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CK Contemporary

José Basso

“For some time now, I feel the need to use art as a means to rescue and reflect only what is good. I want to make a kind of art that means something and it means something when it affects and seduces us, when it speaks from within its own silence.”

(Chilean, b. 1949)

José Basso’s unique landscapes are at once serene and intense. It’s quite easy to lose oneself in the beauty of the jewel like colors and soft infusion of light that set the foundation for his work. However, it’s the artist’s ability to strip down the natural world to its most essential elements, leaving only light, air, space and the few components that remind us of the human presence, that allows him to communicate extraordinary complexity. Born in Vina del Mar, Chile, José Basso had an early interest in art, and decided to pursue a degree in Fine Art at the School of Fine Arts in Vina del Mar, eventually continuing his studies at the University of Chile in Valparaisio. Basso gained early recognition for his work, and won the Painting Prize at the 1975 International Art Biennale in Valparisio. He has since participated in many international biennales and solo shows, and he is now established as one of the most significant living Chilean artists. 

In 2011, Basso was honored with a retrospective at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, Chile – a show that was voted as the best exhibition of the year by the Museum Board. Basso has also been honored with a commission from Queen Sophia of Spain to create two paintings for the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid. In addition, in 2007 he was commissioned to paint an important mural for the Office of Export Administration in Washington, D.C. He has completed countless private and public commissions and continues to be added to the permanent collections of museums throughout South America and abroad.

With his elegantly simplified forms and fine brushwork, complimented by his signature use of boldly contrasting colors, Basso’s evocative creations are universal in their appeal. He creates his mesmerizing compositions by adding multiple layers of fine oil paint, which gradually shift in gradation and tone. Parallel bands of color which serve to anchor strong horizon lines are punctuated only by the geometric forms of houses, trees and ships. This complete division of space breaks Basso’s landscapes into two distinct worlds – that of the human on one side and the metaphysical on the other. By suppressing representational naturalism and favoring a haunting equilibrium he captures the essence of solitude, serenity, longing and memory.