The Surreal Feline World of

Gustavo Novoa

The distinguished Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde once said, “We all desire to know what lies beneath…” Had Wilde been alive today to view the wondrous works of Miami painter Gustavo Novoa, he’d likely note how the artist’s expression through jungle animals reveals “reality hidden behind appearance” – with reminiscent scenes hinting of a more peaceful earth.


The Start of a World Journey
Born in 1941 in Valparaiso, Chile, Novoa grew up with the expectation of following in his father’s footsteps as an attorney. Like a faithful son, he marched to that beat during a year at law school in Santiago. Yet, Novoa yearned to discover what lay beyond his native Chile and began saving for a summer ship voyage abroad. When he arrived in the City of Lights in the summer of 1960, Paris tugged at 
Novoa’s true love – art.
“At the time, having some painting skills was acceptable to explore, perhaps on Sundays. I am fairly argumentative and might have been a successful lawyer,” Novoa recalled. “But in Paris, after seeing those artists selling their paintings in the streets, I immediately thought, ‘I could do that’ – and I did for almost five years. I was 20, and at that age, it was not a question of courage, but rather the 
excitement of my next move: selling my watercolors in Montmartre!”

Gone to Switzerland to visit the Queen

In 1962, Novoa’s career took another exciting turn when he was introduced to Queen Victoria Eugenia. The Queen was living in exile because she had turned down the marriage proposal from a Russian Grand Duke and chose, instead, to marry the King of Spain.“She played bridge with a friend of mine, which is how I met her,” Novoa said. “She probably found me amusing, and since I was planning a show in Lausanne, she decided to attend. Walking the Queen around my exhibit – a room full of bejeweled ladies bowing as we went by – was unforgettable. It was right out of  ‘My Fair Lady.’ She did not buy a painting, I gave her one: ‘noblesse oblige.’ This experience did not impact my art, only me: I became a name-dropper for a while. After all I was only 21.”

Evolving to the Jungle

In 1965, Novoa said he succumbed to the American Dream, boarding the steamship HRH Queen Mary headed for New York.
“At first I painted landscapes, boat scenes and still-life, but I found they weren’t well received in New York,” said Novoa. “In 1968, I moved into my world of imaginary jungles, where I finally found myself more at ease and being rewarded with a more positive response from my audience.

Calling Miami Home

“I moved to Miami at the perfect time, almost 20 years ago when it was just awakening to its own potential. I feel I have grown with the city. Miami is young, new, and is both laid back and dynamic, but in a less stressful way. It’s pretty everywhere you look – it’s hard to find an ugly view here,” Novoa said.

To view the paintings of Gustavo Novoa in person, visit the Wally Findlay Gallery in Palm Beach or New York. You can also visit or reach him directly at
“Paradise Revisited” and “Seven Arrows” (Novoa’s new children’s book) are available at

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The Surreal Feline World of