All is not what it seems in this painting by Juan Bolivar. Circles, triangles, diamonds and rhomboids in bright saccharine colours, are scattered randomly over the canvas. Viewed more closely, the shapes reveal a human face. At the top corners, two black circles with inset diamond shapes stare out like harlequin eyes; the red central circular shape resembles a clown's nose; and the jagged blue shape along the top fringes the face like hair. Each shape appears to be momentarily suspended in the middle of a juggling act. Bolivar has likened this visual metaphor to the spiral of 'The Snail', the famous collage by Henri Matisse of 1953 in the Tate. 'Circus Boy', painted as part of Bolivar's postgraduate degree at Goldsmiths College, London, is one of several playful paintings in which he has created faces from a repertoire of abstract shapes, a process that he calls 'faciality'.
Juan Bolivar was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and studied at St Martin's College of Art in London from 1985 to 1988. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2003 and was awarded the Warden's Purchase Prize. His work has been shown in several exhibitions in London, Edinburgh, Bath and Venezuela, and since 2001 he has curated a number of exhibitions in London. Some of his recent paintings were exhibited in 'New British Painting 2' at the John Hansard Gallery in Southampton in spring 2004.
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