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UNLV professor brings geometric form to life for The Studio's inaugural exhibit

The 10 paintings are large, the lines pulling one’s gaze in almost hypnotically for further study. Each is a geometrical study of form and color tones.

“If you permit yourself to get lost into the paintings, you will achieve a visual dialogue with them,” the program read. “Their architecture will challenge your perception.”

The artist, Jose Bellver, holds the distinction of being the first to have his work exhibited at The Studio, the newly opened gallery inside the Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara Ave. Titled “Canon 21,” his exhibit is set to run through Jan. 21.

“It didn’t happen as a choice, like, ‘I’m going to make this thing,’ ” he said. “There’s a whole experience behind this.”

Bellver, an international artist and professor from the College of Fine Arts at UNLV, said being the first to exhibit in the new space was an honor. He said he always liked the space when it was the Las Vegas Art Museum. In fact, he had been tapped to do a show there just before the museum folded in 2009. He called it a fabulous space with the architectural presence to fit with his structured geometric paintings.

None of the pieces in the exhibit has ever been seen before. Bellver could have taken art out of other galleries for the exhibit but elected to create all new paintings.

“When you have this caliber of artist, that’s what they do,” said Denise Alvarado, gallery services coordinator for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. “They create new pieces.”

Bellver returned to Las Vegas for the opening of The Studio after exhibiting his work in Toronto, which enjoys a thriving art community. How does Bellver see Las Vegas as far as forwarding the arts?

He chose his words carefully.

“Culturally speaking, Las Vegas is not where it should be or could be,” he said. “… Las Vegas has all the disadvantages of a large city but none of the advantages.”

Bellver said he lives in Pahrump as a way to isolate himself. It’s a place where he said he feels very free. His psychic told him not to move away from the area and that things would happen for him in Southern Nevada. The seeds for one of those things were sown some 30 years ago when one of his students at UNLV was Christopher Cutts.

Cutts is the owner and operator of the Christopher Cutts Gallery in Toronto, which hosted Bellver’s previous show in June. Cutts established his gallery there in 1986.

“Jose was my teacher way back,” Cutts said. “He had a big influence on me, totally.”

Reconnecting with Bellver was a stroke of fate, Cutts said. He was at an art fair in Miami and ran into an old college buddy, who knew how to contact Bellver. After reacquainting himself with the UNLV instructor, Cutts proposed the show in Toronto. Bellver’s works there were shown under the title “Scramble.”

When word came of The Studio’s opening, Cutts expected Bellver would want some of his paintings for the Las Vegas event.

“I said, ‘Just tell me what you want me to send back and I’ll send them,’ ” Cutts said. “But he said, ‘No, I’m going to go for it.’ I think he, like, literally worked from dusk to dawn. These are all huge paintings and all done over the summer.”

Bellver said his art has been developing in the past few years and that while he made these paintings specifically for The Studio’s inaugural exhibit, the series had been a long time coming.

He explained how his paintings are created through a very structured process, beginning with freehand sketches on index-sized cards. That’s followed by moving them through geometrical projections and incorporating the Pythagorean theorem. He then mocks them up in 11-inch-by-12-inch size.

At that phase, they are clean, crisp line drawings. After that, he does a value study in gray tones by rendering them in graphite. That’s followed by a watercolor painting of the idea. Once that solidifies the finished look, he begins work on the final piece. Bellver’s 10 paintings in the exhibit range from 74 inches by 68 inches to 78 inches by 144 inches.

The paintings for the exhibit did not come easily, Bellver said. He rejected his initial ideas and started again.

“They were confusing. I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said.

He gestured to one of the paintings and smiled knowingly at it.

“Then, after this one, it was like a gate opening. They all came out one after the other without any effort,” he said. “There’s no distinction to me between one painting or the other. It’s like a chain.”

Cutts said Bellver chose a profession that can be isolating.

“You don’t choose to be an artist,” Cutts said. “It’s a tough road, a lonely road. The only thing that is important to you is to make your art, and that’s him. … It’s magic, really. Think about it. You start with nothing and you make something of it.”

To see more of Bellver’s work, visit

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 702-387-2949.