|From “El Comercio”, Lima,
Wednesday 21 August, 2002.
Page A14 – “Trazos, El Color En La Sangre”
According to his genealogical tree, the
self trained artist Vito Loli Narváez is grandnephew
to artist Paul Gauguin. He might not have inherited his talent,
but his imagination is there.
THE PERUVIAN GAUGUIN’S RELATIVE
By: Patricia Castro Obando.
Loli’s partner in love is convinced that Paul Gauguin’s
spirit doesn’t let him sleep. “I believe that
his grand uncle gets in his body at night. He wakes up at
1am, he enters in an inspirational state, twists his tongue
and sets it aside, chews it and starts painting as quickly
as he can, until 6am.”
The real deal here is that Vito’s curly genealogical
tree points at him as the grandnephew of the french artist.
The Tristan’s branch divides in brothers Mariano and
Pío. The first one was the father of peruvian writer
Flora Tristan, Paul Gauguin’s grandmother. The second
one was an interim viceroy in Peru and directly related to
Vito. When branches cross, the french artist is undoubtedly
related to the peruvian artist.
However, it was former Peruvian President Fernando Belaunde
Terry and not Paul Gauguin who figured out Vito’s destiny.
When he was eight, he drew the Rizo Patron family’s
residence with such perfection and detail that Belaunde, close
friend to Vito’s father, was really impressed. Between
the two adults, they decided that the kid would become an
architect. Vito was interested only in creating his own comic
books where he was the superhero. When he was 18, he began
studying Architecture because his father hoped that Belaunde’s
predictions would come true, “That boy will be a better
architect than I am.”
Instead of finishing his career, Vito dropped out to ride
the Hawaiian waves in 1979 and threw away such good predictions.
When the waves came down and he ran out of money, he knocked
on a constructing business’s door in California. Until,
in 1987, he dared to ask a restaurant owner whether he needed
a muralist to decorate his business. “It’s a long
way from hammers to brushes” he answered skeptically.
But, given Vito’s stubbornness, he tested him. “Draw
a bandit running away in his horse,” he asked. Vito,
fond of heroes and villains, never thought they would be giving
him a job.
Since then, and until 1987, he painted and designed about
a hundred murals for restaurants, hotels, stores, college
buildings and luxurious californian houses. “I get scared
when I see white walls,” was his explanation when he
was asked about his artistic motivation.
had never gone back to Peru between 1979 and 1994. Everytime
he Streetd, worried about some terrorist act that he had just
found out about, his family would tell him not to even think
about coming back. But in 1994, his divorce crushed his bohemian
artist life. He stopped seeing his children and felt how his
empty house was beginning to eat him. Without further adue,
he came back to Peru after fifteen years to find a caged city.
“Everyone lived behind bars, safety had made him become
birds in cages. They told me not to complain, that I had electricity,
water and even that I could flush the toilet.”
During the following years, Vito used his creativity widely.
He explored graphic design, advertising, television set decoration
and interior design as he did earlier with the sea. He learned
to paint murals in the time it took him to ride a wave, and
even copied himself. “They always wanted me to do television
sets on the last minute. I had a group of “vampires”
that I had trained to work overnight. While I was drawing
in a wheeled ladder, they would be cheching lights and shadows.
We ended up on time, but doped by the materials we used. Like
vampires, we flew away.”
In the last two years, night has began gaining time to daylight
in Vito’s house. His overnight raids have increased
and defined his artwork. His paintings, sold here and internationally
on a fairly good price, encouraged him to prepare an exhibition.
However, his self trained condition has closed Lima’s
galleries doors for him. His partner, Erika Schaefer says:
“I studied art for seven years at Universidad Católica,
but I will never paint like him. Vito has a scale meter stuck
in his head, a very intuitive way for color mixing and a special
talent for composition.”
But the artist can’t explain in detail how he learned
to paint. He acquired his technique by buying products and
reading their directions. “Watching, asking, and wandering
around”, he says. He has experimented in his pallette
like a mad scientist. “But until now, when I work with
solvents and other strong products, I still feel uncomfortable
with wearing a mask to work.” He assures that the rest
is pure common sense and that the art of painting is an eternal
and marked search.
He also has no problem in satisfying his customers’
weirdest requirements. “I have a request from an american
Walt Disney Fan who wants to see Mickey, Donald and Goofy
in a single painting. Behind them, there’s the Castle
of Dreams”, says the artist looking to the roof.
In the genealogical tree that relates him to Gauguin, Vito
is just a little branch. He is not a coinosseur of Gauguin’s
life and work. He also has not studied his paintings and doesn’t
know them by name. However, what gets his attention is that,
just like him, Gauguin was a huge admirer of native beauty
and had a strong inclination towards the opposite sex and
was, curiously enough, a big fan of the sea, even though Gauguin