“I do not look at modern art as a linear experience, continually in competition with itself, devouring itself – a game for popular society to play. I rather believe in an art that layers time upon time, an art that simply reaffirms our presence and the depth of our existence on this earth In this respect I see my art as simply a current link in a chain to those who have preceded me I simply want to be a part of a continuous resonance. ” – Nathan Oliveira The smoky, obscured atmospheres in most of Oliveira’s work add to their sense of mystery.Order now
And, as always, the identities of the objects in the pieces are withheld. By presenting fragments of what might be tribal artifacts and relics such as amulets, vessels, and tools, or abstractions of human figure within empty spaces, Oliveira seems to be asking his viewers to engage in an imaginative excavation and reconstruction of his compositions. His work may convey anything between preciousness and fragility to utter brokenness, but we can only guess at what exactly lies within these illustrations.
I admire the way in which Oliveira treats his subject matter, but especially admire his ability as an artist to stretch himself to create in various mediums and scales, as well. Through his work I’ve learned to never confuse size with importance. The intensity of expression in some of his relatively smaller works compete, if not trump, the impression of some of his larger paintings without sacrificing simplicity – a true testament to his fertile imagination and undeniable ability to impact through composition versus size alone.
The paintings accrue many layers of meaning as the series to each project evolve from his small predatorial bird paintings to his larger works that almost resonate with the curvature of our very world. I think the motivating idea behind these portraits, especially those involving birds, imply a sense of freedom – in Oliveira’s case, artistic freedom and, maybe a bit of a stretch, but also the liberation of the viewer’s imagination. Throughout his life and his work, I’m led to believe he experienced an intimate relationship with nature.
Though usually preoccupied with exploring the human figure, the painter also turned to animals and wide landscapes for subject matter. He was fond of birds, horses, heavily abstracted oceanscapes and especially the land of his ancestors, Portugal. These images, like all the others from Oliveira’s imagination, carry rich associations and depth from his experiences. With this said, Oliveira pulls muse from several cultures and landscapes, never limiting himself to one region or subject. Much of his work appears dark and less formalistic in technique, but the emotional, dramatic meaning of human experience is central throughout his portfolio.
He continues to search for an identity within his art, something I carry in my own work, but simultaneously evokes dialogue with the viewer. He reassures this idea when he says, “No longer should you paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. There must be living beings who breathe and feel and love and suffer. I would paint such pictures in a cycle. People would then understand the sacredness of themselves and take off their hats as if they were in church. ” Thus, I feel Oliveira’s lifetime work of exploring in his painting the solitary human figure should be seen as such, an exploration.