José Manual Nápoles Puerto View Catalog of Artwork
José Nápoles' artistic practice has centered in part on narrating his experiences of making the difficult journey to the United States. He paints in an infantil, or “childlike” style. For Nápoles, this manner of image-making creates a paradox whereby the childlike imagination and hope of his youth illuminates the dark context from which the work was born. In the end, this exhibition is a celebration of completing the journey and fostering the life he desired when he set out that first day in the forest.
This exhibition chronicles a small part of Nápoles’ 30-day journey from Venezuela, traveling through Central America and into the United States. The most difficult part of the trip was the 11 days it took to cross the Darien Gap, a 54-mile break in the Pan-American Highway that provides the only way to cross from Columbia into Panama in order to reach the United States. The Darien Gap is covered in lethal mountainous jungle patrolled by bands of armed guerrillas. It is a place of no trails, no police, and few guides. It is said to be a destination only for the most experienced, the most intrepid or the foolhardiest. To that we must add the most desperate. This is where Nápoles along with 12 other immigrants slept in fields and scavenged for food. It was here they faced the hostile terrain of 11 different countries, unpredictable authority figures, bandits, constant rain, dwindling supplies and constant reminders that every day was a life or death situation.