Kenneth Paul Lesko Cleveland Art Gallery

John R. Nativio

Spacetime Diversions

May 17th, 2019 - July 19th, 2019

 

Evolving Geometry (triptych) | Oil on Canvas | 28 x 84 inches

 

John Nativio is an artist inspired by advancements in human knowledge, but he hasn’t forgotten about those who built the foundations of that knowledge.

“The more you dig into Art History,” says Nativio, “the more you understand who you are as an artist, and begin to ask: why do artists make art? Do I want to make ‘karaoke art,’ mimicking earlier artists and periods, or do I want to advance beyond that? Studying Art History gives me something to measure myself against, and something to aspire to. Artists who stand out have always made art for the future, not the past.”

Nativio sees a strong relationship between science and art, and points to early painters as alchemists who regularly engaged in scientific experimentation, as they created their own pigments, always searching for new colors and formulations. Beyond that, he notes that all artists are influenced by scientific and technological advances within their own time, whether it’s reflected in the materials they use or the conceptual subjects they choose.

Nativio also believes that understanding art, and the desire to create it, requires a spiritual perspective. He cites tribal art from various cultures and histories, and its connection to the respective mythologies and spiritual identities of the tribes. “Art throughout history (and prehistory), has always made an attempt to connect with something beyond what we perceive as the physical realm,” says Nativio. “Whether it’s the spirit world or something within ourselves.”

Nativio’s paintings evoke a sense of exploration. Sculptural forms dominate the compositions, their mysterious nature heightened by the fact that we rarely see them in their entirety, much as we rarely glimpse the totality of our own existence. Nativio also includes distorted forms of human hands in several of his paintings, reminding us that art is filtered through the individual—the mind conceives and the hand creates. Floating spheres drift through these landscapes of form and color, seeming to observe and record their alien surroundings. The spheres appear to suggest consciousness, and seem to be on the same journey of spiritual and scientific exploration that has driven man to understand himself and his universe since before recorded time—a journey reflected in the 32,000 year old paintings on the walls of Chauvet Cave, and in the underground Hadron Collider at CERN.

“Developing and understanding art over time has always required spiritual and scientific discovery, with a coexistence between them,” says Nativio. “The road continues between ancient times and today.”

 

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