The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía presents one of the most preeminent Venezuelan artists, whose work and character are determined by the construction of an artistic identity based on the notion of the “noble savage”, in the first half of the century, Armando Reverón (Caracas, 1889-1954). Once he completes his academic education, Reverón travels to Barcelona and Madrid, in 1911, and a few years later to Paris, where his interest is not in the transgression of language and the academic representation of the Cubist avant-garde, but in retracing Post-impressionism and landscape painting based on principles of light. Upon returning to Caracas his alienation from artistic circles results in his voluntary withdrawal to the margins of civic and social centres and from 1923 onwards his farm-studio in Macuto becomes the setting for his painting.
Alfredo Boulton divides Reverón's work into three periods: Blue (1919-1924), White (1924-1934) and Sepia (1935-1954), dominated and differentiated not only by pigment, but also by stylistic and technical changes. The sense of completion found in the first period, seen in works such as La cueva (1920) and Los baños de Macuto (1921), progressively fades to the rendering of details dominated by a heightened sense of light, as in Uveros (1927) and Cocoteros (1931), in which he uses blunt wooden brushes to apply colour. Boulton states how the: “Freedom of technical and pictorial interpretation signifies the start of a separation from the past of the figurative and realist conception of image (Cocoteros, 1944).”
Reverón is a painter akin to the French artists Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard because of both his themes (portraits, groups of bathers, landscapes, seascapes) and his vocabulary. Relevant criticism maintains his arrival at the same conclusions and pictorial outcomes as both those artists, reflected in works such as Juanita en traje de baño rojo (1933) and Figura con abanico (1947), without him ever knowing their work. By the same token, the development of the theme of the “Maja” (woman) and the recovery of expression in his brush strokes at the end of the thirties, visible in the Dama con mantilla (1939), enable art criticism to allude to elements of Goya's work running through his painting.
The two nervous breakdowns he suffers in 1936 and 1945 heighten his existing extravagant social attitudes and, after being unable to find any models, he turns to making dolls and mannequins. This last period features diverse wicker figurines Esqueleto and paper masks that denote a shift towards children's art and naïve art
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