Ernesto Cánovas: The Calm Before the Storm June 10 – July 3 2022 Halcyon Gallery 144-146 New Bond Street Mayfair London W1S 2PF
Acclaimed Spanish artist Ernesto Cánovas explores American myths and icons in his stunning new exhibition at Halcyon Gallery in London’s New Bond Street. Following the huge success of four previous Ernesto Cánovas exhibitions at Halcyon Gallery, this new exhibition puts American history, attitudes, landscape and celebrity under the spotlight.
Inspired by the American cinema of the 1970s as well as the artist’s own experiences, the many themes explored by The Calm Before the Storm include the Wild West, Las Vegas, Elvis, fame, cars, girls, solitude, horses and loneliness, exploring and debunking myths and realities.
From Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, the subject of the evocative yet intimate painting Bye Bye, Kirk to the monumental works Light and Space and Hamptons’ Seasons, Cánovas demonstrates his ability to deal with a whole range of subjects and emotions, from loss and contemplation to the deconstruction and subversion of the American dream. Featured works include Baldessari Mon Amour which layers ambiguous and thought-provoking images of solitude while The Journey evokes the American Wild West, with its uncertainties, comradeship and isolation.
In his works, Cánovas frequently acknowledges 20th century American artists such as Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol and John Baldessari among others, analysing the relationships between popular culture, mass-media and image-making, blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined.
Using a variety of materials, textures and applications, including wood and aluminium panels, Cánovas’s multi-layered technique and use of imagery and colour suggests both ambiguity and nostalgia. Influenced by history and popular culture as well as cinema, Cánovas sources images from old and new media to produce evocative, semi-abstract paintings that capture a fleeting moment in time. Clouded and broken images of cinematic icons converge with abstracted landscapes saturated with colour.
The exhibition will contain 35 works, including six monumental ones, the biggest Cánovas has exhibited in the UK. The Calm Before the Storm follows Ernesto Cánovas’ first major monographic museum exhibition at the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, which runs from June to September 2022.
Born in Barcelona in 1971 into a family with a passion for art, Cánovas showed an early interest in art books and graphic novels which led him to study design and illustration at art school in Barcelona. His subsequent acquisition of vast numbers of second-hand cameras reflected a growing fascination with photography and cinema.
Moving to Edinburgh in 1997, Cánovas enrolled in a degree in Drawing and Painting at Edinburgh College of Art, followed by an MFA in Painting at London’s Slade School of Fine Art. In 2010, while still a student, Cánovas won the Stevenson Award for Painting with the piece Your Five a Day, displayed at the New Contemporaries exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.
Cánovas’ artistic practice is systematic and time-consuming, starting out from his own or found imagery taken from recent history and popular media. After digitally manipulating and de-contextualising the initial visual through a process involving reduction, magnification and cropping, he transfers these adaptations onto panels.
Employing a plethora of drawing and painting techniques he then begins the delicate process of building up layering with acrylic, ink and varnish to create a sense of depth, while still allowing an element of the original to show through. Cánovas’ repertoire of beautiful vintage iconography, occasionally disrupted by abstract flashes of bright colour, aesthetically pleases yet emotionally disorientates the viewer.
This is the fifth exhibition of Cánovas work presented by Halcyon Gallery. In April 2014 Halcyon Gallery presented Cánovas’ inaugural exhibition An American Trilogy, a highly-acclaimed series of paintings which drew upon the artist’s personal recollections of the landscape and culture of the United States. This was followed by Turneresque, an exhibition of paintings referencing the works of JMW Turner. In 2016 Cánovas returned to Halcyon Gallery to exhibit Multiplied, a series using mixed media on large-scale wood panels as part of his continuing exploration of cinema, abstraction and found imagery.
In September 2017, Cánovas held an exhibition at Halcyon Gallery titled In One Breath. This show was a continuation of the 2016 show at Espronceda Institute of Art and Culture and was inspired by the Japanese haiku form.
Ernesto Cánovas’ exhibition The Calm Before the Storm will be at Halcyon Gallery on New Bond Street from June 10 – July 3 2022
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