The introductory essay in the catalogue for Naturalezas vivas, the exhibition of works by the Venezuelan artist José Antonio Dávila (b. 1935), is a valuable document written by Antonio Arráiz (b. 1947). This review presents a new way of seeing Dávila’s work through the observations made by the poet and art critic, who enthusiastically describes everything he sees. When he talks about the artist’s earlier work, prior to the 1985 series, Arráiz discusses what the work represents: modern man’s place in the world in terms of the machine and society, and the transformation of reality related to his inner world and memory. Arráiz mentions the artist’s technique and photographic precision, focused on defining man’s place in the world.
Arráiz notes that, in the 1980s, Dávila’s painting evolved in response to his interest in matters of technique and the complex world he depicted in his oil paintings. He thus links him to early twentieth-century artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, seventeenth-century Spanish artists such as Francisco de Zurbarán, and seventeenth-century Flemish painters when he talks about still life painting and what it symbolizes. In his essay Arráiz stresses Dávila’s technical artistic skill and ability to convey a message via the (universal and personal) symbols in this works.
This very complete document provides great insight into Dávila’s work, and assigns him a definite place in the history of twentieth-century Venezuelan painting.