Gabriel Navar

Cantos Alegres (Joyful Songs)

Cantos Alegres was commissioned by and written for the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Jo-Michael Scheibe, Music and Artistic Director (by Paul Basler). The commission (sponsored in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts) came about after critically acclaimed performances of Basler’s Missa Kenya in the spring of 2000 by Maestro Scheibe and the Master Chorale.

The poems (all in Spanish), chosen by the composer, are by a young California artist, Gabriel Navar, whose work is noted for its sensual imagery. An interesting and important aspect of Navar’s creative work is that each poem has a corresponding painting with the same title. Drama features prominently in Cantos Alegres and text painting abounds, highlighting Navar’s beautiful poetry. A common thread moves through all nine poems – that of a love greater than all other loves.

Brief Art Resume

This resume includes my educational background, my exhibition record, newspaper articles, and collector’s list. Noted exhibitions include venues such as Galerie B. Haasner in Wiesbaden, Germany, National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Illinois, Vorpal Gallery in San Francisco, CA, MACLA in San Jose, CA and Museo de Artes Visuales Aramara in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico. My work is in a number of private and public collections including the City of Oakland, CA, Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, CA, Dr. Dirk Haasner, Basel, Switzerland, Mel & Leta Ramos, Oakland, CA, and BMG Entertainment, NY, NY.

Artist Statement

For over ten years, painting for me has been a platform for exploring experiences, dreams and entities visually, including issues of consumer culture, relationships, spirituality, and politics.

In my current paintings, I am inspired by the internet platform as a way of investigating current events as well as the human condition as it relates to and is tightly interwoven with our inner, cyber, natural and urban landscapes. My paintings are a critique of as well as an assimilation and celebration of the multiplicity and disparate abundance of visual information often intended to side-track, seduce and/or sell something to the public. My work is based on the visual realm of popular and often infamous imagery that permeates our social consciousness through the media, especially the internet.
I simulate the internet environment through the depiction and layering of unrelated visual units, browser “windows” for dialogue, for information, designs and, of course, spam. I do realize that these “windows”, when viewed simultaneously on the computer screen, become unified and challenge the viewer to filter, reject, respond to, or embrace the information. These dynamics inform and stimulate my work.
In my painting, via the exploration of the figure, color, texture and form, I express the tight bond and interdependency with our immediate and global community. The images often mirror my belief and understanding that globally, everything is interconnected in a sort of spiritual, political, and economic embrace. The energy behind my work is my profound love for the earth, the divine, and painting itself. I often borrow and appropriate images easily recognized symbols and motifs from many sources, including images derived from magazines, the media, art historical references as well as from the computer environment, especially those encountered through the on-line visual experience of “pop-up” windows and ads. Symbolically, the computer reference serves as a metaphor for information, education and the wide-array, almost overwhelmingly assortment of images that we as a twenty first-century culture are confronted with on a daily basis.

I understand that people around the globe are more connected to each other than ever before. Information, images, resources and money flow more quickly than ever. Goods and services produced in one part of the world are increasingly available in other parts. International communication is commonplace and instant. This phenomenon informs my work.

It is as if national borders did not exist. I feel free to explore information easily accessible to me. Images that inspire my work (such as from dreams, books, and immediate surroundings) are and may be overlapped or merged with images that may be found on the internet or on the “Ethnic-Food” aisle at the local supermarket. Varying entities and institutions, for better, yet often for worse, may become “one” and coexist as one entity. Although some pieces are visually more tranquil than others in the choice of colors or the lack of or surplus overlaying of imagery, I strive to communicate a timeless sense of inner and cosmic peace. I approach my work with a motivation stemming from a lingering preoccupation with the perplexities, anxieties and wonders that permeate our lives. Painting is my instrument for making sense of the world.

Collaborations with Paul Basler

“My initial introduction to Gabriel’s poetry was in 2000 when I was commissioned by the Edinburg North High School Choir (Texas) to write them a work based on a Spanish text. I asked the choir to select the poem and they chose Gabriel’s Portones Abiertos y Rostros Brillantes (which later became part of Cantos Alegres). I was immediately struck but the incredible imagery of the poetry as well as the obvious joy in life, nature, and love that is so present in Gabriel’s work. From that point, I knew that I had found the perfect artist with which to collaborate.

Embrace Creation was commissioned by the Tennessee Tech University Department of Music. It uses 4 of Gabriel’s poems in a one movement work (10 minutes long). This world premiere performance will be unique in the fact that Gabriel will be present at the performance and an active participant in the rehearsals before the concert.

Several of our works have now become popular and standard pieces in the choral world: Adorable flujo, Portones Abiertos y Rostros Brillantes, El Dia es Hoy, and Amor que une con Amor Grandisimo. They have been performed extensively throughout the world by amateur as well as professional ensembles in some of the world’s most famous venues, including Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Boston’s Symphony Hall, the Winchester International Music Festival, among others. The above 4 pieces are published by Walton Music (an affiliate with Hal Leonard Music – the world’s largest music publisher). Divine Days is published by Colla Voce Music (a very highly respected and large choral publisher). Many have commented on the perfect blending of poetry and music for the piece’s success.” – Paul Basler