipher with undelineated features. What do you think?

One of his teachers early in his career was Max Beckmann. Can you imagine? Here's
Oliveira is still alive and making prints at 81 years old. Here's Red Rocker (2005)from the website of DC Moore Gallery:

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