Los Angeles

Roberto Chavez

Ceeje Gallery

Chavez is one of a new group of Banditos who trained at U.C.L.A. and who would rob you of your reason to place it as just offering before the warm altar of the Virgin. He is a spiritual expressionist plain and simple, denying every subtle gesture, every naughty sophistication, in favor of an honest appraisal of himself and his environment. The clumsy brush and faulty color only enhance his naive vision.

Though these are subject paintings that sometimes plod, sometimes dance, through Mexican allegories, floral arrangements, portraits, and ruinous landscapes, the real subject is Chavez. The exhibition is an environment; different and more meaningful than those of New York because it is not self-conscious. His world is a poor-rich world made up of paint-flaked chairs, hand painted bottles, candles, broken toys, patterned linoleum floors, urine-stained diapers, sagging clothes lines, runny-nosed children, hardboard walls, fractured mirrors, artificial fruit and basic food. It is a fragmentary, hodgepodge world held together with safety pins, human affection, and fresh cut flowers. Chavez is protector of it all, as can be seen in his family portrait which makes one ignore his grand mustache and concentrate upon his doe-soft eyes. Many of the statements are not accomplished and there is ample room for growth, but in “Vivian,” which presents a docile child wearing a hat of such scale and elegance that one imagines the crown of a princess to nestle inside, he reaches his objective. Probably, one should not make analogies between rough beginnings and master works, but the final evocation is akin to Picasso’s pre-cubist works such as “Family of Saltimbanques.”

Henry T. Hopkins