Oliveira’s etchings on view at Crown Point

A striking tribute to the work of celebrated Bay Area artist Nathan Oliveira, who died Nov. 13, is on view at Crown Point Press gallery, where he worked for many years.

Oliveira came to prominence in San Francisco during the Beat Generation period, between the late 1940s and early ’50s when a swirling creative milieu swept The City.  

Along with painting and sculpture, he explored printing, particularly lithography. Though abstract expressionism — the style that dominated American painting at the time — influenced him, he remained adamantly devoted to figuration.

He fused the two, however, creating a unique blend.

In the early 1990s, Crown Point founder Kathan Brown invited Oliveira to work in etching at the gallery. He was reluctant, thinking that finding the energy necessary to learn the new language might not be worth the effort. But Brown kept after him until he finally decided to try it.

Oliveira took to etching almost immediately, feeling a sense of freedom he didn’t expect. The ability to experiment with the language, the varied ways of working with it, and the importance of the relationship with printers brought him to a new phase in his artistic life.

The gallery tribute consists of a selection of four pieces of work done over the years at Crown Point.  

Imagination, the way Oliveira etched, and color all play integral roles in the works’ success.

The pinkish orientation in the work comes from his love of the Southwest: “Color is like food,” Oliveira said. “You have an appetite for certain colors.”

In “Rocker 07,” a crudely drawn figure is set against a flat and solid glowing orange background. The contrast is striking. Although the figure’s outline is clear, its interior consists of quickly applied strokes and splashes throughout, with tiny, undefined forms in certain areas.

There doesn’t seem to be a particular reason for lack of definition in the body’s interior, nor any logic for contrasting background. But together they are intriguing, and give the piece an appealing, mysterious essence, a quality that runs throughout Oliveira’s work.

IF YOU GO

Tribute to Nathan Oliveira


Where:
Crown Point Press gallery, 20 Hawthorne St., San Francisco

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; closes Jan. 12

Contact: (415) 974-6273; www.crownpoint.com

artsbooksentertainmentFine ArtsNathan Oliveira

Just Posted

A large crack winds its way up a sidewalk along China Basin Street in Mission Bay on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s sinking sidewalks: Is climate change to blame?

‘In the last couple months, it’s been a noticeable change’

For years, Facebook employees have identified serious harms and proposed potential fixes. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have rejected the remedies, causing whisteblowers to multiple. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)
Facebook’s problems at the top: Social media giant is not listening to whistleblowers

Whistleblowers multiply, but Zuckerberg and Sandberg don’t heed their warnings

Maria Jimenez swabs her 7-year-old daughter Glendy Perez for a COVID-19 test at Canal Alliance in San Rafael on Sept. 25. (Penni Gladstone/CalMatters)
Rapid COVID-19 tests in short supply in California

‘The U.S. gets a D- when it comes to testing’

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led a late-game comeback against the Packers, but San Francisco lost, 30-28, on a late field goal. (Courtesy of San Francisco 49ers)
The Packers beat the Niners in a heartbreaker: Don’t panic

San Francisco is no better and no worse than you thought they were.

A new ruling will thwart the growth of solar installation companies like Luminalt, which was founded in an Outer Sunset garage and is majority woman owned. (Philip Cheung, New York Times)
A threat to California’s solar future and diverse employment pathways

A new ruling creates barriers to entering the clean energy workforce

Most Read