Impressionism emerged in France during the second half of the 19th century, but it was from a work by Claude Monet, titled Impression, Sunrise, from 1872, that an art critic dismissively baptized the group, calling them "Impressionists", considering that their works were unfinished, thus being an elementary impression that distanced from reality, a label that the group later took, ironically, to identify itself as an artistic movement. The group was not only rejected by art critics, but also by the public.
Although some art scholars leave impressionism out of the avant-garde, others include it, since it was the first movement that opposed the prevailing aesthetic taste at that time, in favor of a new way of capturing reality and painting. In The Impressionism are the roots of modern art. The emergence of this movement also responds to scientific studies about color, light, and the psychic procedures of perception. Impressionist aesthetics is based on capturing on its canvases the moment and the effect of light on the landscape and all the other things that it affects; that is, to capture the changing behavior of light and color of reality, as a result of the artist's visual impression.
With the artists Manet, Renoir, Degas, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Sisley and Cezanne, the transition from traditional painting to the Impressionist way of making art occurs, whose characteristics are the following: Study of light and color; outdoor work; the natural and urban landscape, and daily life as main themes; use of quick, spontaneous, fragmented and visible brushstrokes; application of pure colors, juxtaposed, not mixed on the palette but in the eye of the beholder; elimination of chiaroscuro and creation of shadows through complementary colors; the shapes of things are diluted, until they become almost abstract, in some cases, subject to the conditions of the light, which changes during the day.
Impressionism spread throughout the world creating schools. Between 1880 and 1920 it moved to various countries in America. In Venezuela, for example, the Círculo de Bellas Artes emerged in 1912, made up of a group of young artists who reacted against the rigid teaching method taught by the Academy of Fine Arts, and they decided to leave their workshop work and go out to the countryside, to paint outdoors, inspired by the French Impressionists
The knowledge that these young people had about impressionism was obtained, in principle, through European books and magazines, which they complemented with the arrival in Venezuela of the artists Samys Mützner and Emilio Boggio, on the one hand, and Rafael Monasterios and Armando Reverón, on the other hand, who were in Europe at the time this group was founded, which they later joined.
With the Círculo de Bellas Artes, the landscape ceases to be a backdrop, relegated to the theme of historical, epic painting, and the aesthetics of landscaping emerges as an independent genre, as a central theme, in Venezuelan art, which continues with the Escuela de Caracas until 1940, to later give way to other artistic currents, when it loses interest for artists, critics and collectors considering it a worn out genre. However, between 1960 and 70, it returns to the artistic scene, but this time it reappears resized, approached from the perspective of contemporary aesthetics, from an ecological, urban, social, and psychological perspective. This other way of seeing and doing landscape in Venezuela is what is known as New Landscape.
Now, curiously, today there are those who conceive their works inspired by the aesthetic principles of the French Impressionists, although with a very personal treatment and style. This is where the Venezuelan Jesús Armando Villalón comes into play, born in 1945 in Barquisimeto, "the city of twilight", who, after having dedicated himself to business work and his family, around 1974 decides to dedicate himself to painting and takes art classes with the master Ramón Díaz Lugo, a disciple of one of the masters of the Venezuelan landscape, Rafael Monasterios, who, as we said, was part of the Círculo de Bellas Artes and later the Escuela de Caracas. In that initial stage of his training, Villalón's interest in the conventional landscape, still lifes, streets and places of his hometown began; Later, he became interested in the Valle del Turbio, crossed by the Río Turbio, and the impressive twilights of that region.
To deepen his training as an artist, Villalón traveled to Spain in 1981, where he studied drawing, painting, and graphic arts. There he had the opportunity to see first-hand the reverberating light in Joaquín de Sorolla's compositions, and the spots and masses of color in Joaquín Mir's painting, artists that had a profound impact on him, so much so that, in his way of conceiving landscape, his influences are noticed, until he achieves his particular style, characterized by pasty, short and fast strokes, a very personal color palette and the creation of atmospheric effects that give his compositions a certain mystery, a characteristic of his visual discourse that gave him the qualification of "The painter of the mists".
His theme focuses on the natural landscape, urban scenes and the religious. The natural landscape is made up of compositions in which the Valle del Turbio and the Parque Nacional El Ávila, icons of Barquisimeto and Caracas, respectively, are recurrent. In urban scenes you can see the streets, signs, cars, people, buildings, and part of the natural landscape. In religious artworks, the image of La Divina Pastora, patron saint of Barquisimeto, prevails, a kind of tribute that Villalón pays to his little virgin, to whom he is very devoted, represented in a procession, which takes place every January 14.
Summing up, mist, transparency, dynamic luminosity, chromatic flashes (ocher, yellow, red, black, white, gray) are present in all of his compositions, the pasty, short and fast line, visual components that tend to blur and turn a little abstract, in some cases, the reality seen by this master of Venezuelan art, with international projection.
Written by Jose Gregorio Noroño