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Douglas Padilla at CreArte

Something I’ve always enjoyed about art exhibitions is that the work is left to speak for itself. In this instance, Douglas Padilla’s actual paintings make the case for his stature in the community. These are very touching, beautiful, and, yes, delicate works which come from another place than much of the work exhibited here.

Padilla is self-taught and it should be noted that he taught himself much that other college trained artists could learn from. His work has a manner that is spontaneous and direct. It is united by his investigations of color as the engines of his paintings. The paintings are abstract, but the images are submerged in the web of the processes. All the surface content, whether paint, collage or foreign matter seems to flow into an overall field of light and luminosity. Something truly original arises from this brew, something fresh and something life affirming. Padilla’s art has a spirituality that is partly formal and partly a longing and reminiscence, both for another place and another culture.

The paintings walk a tightrope between a kind of very sophisticated outsider vision and a desire to be accepted in the more academic parameters of professionalism. The fact that the beauty and complexity of these paintings are profoundly at odds with many notions that determine success is in itself an indication that Padilla is not a captive of the dominant culture. In many ways, Padilla is inventing painting for himself from scratch. And as rapturous as this exhibition is, the promise of future beauty is built into it’s risks and false starts. One has a sense of being introduced to a new talent, a talent less afraid of making a fool of himself. Indeed, a humor pervades the room.

Yes, this is good natured work. Even the skulls are smiling. And the gallery is suffused with the love of painting and culture. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty one can quibble about in this work, but taken as a whole, it simply has a quiet civilized power that can’t be denied. Padilla’s sensibility is original and refreshing, like cuisine we rarely taste. It inspires and moves us to feel that the future is still unpainted.

 

Frank Gaard

Freelance art critic/Artpolice Journals