“Untitled” (2018), by Eloy Arribas, acrylic and collage on canvas, 132 in. x 88.5 in.
Watermelon, wine and bird do
BY NANCY ELSAMANOUDI
Eloy Arribas’s intensely intuitive energetic
paintings are an odd mix of blobs and dabs
of paint, blurred shapes, glued-on collage,
scrawls, doodles and loose drawings. They include
sun rays, colored checkerboard patterns, smoking
heads, fertility goddesses, wine jugs and watermelon.
There are also handwritten and block-printed
words in Spanish and English (like “sandia,” “pajaros,”
“salud,” “Ceres” and “wine”).
There is freshness to Arribas’s paintings, currently
on view in his solo show “Frugivore Bats” at
Freight + Volume gallery on the Lower East Side.
There is a particular attitude in his work that seems
to embody a kind of contagious, Bartleby-like stubbornness.
It seems, for him, being an artist means
doing exactly what he wants without hesitation regardless
of whether it makes sense to anyone else.
Arribas draws freely from history, from both the
primitive and contemporary worlds — from graffi ti
and advertising to cave paintings and hieroglyphs.
There is an openness to how he uses space, a refusal
to be precious in his use of materials, an unaffected
celebration of everyday life and things.
This generous approach is apparent in Arribas’s
four untitled large-scale canvas paintings in the
show. They are all a kind of dirty gray, calling to
mind the grit of the city, and are constructed from
“Untitled” (2018), by Eloy Arribas, acrylic
and collage on wooden panel, 16 in. x 12 in.
roughly textured, pieced-together canvases that are
sewn together. These paintings evoke artists Arribas
seems to be in conversation with, like Twombly
In one of these grand-scale paintings, a crudely
drawn Venus of Willendorf-like fi gure, a checkerboard
pattern, and the words “salud,” “vino,” and
“sandia” are arranged in a loose composition. Another
features many disparate elements, like a stick
fi gure painting on a collaged piece of paper, blueand
white boxes, a line drawing of the sun, a smoking
head and the words “wine” and “fuma porro.”
This embrace of the commonplace can also be
seen in some of his small-scale word paintings. In
one, the word “sandia” (“watermelon” in Spanish)
appears above an awkward, square-ish slice of
seedless watermelon. The painting is reminiscent
of a sign outside a roadside fruit stand.
Another word painting showcasing his sense of
humor has the word “pajaros,” Spanish for “birds,”
in black block letters at its bottom. The only color
is fi ve spots of paint in blue, green and red, and the
painting mostly is fi lled with thick yellowish dabs
of paint and a barely noticeable thinly drawn blue
box. There are no visible birds; perhaps the colored
dots are supposed to represent them. The white
blobs are probably bird feces and this is, in fact,
probably a painting of bird droppings.
Eloy Arribas’s “Frugivore Bats” at Freight +
Volume, at 97 Allen St., until Sept. 1, Wednesday
through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
18 August 22, 2019 TVG Schneps Media