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Carlos Chavez Paintings

My Work Through the Eyes of Others

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Here are some thoughts on my work.

"Voyage Through Memories" by Millie Redinger

The work and the world of Carlos Chavez has always been, as he himself proclaims, "a voyage through memories." From its very inception, his genderless and ever-present beings, and the ubiquitous structures - which - at first were mostly cars, but which now include an innumerable profusion of structures, artifacts, and even somewhat ineffable and mysterious universes or mini-cosmos, were inspired by memories of his youth and early life.

For example, his extensive series of paintings of surrealistically transformed cars, on which his beings (or "muses of the car," as he preferred to call them at that point in time) are perpetually working or involved in silent dialogues and interactions with the cars and other machines, sprang from his recollections of a profoundly emotionally charged incident that took place while he was still very young. His father owned a red car which Carlos simply loved, and was many times entrusted with the chore of washing and ensuring that it was kept in clean and working condition. One day, after finishing cleaning the beloved and enticing object, Carlos gave free rein to his fantasy, and drove the would-be-immortalized red car for a short while, without his father's permission. When his misdeed was found out it provoked the outrage of his father, who punished him severely. The whole incident got so deeply embedded within Carlos1 sensitive being that since then he always dreamt of someday owning "a red car of his own." This inspired the beginning of his paintings of the series of transformed, and to a certain extent even humanized, red cars. The "muses" or beings that constantly interact with the cars, creating a mimetic relationship between being and machine have always through different pictorial manners represented Carlos himself.

Another ever-present element throughout all of Carlos1 work is his undimming love, not just for his native country, Peru, but particularly and most profoundly for Paijan - his birthplace. Many of the elements we constantly find, transformed in myriad ways throughout his work, are basic elements of the kind of architecture and common everyday objects which abound there. For example, the elongated, rather rectangular shapes we so often find are reminiscent of the wooden bars which constitute the basic fundamental structures of the small homes with "adobe" or clay floors. However, Chavez being a true master of nuance and aesthetic transformation, these and all the other elements which he introduces in his canvases time and time again, are never completely obvious to the observer, but remain always, somehow, as a kind of veiled presence. In point of fact, as a surrealist artist, which is his preferred mode of expressing his inner world, all of his paintings partake of this kind of mysterious and sometimes even paradoxical quality. I would at this point like to make the observation that Carlos Chavez'surrealism, although being quite intellectual like most artists within this modality, is never truly somber as most of them happen to be, but possesses a very special and unique whimsical quality about them, which I like to call, "Chavez' playful expressionism."

Throughout his extensive career we can observe how Chavez'paintings have become more and more elaborate. I tend to ascribe this, at least partly, to the environmental influences in the artist's surroundings themselves. When he was working in Peru we notice much more expansive spaces within his canvases, whereas since his relocation to this country, with its labyrinthine structures (like the subway, for example), its skyscrapers, the conglomeration of the architectural structures themselves, and the continuous congestion of city-life, we notice a marked increase in structures appearing in his paintings. Nevertheless, their quality remains unaltered, not only in his aesthetic perfection, but in its inherent essence as a product of Chavez'creative imagination. By means of the ethereal and subtle qualities that permeate his canvases, through the unique harmony of forms and colors that he employs, we com in contact with his world of mysterious places and beings, always involved in their enigmatic doing, in whose presence our very thoughts become crystallized, with in the revealing silence of their stare.

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