October 22, 2017


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Lot 277: Nathan Oliveira

Lot 277: Nathan Oliveira

Untitled, Standing Figure #1

Oil on canvas
Signed and dated lower right; retains Salander-O'Reilly Galleries label and Salander-O'Reilly Galleries exhibition label verso
Canvas: 84" x 68.125"; Frame: 88.625" x 72.625"; (Canvas: 213 x 173 cm)
Provenance: Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, New York; Private Collection, Rancho Santa Fe, California
Exhibited: "Nathan Oliveira: Paintings and Works on Paper 1959-1991," Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, New York, April 3-May 8, 1991
Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000
Price Realized: $131,250
Inventory Id: 26277

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In the late 1950s Nathan Oliveira, an important figure in California's Bay Area Figurative Movement, adopted an approach to painting that involved unsystematically spreading pigment on canvas, while erratically and loosely working the paint until an image emerged. "For me, painting is that magical material, that beautiful stuff that was invented, the ground-up pigments in oil which makes it very malleable," Oliveira once remarked. "It can be manipulated and changed, darkened, lightened, given different hues and colors, so that by manipulating this material somehow I can find that figure I'm looking for, that figure that represents all the issues I'm bringing up and addressing."

In his highly-charged large-scale work, Untitled, Standing Figure #1 (1990) the viewer finds a central abstract figure set against a murky backdrop rendered in the artist's signature thick brushstrokes. Utilizing brilliant reds and billowing pinks, Oliveira forms an image reminiscent of a turbulent sky at dusk. The intensity of the ghostly nude, with her ominously effaced visage, is juxtaposed with a glimpse of calm horizon evident at the bottom left corner of the painting. Like many of Oliveira's paintings, Untitled, Standing Figure #1, possesses an almost shamanistic quality that is at once melancholic and mystical, the effect of which is achieved and intensified by the artist's loose, but thick, brushwork, and skillful manipulation of gradations in light and color.

Grimes, William. B The New York Times, 19 Nov. 2010, Web.
"Nathan Oliveira." Artnet, 2016, Web.