An anlysis of “El Castillo en Reflejos, Catalonia, Spain”, by Jose Vives-Atsara
By: Gabriel Diego Delgado
“El Castillo en Reflejos, Catalonia, Spain”, by Jose Vives-Atsara is a prime example of a painting that makes you hesitate, to stop in your tracks and take a second glance; a visual shillyshally encompassed by a harmlessly dominate watery mirror-image in a ghostly gestalt. This oil painted existential echo coerces you to ponder your existence, (well not quite), but Vives-Atsara forces you to reevaluate what we know about composition in the traditional landscape painting genre.
Yes, this vintage painting (provenance 1963) of a castle in Catalonia, Spain is formulated in a way that breaks the mold of composition in the traditional sense of an impressionistic painting. Many questions come to mind when evaluating “El Castillo en Reflejos”. First of all, our brain says, Hey! Wait! Which way is up?, and we instinctively fight to resist the awkward art museum cliché of turning our head sideways to help us formulate those internal thoughts in our ability to comprehend contemporary art, we begin to suppress an interior struggle to question its validity with an ingrained and primordial self-doubt artistic chip on our mental shoulder.
Ward off that instinctive temptation to twist your neck askew so that one of your ears is up, like a canine. It won’t to help you fathom any more of this pictorial puzzle as you unbearably struggle with this artwork like it is some cryptic but visual language presented to you with a seemingly fictional and mischievous intention by an artist aimed at sadistically avenging art by at driving us mad.
When you realize it’s all about the reflection in the water, you have to reestablish the horizon line, gain your bearing as to where you are in relation to the castle in the foreground. Then, we begin to calculate the surrounding. What is the terrain? Where is the artist positioning us? Is it an impossible perspective or just a detail with some artistic liberties?
Once we perfect our posture we begin to comprehend the whole painting is all about the small castle torrent in the water’s reflection. It mimics us with a queasy vertigo gaunt in the subtle picture plane, like some painterly echo of times gone past, an artistic and historical capture of some medieval period, a flash in history when this structure was vital to the survival of the surrounding area.
Now it’s a cool and calm reflection in the tranquil waters below, reaching out from some picturesque grave, a kind of allegory of the John Everett Millais's depiction of Ophelia offering herself to death in the cold water floating down the stream in a macabre melody of ancestral auros.
Once ruled by the Crown of Aragon in the Mediterranean and complete with over 600 medieval fortresses, the autonomous region of Catalonia, Spain is a majestic territory comprised of smaller provinces that include: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Jose Vives-Atsara portrays one of these numerous castles with painterly inquisition, giving us an impressionistic reflection, just enough detail for curiosity, matched only by a legion of historical prominence.
©Gabriel Diego Delgado
J.R. Mooney Galleries, Boerne
“El Castillo en Reflejos, Catalonia, Spain”
24” x 30”
available at J.R. Mooney Galleries-Boerne, TX