"Youtube.com/Parallels2,", 2011, acrylic, pencils & oil on paper, 15" x 20" (Collection of the artist).
"Immigration," "prejudice," "hatred," "racism," "anger"... these are words that instantly come to mind when viewing Gabriel Navar's hyper-dramatic painting "Youtube.com/Parallels2," which depicts a fuming, enraged individual on the verge of swinging a cudgel at a green extraterrestrial "alien," whose feet dangle at the top of the frame of a "Youtube" screen-still, representing a computer "monitor display" wherein a shouting and seething man's intolerant phosphorescent thoughts are revealed, "Go back where you came from, alien!!" The colors are jarring, clashing, expressing the ongoing harsh, cruel and insensitive conditions that even terrestrial "aliens" (immigrants from south of the US border) are often subjected to, as a result of racial profiling, mis-directed anger, unjust-laws, frustration, scapegoating, and a self-entitled, often elitist, "blind" sense of Caucasian privilege.
Over the past couple of years, as a formal device, Navar explores Youtube references and "platforms," as a way to generate innovative and new "push/pull" effect(s). He also uses Youtube references and "platforms" satirically as an iconological critique leveled against high-tech media-culture with its glut of visual information, intending to influence (control), brainwash, side-track, seduce and/or sell something to intended audiences. Navar's Web-based imagery examines 21st century popular culture's technophilia, which utterly permeates contemporary social consciousness via daily web-surfing; participating in numerous social networking sites, enjoying ubiquitous Youtube viral-phenomena, or roaming through the vast world of "apps."
The painting, "Youtube.com/Parallels2," reveals five layered-motifs that Navar utilizes to make both blatant and subtle allusions to various cultural and art historical references, these five motifs include: 1). The batting-motif, which refers to Major League Baseball's demand for talented Latino players, who earn million-dollar salaries to play (after arriving in the USA from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Mexico, etc.). Fortunately, these highly-gifted ball-players avoid the taunts, discrimination, oppression and ethno-racism that the majority of normal average ("documented" or "un-documented") non-millionaire working-class immigrants suffer. 2). The piñata-motif refers to an ancient tradition throughout Latin-America, but specifically in Mexico, of hitting piñatas with truncheons (where, according to historians, ritual-forms of this festive game existed both in ancient China, where it was first introduced to Europeans in the 14th century; and, in ancient Mexico. Among the Maya and the Aztecs, piñatas were often used in religious ceremonies. Aztec-pi&natilde;atas were introduced for religious purposes, i.e., celebrating the seasonal Huitzilopochtli-ceremony. Today, piñatas are still prevalent in Mexico, Latin-America, and the USA, although no longer associated with any ancient religious-connotations. Nevertheless, usually at birthday celebrations, the goal (religious or not) is to hit the piñata and smash it to pieces in order to attain the bounty within. The act itself is self-interested, violent, and destructive. 3). The Charon-motif: in the Sistine Chapel (Vatican, Rome) at the bottom of Michelangelo's The Last Judgment (1535-1541) is a depiction of Charon's Boat, where with an oar; heavily muscled and demonic Charon is smacking dozens of tortured figures into Hell. The figures appear to be writhing in agony, some swinging in air, while others evoke absolute despair. Navar often draws his inspiration from the old masters, especially in relationship to the stark drama of human emotions as manifested in physical mannerisms and facial expressions. Additionally, his Renaissance preoccupation is evident in his use of a "window," or a tube-screen, which reinforces the obvious pun or allusions to MS-Windows as well as Youtube. Lastly, at play in Navar's image is 5). The Guernica-motif, e.g., in the illustrious 1937 anti-war panting, Pablo Picasso exposes the horrors of the German Fascist bombing of the ancient Basque town of Guernica. The image also depicts people, animals, and buildings being wrenched by violence and chaos. Guernica's brutality and chaos inspired Navar's "Youtube.com/Parallels2," e.g., the close-up of the wounded woman dragging her injured leg appears in Navar's jarring magenta-pink negative-space: where he sees a parallel between the dropping of bombs on innocent people and the unabashed and blatant hatred, bias, and discrimination that is constantly leveled (in the 21st Century) against immigrants. In fact, on a state-by-state basis, for Navar, prejudice, racism, anger, and violence reveal official governmental duplicity, sanctioning oppressive acts towards immigrants (and people of color in general).
For more information on poet-painter Gabriel Navar please