Sunday, October 13, 2019

New Paintings and Mixed Media by Luis Cruz Azaceta and Brian Guidry at Arthur Roger

New Orleans' most internationally celebrated visual artist lives so quietly among us that very few beyond our art community even know his name. Now 77 years old and represented in over 80 major museum collections all over the world, Havana, Cuba-native Luis Cruz Azaceta has become something of a godfather of Hispanic Caribbean abstraction by doggedly avoiding labels and remaining true to his chosen identity as a voice for exiles everywhere. His work arises from the psychological complexities of living in limbo, as expressed in bold canvases and constructions where the threads that connect, and the ties that bind, are forever strained by having to perpetually navigate a world of obstacles that has no parallel for those of us fortunate enough to live firmly planted in our homelands. How does he handle that? In the traditional Cuban way -- by making spirited cultural music from the sometimes seductive, sometimes forbidding, raw materials of the human condition. 
After moving to New York as a teen in 1960, Azaceta was inspired by the city's Kafka-esque anarchy to become a leading figure in 1980s neo-expressionism. Relocating to New Orleans in 1993 returned him to the buoyant colors and gritty sensuality of his native land, but in a city that was deeply parochial yet culturally international. This Arthur Roger show reflects the intricate forces that shaped his life while celebrating his gift for forever seeing the world anew. “N.O. Sound,” right, a multi-hued canvas of colorful rhythmic wedges linked by mysterious schematic circuits, suggests how the urban oyster of Nola culture creates sublime pearls from adamantly disparate forces. “Mayhem,” top expands the view to include Caribbean complexity as a wellspring of cultural genius based on uniting the anarchy of opposites into a ceaseless stream of improvisational creativity.

All this is neatly complemented by Brian Guidry's brilliant “Parallel Earth” exhibition of paintings focusing on the obscure inner dynamics of the forces that animate the world around us. Taken together, both exhibitions illustrate the sublime evolution of Louisiana's uniquely spicy flavors of abstract art. ~Bookhardt / Between the Lines: New Work by Luis Cruz Azaceta; Parallel Earth: New Work by Brian Guidry, Through Oct. 26, Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St. 522-1999.