Now that the new year is well underway, we have a visual treat in store for you: a Mexican surrealist described as a serious scholar with a delicious sense of humor. Enrique Chavarria’s paintings defy analysis. Art historian Tatiana Flores puts it this way: “Losing oneself in the images and enjoying the journeys into unexpected worlds that they offer yield the most satisfying visual and mental experience.”
Ghosts and trolls, wraiths and fortunetellers, bizarre juxtapositions flow from the wellspring of his imagination, a torrent of unimaginable tableaux guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. His skillful draftsmanship may even present a few faces that look oddly familiar.
“Chavarria (1927-1998) is a Mexican surrealist in the tradition of Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington, but with his own iconography,” says gallery owner and director Virginia Miller.
Trained in Mexico City at the Academia de San Carlos, the reclusive artist spent most of his life painting and studying. According to Bryna Prensky, the art dealer who acquired most of his work, “He knew several languages and his reading covered a broad range, from Homer and other ancient literature ... to more contemporary authors. Much of his work was inspired by poetry, particularly that of Rimbaud, Eluard, Valery and Andre Breton.”
The fairy tales, myths and legends of literature and alchemy can be seen in Chavarria’s fantasies, which often feature anthropomorphized plants and objects, bizarre juxtapositions of wraiths and realistic settings, and dream-like scenes with fairy-tale princesses interacting with nightmarish creatures.
Laura Seewoester, writing in ”Pegasus News” of Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas, states that “Despite the whimsical nature of surrealism, he shows painstaking attention to detail and paints with the utmost precision. Each piece is brimming with imagination and symbolism. They possess an uncanny familiarity, due in part to his inspiration from surrealist greats such as Dali, in part to his religious and literary references and also because of his renaissance-esque style.”
Chavarria’s passion for snorkeling and underwater photography “explains his frequent marine scenes and inclusion of underwater creatures,” Prensky notes.
Included with the dozens of oil paintings are a number of drawings and a page of the artist’s sketches of elements for future works.
The artist’s biography includes solo exhibitions at the Florida International Museum, St. Petersburg; Mary Brogan Museum, Tallahassee; Latino Cultural Center, Dallas; Miami Museum of Science; Nueva Galeria de Arte; Galeria Bryna, Mexico City and Palm Beach; and Galeria Misrachi, Mexico City.