at  Bath House Cultural Center and 500X
by Todd Camplin

Few people on this planet are truly unique individuals, Bernardo Cantu is one of
those lucky few and you will agree after you have seen his art work. I think his
approach is so different, because I find him thoughtful in his choice of ideas
and I admire his manipulation and selection of materials. A true mix master of
his surroundings and of our collective past that when you see his art objects,
you might first get the impression that he comes from another galaxy.
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If you look closely at his sculptural/paintings, you will find a few key elements that will clue you into
his thought processes.  One important idea is his exploration of the past/present “relics from an alien
Latino culture.” Cantu combines textile patterns first originated in the 17th century. These traditional
Mexican Sarapes are stuffed, stretched, and sometimes painted over. He plays with popular culture,
but instead of directly referencing existing products, Cantu invents products from his alternate Latino
reality. Other times he stretches bold materials designed and produced in the 1980’s. Tubing is
concealed by fabric in some works; while in others he allows these tubes to protrude like vines that
spawn new painted objects. Cantu is akin to much of the New Baroque styles that play with kitsch,
but he has distinguished his work through an honest investigation of the past to make his incredible
leap forward.
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I can easily imagine his work becoming center pieces to a Santeria ritual or a fixture in a Catholic’s
home, because his painting projects are a home grown transcendence. It is no wonder J R Compton
and Terry Hays included his work in the group show “Cura! Cura! Cura!” at the Bath House Cultural
Center. The show is a mix of artists that are attempting to push some boundaries, but Cantu is beyond
boundaries, he is blazing trails like an Avant Guard. He is like a budding art star, still working in small
venues and making extremely good art, but he deserves a solo show in a place like the DMA,
because his presence and talent is so much bigger than life.

Scientists have found simple sugar around forming stars. But you don’t need a telescope to see
something sweet that looks out of this world, you just need to visit the Bath House Cultural
Center this week and next week visit 500X, because Bernardo Cantu is a star on the rise.
barrio-tech alchemy transducer
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