Review: José-María Cano — Kristy Stubbs Gallery

[Originally published in The Dallas Morning News]

Kristy Stubbs’ pop-up gallery in Highland Park Village is a find. If you’re looking for impressive names appended to pieces that rock you back on your heels, this is the turf. The works range from bucolic settings in upstate New York to black-and-white photography to an abstract piece by Damien Hirst constructed of butterfly wings. Not to mention encaustics by Spanish-born José-María Cano that put a whole new spin on art as an investment.

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One piece that’s impossible to ignore is a Robert Rauschenberg triptych, circa 1981, that chronicles the artist’s life. The centerpiece is a silkscreen image in brilliant blue depicting a family outing — a canoe trip, to be precise — delineated by a red rectangle that works like a Necker cube. If you gaze at one end of the outlined “box,” it flips around. Perhaps it’s meant to suggest that memory is the ultimate optical illusion — a kind of trickster that manipulates you via perpetually shifting vectors. You also see a biography that begins with his birth in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1925 and makes note of important achievements in his career. It’s a cleverly constructed vortex around which all the other elements of the work circulate.

The images to either side depict Rauschenberg’s oil-town upbringing and his adopted home of New York. On the left he’s shown as a winged creature about to take flight and on the right he’s stripped to the bones but still exhibiting pent-up velocity suggested by a motorcycle wheel.
While the Rauschenberg is stellar, another work is a genuine jaw-dropper. José-María Cano, a former musician turned visual artist, calls it as he sees it. His encaustic work, Wall Street Journal (Women Who Pay), is a sendup of an actual WSJ cover depicting Cindy Rachofsky and Ana Pettus with a headline that underscores their penchant for spendy shopping at Paris runway shows.

Cano turned the front page into art that’s more rock-star precious than haute couture when it comes to cutting a check. And even that becomes fodder for Cano. He’s known for creating art from invoices and payment records for pieces he produces for clients and sells those for substantial sums.

Pieces from his series, The Wall Street One Hundred, featuring the most influential people in the financial sector, are also at Stubbs’ gallery. Cano states that the impetus for the works was his realization that “art should be beautiful and our culture finds money beautiful.” So you get the picture. He aims to please. It’s a wild, wild world in the contemporary art investment market and now’s a great time to pay your money and take your pick.

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