Ernesto Canovas solo show, titled An American Trilogy, which opens at the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, London, on the 30th of April, presents us with mixed media canvases of one of the most exciting times in American history: the 60's. However, Canovas appropriates images that belongs to the collective memory with a very current approach. Nostalgia is just a side effect. Recollections of history such as Kennedy's assassination, Moon landing, mass ownership of big cars or the start of advertising companies for a hungry consumer population, generates an intriguing narrative parallel to this turbulent times.
Spanish artist, Ernesto Canovas, employs a multi-layered practice of painting, drawing, printmaking and photography. Canovas' artworks are heavily worked and only realised through careful contemplation. Exuding an ironic and somewhat discerning sense of obscurity, the subject matter is not always clarified. By combining the vocabulary of Pop Art with sources from old and new media, he successfully produces work that captures snapshots of the present-day, presenting the viewer with a duality from which the perceived truths are questioned and refashioned.
Ernesto Canovas was selected for The New Contemporaries Exhibition in Edinburgh and was awarded The Stevenson Award for Painting in 2010. He recently exhibited at Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4′s New Sensations 2011 and received the Premio Ora 2013 arts award.
Step by Step by Ernesto Canovas. Courtesy Halcyon Gallery and the artist.
Canovas, the artist, has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Why have you decided to concentrate on the States for this solo exhibition?
I guess in a way is fascination for this country. The American dream as a subject matter that give me the chance to explore many aspects of history and popular culture in America, music, cinema, TV, advertising, conquer of the west, urban landscape, space era, automobile industry, popular icons, politics and many more.
2. Are your paintings about a nostalgic view of an era?
They not about nostalgia but these pieces somehow can make us feel nostalgic just for its association with our past or memories even if we haven't even been in certain places or events reflected in the paintings.
3. What type of emotions would you like to evoke on the viewer?
I suppose that every individual viewer will react differently, I think any emotion will be a triumph.
4. What are your main influences as an artist?
As a contemporary artist I feel that I get influenced by everything around me, in this series one of the big influences has been recent history and cinema.
4. What is your next project?
From June this year my work will be featured at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh; in recognition of achievements since I initially participated in the New Contemporaries show there in 2010, I been selected as one of just six art professionals to exhibit at Generation 14, instigated by the National Galleries of Scotland.
Unfinished Business by Ernesto Canovas. Courtesy Halcyon Gallery and the artist.
Simon Quintero, Halcyon Gallery artists manager and curator of this show, comments about the following questions:
1. What attracts you most from Canovas' painting?
Their sensual surfaces and subtle beauty. Their questioning of narrative. Their overall tension. Their cinematic grace.
2. What is your favourite painting and why?
I don't have one particular favourite. They are all favourites in different ways. Some for whom is portrayed and reminiscent of great films I've watched, others for their abstract paring but mostly because as a whole they work as a one body, they link together taking you through the last century of what still is the world's most influential country.
In an era obsessed with the next iPhone model and the newest dating network, it is good to pause and reflect on whether history is repeating itself and therefore we keep making the same mistakes. Canovas, although unintentionally, provides a platform for such a debate.