Palm BeachGustavo Novoa: 50 Years of Exclusive Artist Representation
Findlay Galleries and Gustavo Novoa celebrate 50 Years of Exclusive Artist Representation with an exhibition of Novoa’s recent works at Findlay Galleries, Palm Beach. Novoa is a renowned Contemporary Primitive painter and children’s book author who has produced an impressive body of work that can be found around the globe in numerous esteemed collections.
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Novoa’s artistic career began in the early 1960s, where he made his debut painting the streets of Paris. After two successful shows in 1961 and 1962 sponsored by the Chilean Ambassador and the late Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, and showing in the Faubourg St. Honoré and Salon de la Jeune Peinture, Novoa made a move from Paris to New York.
After his first few years in New York, Novoa secured a successful partnership with Guy Burgos and Lady Sarah Churchill, which later led to the opening of the Burgos Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 1965. By then, his style had evolved into textured oils that the New York Times’ critic, Stuart Preston, said, “Novoa seeks to discover in his often fanciful landscapes, and still-lives is their identity; that special something that makes them unique.”
By the late 1960s, Novoa’s subjects had morphed into the soft jungle denizens that were to become his trademark. Novoa constructed a dream-like new jungle where the lions lay with zebras and butterflies parade around wildcats. The soft, radiant colors of Novoa’s luxuriant foliage seem to wield a mystical power, the power of bringing together: both predator and prey, both the strong and the meek.
Novoa became represented exclusively by Wally Findlay Galleries in the early 1970s. His one-man shows in New York, Paris, Palm Beach, and Beverly Hills established him as a champion of the environment and wildlife conservation. His animals were primitive and painted in lush and colorful backgrounds. In 1977, he published his book, Jungle Fables, a collection of rhymes on “vice and virtue” that gave a new dimension to his animals, making them more anthropomorphic and philosophical.
In 1981, His show, “The Grand Tour,” sent his animals prowling the world’s major cities, from the Spanish Steps in Rome to the Left Bank in Paris, through the Great Pyramids, and back to Park Avenue in New York. It was perhaps the most surrealistic of Novoa’s shows. In the mid-eighties, Miami’s Preservation League commissioned him to create the cover of the Art-Deco weekend program; he created a group of Deco Architecture paintings, and his painting ‘Dreamline- Streamline’ became the theme of the event. In 1988, Prince Charles of England set a new record for Novoa’s sales by auctioning one of his paintings at a benefit sale in Palm Beach. In 1991, Novoa was received at the White House by Mrs. George Bush. Miami’s Art Deco District had chosen Novoa’s painting, “The Carlyle Hotel”, to be presented to the First Lady, which was hung in the President’s Library.
In 1997, Novoa released another book titled Paradise Found, a retrospective based on his work over the past three decades. Findlay Galleries acknowledged this accomplishment with a series of exhibitions and book signings in New York and Palm Beach. In 2010, Findlay Galleries celebrated a 35 year retrospective of Novoa’s work at the New York gallery. Findlay Galleries hosted a private preview reception in support of Panthera – an organization whose mission is to save the world’s wild cat species and their habitats.
Today, Gustavo Novoa continues to deliver his brightly colored canvases filled with whimsy and wit. Findlay Galleries is proud to be celebrating 50 years of exclusive representation with Gustavo Novoa, An artist who continues to impress and re-imagine, thus surprising his collectors and always intriguing his extensive audience.
I consider Primitive painting an innocent or rather “unschooled” style of painting. You paint because you are motivated to do so and because your friends tell you that you are talented. If you can get away with it, you can be a primitive painter for the rest of your life. In my case, “schooling” was life itself, and through traveling, I found that I became more educated and sophisticated, even bon vivant at times. Nevertheless, my jungle always followed me at a prudent distance. But even then, they could not resist evolving from jungle animals to the “characters” they have become today.
I have a fascination with kaleidoscopes and the way in which they fragment and multiply images. I am fascinated with how the light becomes divided by a prism and how a room becomes filled with rainbow specks. Truly inspired by this, I strived to capture these special effects onto my canvases. To do so, I conceive areas of contrasting colors along with geometric arches, their combination results into my own “homemade” form of OP-Art.
In the late eighties, after the early years of compromising with the rigid laws of nature, I started to ease my way into surrealism. I finally set my menagerie free to explore the worlds of illusions, dreams, legends, and science fiction. I allowed them to transcend their physical boundary and challenge reality to experience the impossible. When they crossed that imaginary line in the sand I realized this was what they needed all along. From then on, it became even more challenging to return to the world we call reality.
Poetic & Published
I desired to allow the animals within my paintings to communicate not only with themselves but with the viewer as well. Rather than being limited to expressing themselves through their posing, demeanor, and the quality within their eyes, I wanted them to talk. Sooner than I ever expected, the animals were finally able to strike a conversation with the viewer in my poetry book, “Jungle Fables.” Unfortunately, the publishers and editors tended to have more of a voice in communicating with the viewer in my other more biographical publications like “Paradise Found” and “Paradise Revisited.” Nevertheless, the animals reinstated their voices and continue to speak freely and without restraint within my paintings where they are free to roam.
Black & White
Over the years I became aware of the growing inclination towards minimalism in contemporary art; moreover, I noticed an increased amount of photography on walls and the monochrome palette in which it was often executed. An inclination to create my own notion of such concepts became the focus of the B&W series. I decided to limit myself to the use of only two tubes of paint: black and white and forgoing the use of color to create particular effects. It was an unexpectedly complex endeavor, being limited to black and white caused the creation of contrast to be a crucial challenge. After working in the series I gained a real appreciation for all fifty shades of gray!
To me life as an artist was like going to the gym: “no pain, no gain”, that suffering which can only be conquered through devotion and discipline, was the path to achievement and creation. After the years of my youth in which I often took myself much too seriously, I became aware of the whimsical and playful qualities that imbued all of my paintings. As the years went by and I grew more confident, so did my menagerie. My creations and I understood that rumors weren’t taboo and being observed by others had its own power, it was an intriguing way of life. So, at this point, one can accuse my cats of turning the tables and ‘observing the observers’ with amused tolerance, and if I know my viewers, so do they I am sure…
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)