Artist’s Reception: Saturday, June 2nd, 6-9 pm
Thoughtful, mysterious, and wildly imaginative, José-Maria Cundin’s latest series, Opus Concava, deconstructs notions of space, perception, and emotion. Art lovers familiar with the internationally renowned painter’s style will instantly recognize his semi-abstract vocabulary of biomorphic shapes coalescing like flower petals in a bouquet, words in a semiotic system, or the components of an ever-shifting personality. Cundin refers to these oil paintings on wood panel as “portraits, pseudo-portraits, echograms, and ectoplasm Imagery” within a highly idiosyncratic catalogue of saints. Rather than painting portraits of conventional sitters, he allows the viewer’s eye to connect ribbons and chunks of color, which cluster around an invisible center of gravity. These elements integrate into psychologically penetrating visages more akin to Jacques Lacan’s dynamic conception of identity than traditional notions of a fixed core self. Strikingly, Cundin renders the portraits on concave panels, many of them in unconventional circular or triangular shapes. Varying degrees of concavity lend uncanny optical effects as viewers observe the paintings from changing angles. “This presents very peculiar technical and compositional challenges,” the artist observes, “as I aim for the best visual results through an anamorphic effect.”
Born in the Basque Country in 1938, Cundin benefited from early exposure to now-legendary Basque painters such as Augustin and Ramon Zubiauarre, José Maria de Ucelay, and Genaro Urrutia. In the 1950s, he lived and painted in Bogotá, Colombia, and later New York City, before moving in 1964 to New Orleans. Today, in his studio in the pastoral landscape of Folsom, Louisiana, he creates paintings and sculptures that are featured in some of the world’s most prestigious private, corporate, and museum collections. In the current series, he not only engages the formal properties of concavity but also the viewer’s subliminal perceptions. If, as Cundin observes, “nothing is more concave than a grave,” these works may be seen as catalysts for pondering the great questions of life, death, and the continuum that connects them. In his visually seductive, conceptually challenging works, the artist invites us to draw our own conclusions about “the incorporated subjective value as a metaphor,” which permeates the exhibition with twin senses of reverence and irreverence; a cosmopolitan flair for inquiry and exploration; and above all, a witty, jubilant joie de vivre.
CALLAN CONTEMPORARY hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm. For more information, please contact gallery owner Borislava Callan at 504.525.0518 or visit our website at www.callancontemporary.com.