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John Nava: Large-scale Portraits

February 5 through February 28, 1986

Western Gallery is pleased to present a group of paintings, draw­ings and etchings by California artist John Nava. The paintings in this exhibition are essential John Nava images - images created from direct observation with a love of drawing, light and surface. These paintings contain the many elements we have come to recognize in his paintings; the human figure, archi­tectural references and chairs are set among taped, gridded and repeated images on monochro­matic, flat, collaged surfaces, playing with illusion and reality, system and process.

Many of the paintings Nava has shown in the past several years are beautifully rendered figures in a somewhat arbitrary setting, close to the surface of the picture plane. About these works Nava says, "I try to make pictures which underline the totally artificial and, in fact, fragmented means by which an image is built. I love the fact that as these collaged surfaces and marks come together we immediately assign all sorts of emotional and historical meaning to the work. By keeping the illusions fragmentary and 'unfinished' not only is the invis­ible process of vision made visible but the 'signs' used remain present in our consciousness as well as the destination (the subject references) the same signs point to."

This current exhibition presents several large paintings and some of the studies that relate specifically to these very personal portraits, and reveal how the artist has con­ structed these images. In this group of works the artist continues to pursue his fascination with classi­cally rendered figures in that "immediate" space, bathed in clear light.

The depiction of the human figure has been central to the art of John Nava for the past 20 years . About this he states, "I wish to paint the figure without the appearance of derangement, without the appear­ ance of historical naivete, and with­ out  the appearance of a child's innocence. Rather I want to frame my astonishment and obsession with the figure within the full context of the accumulated language of painting."

John Nava studied with the late Howard Warshaw at the University of California at Santa Barbara and did his graduate studies in Florence, Italy. His work has been shown throughout California and he is represented by Koplin Gallery in Los Angeles. He has held several teaching positions; currently he is on the faculty of California State Uni­versity at San Bernardino.

Mr. Nava will present an illus­trated lecture on the development of his work. Time and location to be announced.

 

John Nava