The work of Roberto Jaurez contains nothing that is extraneous to the
art of painting. It bristles with a combination of glowing depths and
fresh, imaginative line. A super abundance of beaded spirals, wavy triangles
and rectangles (sometimes flat sometimes three dimensional), beehive-like
clusters of hexagons, gelatinous pods, and wild circles can barely contain
itself. Transparent and opaque structures wrestle within the void.
Roberto Jaurez New Branch 2000
Mixed media, 78 x 78 inches
courtesy Robert Miller Gallery, New York
Not unlike de Kooning, Juarez jabs at surfaces and muscles the brush
around. Both artists have created brilliant but very different palimpsests.
We also find traces of the pinks and greens de Kooning used in his work
from the 1960s.
Jaurez's mixed media works on canvas are explorations of the processes
of drawing and looking. They are spontaneous and full of discovery,
the way blind contour drawings are. He successfully creates a complex
relationship between foreground and background, and is not interested
in rendering specific objects. Mondrian created an orderly urban tomorrow.
Juarez has given us his interpretation of the chaos of contemporary
life in the city. There are the faintest traces of recognizable objects,
but patterning and limber brushwork prevail. Geometric forms, triangles,
circles and rectangles, dominate many of the compositions, but they
are not hard edged. In fact many of the paintings are beautiful, aqueous
messes or rhythmical linear entanglements. Bryant Park Tiles, 2001,
is a busy surface built of drab olive greens, pungent crimsons and impure
whites, highlighted by pale yellow ochre and light tan. This chaotic
mass of rectangular forms and violent scribbles consists of a red orange
background, a grid-like tile pattern, with white-ish green slash marks
floating on top of it.
Viewing the mixed media freestanding works done on hinged panels (the
screens) is an awkward affair. It is difficult to determine how to read
the separate sides. Should one side be looked at before the other? Is
there a meaningful relationship between the two? I found myself trying
to remember what the side I could no longer see looked like. Traces
of architecture, giant archways and cross beams at odd angles, appear
in Humo One and Humo Two. Blue Structure, 2001, contains an exquisite
symphony of squares to make Hans Hofmann jealous from beyond the grave.
Both sides of Coin Circle, 2001, my favorite panel piece, are tributes
to geometric forms; hexagons and triangles. The patterning is intuitive
and the possible interpretations of the work are limitless. In the paintings
Kether Place, 2001, and Circulation, 2001, there is a perfect balance
between randomness and pattern. The monotypes (Nubes Uno, Dos and Tres)
are made up of overlapping pale colored circles. The overlapping circles
are like reptilian scales seen through a magnifying glass. Unfortunately
the colors in the monotypes are wan.
In the mixed media works one can see hints of scaffolding, ladders,
fire-escapes, honeycombs, the embossed patterns on sewer caps, rows
of windows. Faint charcoal drawing is everywhere, and is discernible
if one looks hard enough. Drips of pigment are sporadically placed.
Juarez uses geometric forms as a starting point and they become the
overarching theme. They also temper the expressionist brushwork. Each
piece in this show is filled with an abundance of ambiguous shapes.
The sketchy quality of the work only strengthens it. I sat Indian style
on the floor of the gallery staring at several of these paintings for
over an hour. I never grew bored and I appreciated different aspects
of the compositions as I scanned and rescanned them. I was overwhelmed
by the richness and vibrancy of Juarez's optical imagination.
ERIC GELBER IS A PAINTER AND CRITIC WHO LIVES IN QUEENS, NEW YORK.
HE IS PUBLISHED REGULARLY IN ARTCRITICAL AND HAS ALSO APPEARED IN ARTNET
AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS.
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