ANTONIO CARRENO: Distilled Spirits
November 9 – December 31, 2012
Distilled Spirits features oil paintings from Carreno’s newest body of work, Gravitation, created over the last two years. These saturated, expressive paintings signal a seismic shift in the artist’s abstraction. His canvases invoke an otherworldly, contemplative place, inhabited by spirits and energies not always seen but often felt. Inviting the viewer to experience this intimate world full of spirituality and lyricism, Carreno intuitively explores what post-modernists describe as the human truth – concrete experiences dictating one’s fallible and relative truth rather than an overwhelming universal truth.
Evoking a sense of the individualized style defined by Expressionism and Cubism of such European masters as Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian, the artist’s previous work also waded in the extraordinary legacy of Latin American Surrealism, influenced by artists such as Wilfredo Lam and Rufino Tamayo. His newer body of work moves beyond these influences. Using strong, confident brushstrokes, Carreno extends the musicality used by his predecessors in his turn toward illusionistic abstraction. He reaches out to the edges of the plane, working the full canvas in multiple layers of pigment as one melodic surface, instead of pursuing a structured set of colors and bodily forms seen in his earlier work. While the palette is similar, the artist’s new works imply the residue of removed surrealist forms and drawn imagery. They act as metaphor for the memories of past experiences and environments that shape individual perceptions and ultimately connect us within the human condition. Carreno is painting his emotions, his dreams, and his subconscious to make sense of his experiences and search for a common link within humanity. His paintings exist as a catalyst for the viewer’s investigation of his or her own truth.
In “The Light,” a reflective pool of purple, orange, blue, and yellow pigments collects at the base of the canvas, spreading out through the folded stretch of material. A waterfall of color, the pool’s source whose movement seems to both rise and fall, shines like never-ending rays of light. The barest of graphic elements – linear markings injected at every angle into the sensual quality of the paintings surface – are the only remaining evidence of his surrealist symbols.
Similarly, darts of energy fields, illustrated in pearl white or deep blue pigments, soar in “Ascendent #12” from the bottom of the canvas to its crest. The artist’s patterning of fluid elements forms this seductive painting with its warm hues and drip style. Carreno blends these energetic forms into a dazzling, delightful abstraction of rising spirits in seeking a higher, human truth.
“Dream #5” is multi-layered. Thick planes of paint open the canvas, providing a third-dimensional quality that is discordant to its physical flatness. These gradations of paint, like the stages of a dream, invite the viewer into the space as one plane gives way to another and ultimately exposes a tier of yellows, blues, and black. The title of the painting rests as the only clue that we’re entering into a subconscious space that is both complex and contemplative.