"Ugarte, a Venezuelan born in 1961, belongs to a new generation of painters

"Ugarte, a Venezuelan born in 1961, belongs to a new generation of painters that have been appearing on the local artistic scene since the beginning of the eighties. His latest exhibition is a series of landscapes with water appears as a theme proposing the fluid as a primordial element in the life of human beings and their physical environment. From this perspective it is an old theme. But what is so important about water in this young man's work? It is a resource used to explore an aesthetic treatment on the surface of the canvas and, at the same time, a significant element with connotations mysteriously left behing the surface to be discovered by the observer.

Water and the elements framing it (fragments of plants, of a pool, etc) is simultaneously object and subject. Let us depart from the importance of the pictorial surface. It is strongly active and dynamic. The vibrating, almost calligraphic, brush strokes express an implicit movement in the depths of the canvas and spirit. When the surface is more explicit on the level of images, the work reveals less in its interior.

Consequently, although it may not seem so, the spectator is not facing a cliché but the essence of that "place-landscape" that can be the bend of a river, a fragment of a pool, or anything else that attracted the attention of the artist. In this created situation the "place-landscape" acquires a profoundly intimate character which is almost a religious intimacy. Facing the work the viewer behaves like a "voyeur". It is the viewer that glimpses the domestic reality through the small orifice of a window and at the same time digs in his interior to see that which seems accessible but it is not, because it is a reflection of himself.

The mystery seems to be implicit in the vibrant blue color. The paintings tend to be monochromatic which is another apparently simple aspect.

Ugarte's recent paintings are a re-interpretation of the old impressionism, but not in the manner of the Venezuelan landscape artists from the beginning of the century, nor in the maner of the other generation that began to be concerned about the theme in the seventies, rectifying it to achieve its most intimate essence.

The first was a landscape with naturalistic connotations, bucolic, and the second was (and still is) an expressionist landscape which is violent at times ("el Indio Guerra"), and contain other times (Vásquez Brito). In Ugarte's case we could say that it is a minimalist landscape. His outlines are contained and expressive, distributed and placed on the canvas with a loving and romantic gesture, and open a path toward the proposal of a symbolic landscape. For the observer, what is seen is known, but at the same time is abstract and non-referential.

The density of the surface, on which color and light play without the collaboration of drawing, has a conceptual value. The artist draws and structures his forms with light and color. The formal element of light is fundamental for Ugarte (antecedents in Reverón and the impressionists); with light and color, or vice-versa, the artist creates aesthetic tensions and a profound aesthetic magnetism."

Bélgica Rodriguez

L'eau est un élément essentiel de la vie.

"L'eau est un élément essentiel de la vie. Elle est aussi un aspect caractéristique de la ville de Paris. C'est donc tout à fait naturel qu'un peintre comme Antonio José Ugarte, dont l'oeuvre a l'eau comme cujet et comme objectif, ait trouvé à Paris la motivation et la variété de ce fluide vital d'une si grande importance, qui enrichit ses images et renforce sa conviction créatice.

Ugarte observe le monde extérieur pour en choisir des fragments qui formeront son phrasé plastique. Toute son oeuvre tourne autour de l'eau. Au début, il a travaillé sur l'homme, l'athlète, le corps. Ensuite, sa création s'est axée sur des fontaines et des paysages de préférence urbains. Plus tard, l'oeuvre est devenue elle-même sujet de la peinture, au milieu de formes, figures, reflets, ondulations, illusion de ce qui est et de ce que la peinture suggére.

Ugarte est arrive à Paris, comme il était déjà arrivé à d'autres capitales, mais c'est ici qu'il a eu la révélation de l'eau, de sa puissance métaphorique et de son rite visual: eaux immémoriales, lieux de pèlerinage, liberté du fluide vital, réverbérant et immaterial, jaillissant des sources. Eaux associées à ce qui se construit chez l'homme, à la spiritualité de la vie.

Eau comme axe d'une qui s'affirme chaque jour davantage comme un torrent qui donne vie et force aux rêves de persistance. Le Nord, ce qui court librement, ce qui tourjours revient."

Juan Carlos Palenzuela, Paris