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Feliciano Carvallo

Feliciano Carvallo

Born in Naiguatá, state of Vargas, 11 November 1920. He spends his childhood in the seashore towns doing farming work. He attends the municipal school until the third grade. His creativity first becomes evident in the design and manufacture of his own toys. He shares his love of painting with Eusebio Pereira, who paints figures of animals, while Carvallo prefers landscapes, flowers and fruits on paper or cardboard, using natural inks prepared with red clay, annatto, cayenne, ground red bricks, azulillo and black clay. He also makes masks and paints jars and maracas. Carvallo starts painting the walls and doors of his own house and eventually is commissioned by his neighbors to do the same with their houses.

Toward 1945 he works as a bricklayer for Armando Reverón, who teaches him to prepare canvases and use color. In 1948 he stages his first individual exhibition in the living room of his house. Among the works exhibited stand out Still life with different kinds of fruits and The woman and the parrots bite me. That year a reportage is published in Elite magazine (June 12) written by Víctor Albert Grillet, announcing the existence of this new artist; another article, signed by Rafael Delgado, appears in El Nacional (November 17). These are the first reviews on a “naïve” artist in Venezuela. About this time he paints his work The bear (industrial enamel, National Art Gallery collection). In 1949 he participates in the Free Art Workshop and presents an exhibition with 30 paintings and 5 masks on March 27. Since 1950 he works basically with oil paint and industrial enamel; his figures become smaller, conforming multitudes, and his themes are manifestation of popular folk traditions.

In 1952 he participates for the first time in the 13th Official Art Salon, and in 1954 he exhibits his works in New York. In 1955 he and Víctor Millán take part in the 5th Exhibition of Artists of the Free Art Workshop, and critic Gaston Dile organizes an individual show in the Venezuelan-French Center of Caracas.

In 1957 the Las Pailas barrio in Maiquetía (state of Vargas) is demolished, his house is leveled and all his belongings are lost, including paintings and masks prepared for an exhibition abroad. He moves to Tarma, where he meets Urbana Sandoval, who will eventually become his wife. In 1958 he exhibits 14 pieces in the Visual Art Gallery of Havana, among them hunters, feasts and processions. The following year he signs an exclusivity contract with the Modern Art Gallery of Caracas and in 1960, Shell Petroleum Company publishes in its yearly almanac several works of his and Luis Guevara Moreno’s. In 1965 he receives an honor mention from the 26th Official Art Salon for Black jungle and the Antonio Edmundo Monsanto prize at the 27th Arturo Michelena Salon for Tallowed pole; and the following year he is granted the National Prize for Painting at the 27th Official Art Salon for Tempered summer (GAN collection) and the Armando Reverón Prize for Second blue jungle 2 (GAN collection).

In 1967 he exhibits along with Bárbaro Rivas in “Current primitives of America” under the patronage of the Hispanic Culture Institute at the Museum of Modern Art of Madrid, and in 1973 in “Latin American naïve panting” at the Mendoza Hall. In 1977, the Culture House of Güigüe, state of Carabobo, pays homage to him by creating the Feliciano Carvallo Drawing Prize. Likewise, the Littoral Center of the Simón Bolívar University, located in Naiguatá, state of Vargas, and the authorities of the former Federal Department of Vargas organize an exhibition to celebrate his 60th anniversary, followed by a similar homage granted by Fundarte. In 1986 he participates in a collective show of serigraphs by 23 Venezuelan painters at the De Armas Gallery in Miami, Florida, and in 1990 the Petare Museum organizes an exhibition to honor his 70th anniversary and acknowledge his artistic career.

Francisco Da Antonio has pointed out three stages in his production: the first one, from his beginnings as a painter around 1950, when he uses water-soluble colors and a nervous outline in his drawing. He then starts a series of paintings of folkloric subject until the 1960s, carried out with warm colors, using oil paint and industrial enamels; during this stage, his figures are minimalized to the point of schemes in theatrical spaces which violate the conventions of perspective. Finally, the jungles stage is carried out in dark but brilliant tones, following a scheme of flat, monochromatic backgrounds on which he decoratively orders his forms as colored serpentines.

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