Turn Inside Out to Trumpet Self: Bruno Casiano at moCa

Bruno Casiano, detail. Photo courtesy of Jo Steigerwald.

There are webs that hold history captive, connecting events to one another other and to us. Bruno Casiano’s Pieces of Me, on view until April 9th in the Residency Gallery of moCa Cleveland, spins such webs out of vibrant colors and a riot of textures. (But don’t touch those paintings, no matter how much you want to.)

Bruno Casiano, Pieces of Me, gallery view. Photo by Jo Steigerwald.

What stories are told in these swirling narratives? Fragments of long-lost Cleveland papers, The Cleveland Citizen and The Cleveland Press, anchor the collages “Cleveland 2008” and “I Don’t Need No Stinking Badge.” In the first, saturated reds and oranges pulse, warning-like, as the patterned background extends beyond the painting’s edges. Wrapped within are shadowy figures, themselves swaddled like chrysalises and perhaps even haloed. In the second, headlines about the JFK assassination demand as much attention as the etched rodent, as plant fronds emerge and almost wave from the work’s sides.

Bruno Casiano (detail).

Casiano likes the square: all pieces in the show march in large regularity through the gallery, their squared-off edges controlling the explosion of hue and myth within. The largest are divided into four quadrants, like windows into opulent dreamscapes of quasi-religious figures, camouflaged animals, and color upon color upon color. It’s an intersection of quilt and mural, the historical and the personal; an inside glimpse of the abstraction of one’s self. All may not make sense immediately, but all are important.

And the lace! Stiffened, crocheted lace banners through many of the works, an inversion of church lady grandma embellishment that now fences, stamps, and borders its way in and among searing memories. Lace is a stencil that builds the jungle of light and shadow and resolves into the foliage of “El Reventón 2,” its muted yellows and browns soothing while the inimitable reds poke through. And all the while, heavy twine casts a web, root-like, under the silhouette of a gecko, the trunk of a tree.

Bruno Casiano (Detail)

Casiano draws from his childhood and upbringing in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, creating this exhibition to “suggest pieces of memories binding together in an intrinsically abstract fashion, as a poem that leads you down a river without letting you know what awaits ahead.”

Pieces of Me establishes moCa’s yearlong institutional residency with the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center, an organization located in Cleveland’s Brooklyn neighborhood with the mission of transforming lives by preserving, educating, and promoting Latino heritage through the teaching and practice of history, culture, the visual, performing, and literary arts. During this residency, the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center will occupy space at moCa and co-design an artist residency and programming. Pieces of Me and the residency are supported by The Callahan Foundation.

moCa Cleveland, located at 11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland 44106, in University Circle, is open Thursday though Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm. Free admission.

The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.

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