ModernDallas.net re-post of my article.
When I got an invite to see Bernardo Cantu’s show at 500x Gallery, I couldn’t possibly pass it up. I think Cantu is one of the great innovators in painting/sculpture. When Central Trak put on Failing Flat, Sculptural Tendencies in Painting last year, I was extremely disappointed Cantu wasn’t in the show. His works are a far greater success than anyone in that show. No one pushes and pulls between painting and sculpture like Cantu.
We both went to the University of North Texas together for our MFAs, so I have been following his work during his critical growth period during school and his subsequent developments. True, I was in the same program, but I can think of several graduates and undergraduate artists at that time that I did not look favorably toward their work. So loyalty is not clouding my judgement. I think that partly I enjoy his work because nothing else out there is like it. I look at a work by Cantu and I am excited to see how it was constructed. He often allows some clues to his production methods. His material is sometimes irreverent to traditions. Like his use of velvet and painting, you can’t get much lower on the riticual that material gets when it comes to its relation to painting, yet Cantu employees it masterfully. This show in particular had some installation elements of spray paint trailing across the wall and onto a helmet and table.
I also enjoy diving deep into Cantu’s sense of self. Cantu mines the 1980’s and the possible future to invent something new. His Meso-American Grill painting digs even further back to the iconography of the Aztec culture. All his pieces have some element of his Tex-Mex heritage or identity. There is a beautiful tension when these cultures collide and merge. Is it Mexican or is it American? Well the answer is no to both and yes to both at the same time. In the end, he shows a true hybrid form. The inseparable idea is made up of too many parts to make clear distinctions. Much the same way I see Cantu tackling painting and sculpture. Is it a painting or a sculpture? Once again, the answer is both or maybe somewhere in between.
Bernardo Cantu’s show, Menudotron Surf Report from Lamborghini Beach dTX is one of the many reasons to visit 500X. I saw several works in the TWU graduate group show I would like to go look at again. Plus, Diane Durant’s lightbox photographs of one lady in a red coat, standing in different locations was oddly compelling. A few other treats too, but you will have to go to see them. All the above shows run through February 15th.
ModernDallas.net for more images.