As a professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and a working artist in the small city of Pahrump, Nevada, Jose Bellver has been a familiar face in the Las Vegas art scene since the 1970’s. This past week, the Spanish artist debuted his first Canadian solo exhibition, Scramble, at the well established, Christopher Cutts Gallery displaying his most recent works.
Upon entering the gallery, what is most striking about Bellver’s paintings is in the use of encaustic and glitter to create texture and depth. All of the works in this collection offer rich textures using a combination of melted beeswax and colour pigments constructed in a geometric-abstract composition. The colours and glitter used help bring objects to the foreground while pushing others back. At first glance, the warm sunset like colours and soft melted texture paired with the hint of sparkle remind you of the hot climate and the glitz and glam that Las Vegas offers, but it becomes clear after a closer look, that Bellver’s work is about much more than just a mere representation of his hometown.
Bellver as a painter has a devoted awareness to colour, texture, and value. A further examination of the works assembled for Scramble, shows his sensibility to light, depth, and value as he plays with different textures and mediums that reflect light. In the piece, Kim 2012, Bellver pairs reflective colours and glitter against muted, non-reflective colours to create conversations between the forms. This is akin to his past group of works in 2010-2011 where he experimented with light and value using metallic pigment undertones.
Furthermore, Bellver’s geometric-abstract composition in his most recent works refers back to Abstract Expressionism during the 1940’s and 50’s. He has created the ultimate simplicity, void of all narrative and symbolism by using only geometric shapes to compose his paintings. Bellver believes that geometric shapes are primitive and the fundamental property of all things; removed of any meaning or emotion. This allows the focus to be primarily set on the paint medium and the painting process itself, nothing else. This is even more evident in Bellver’s Rothko-like paintings during 2006-2008, which show fields of colour in rectangular forms that reinforce the simplicity in geometric shapes while creating conversations between colour, value, and form. The fields of complementing gradients of illuminating colours force the forms to weave in and out of darkness, creating depth and value. In Green on Red, 2008, three stripes of vibrant green and red is painted in a gradient technique with black used to recede parts of the painting, creating waves of illuminating colour moving in and out of the painting.
Jose Bellver, Kim, 2012, encaustic and glitter on wood, 62"x48"