Span­ish painter dis­plays wax works in Bei­jing

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By DENG ZHANGYU dengzhangyu@chi­

Span­ish en­caus­tic painter Jose­Maria Cano is dis­play­ing his works at an on­go­ing ret­ro­spec­tive show in Bei­jing.

His paint­ings, made by mix­ing color with hot wax, ex­hibit the two main themes of his art — ma­te­ri­al­ism and spir­i­tu­al­ism.

Cano’s show, Dif­fer­ences and Sim­i­lar­i­ties Be­tween Re­al­ity and Truth, which con­tin­ues through March 23, dis­plays 11 se­ries of some 200 paint­ings he pro­duced since 2003, in­clud­ing his well-known Wall Street 100, a col­lec­tion of large-size im­ages of pub­lic fig­ures whose pho­tos ap­peared in the­Wall Street Jour­nal. He started the se­ries in 2004, long be­fore a melt­down hit US in­vest­ment banks.

For his Bei­jing ex­hi­bi­tion, Cano, 57, added two spe­cial sec­tions. The RMB se­ries presents mas­sive Chi­nese cur­rency notes in de­nom­i­na­tions of 1, 10 and 100. The Bei­jing se­ries fea­tures one land­scape paint­ing of the present-day city and its land­mark build­ings, and an­other from 1930sChina, based on the Tintin book The Blue Lotus to show the changes in cities here.

The paint­ings of bank notes of­fer au­di­ences an un­usu­al­way to clearly see the de­tails of money, some­thing they pay lit­tle at­ten­tion to daily. One needs to see “the beauty of the money it­self”, Cano says.

“The por­trait ofMao Ze­dong on a 100 yuan note is beau­ti­ful. So is the color and the water­mark,” he says, adding that he makes money paint­ings just like he would paint colorful gar­dens.

Be­sides the yuan, Cano has also painted pounds, marks and euros. He says it’s an ironic way to show beauty be­cause rich peo­ple are con­sid­ered “beau­ti­ful” and painters are “obliged to paint beauty”.

Cano has vis­ited Bei­jing a few times, and it is the first time that the Cen­tral Academy of Fine Arts, an art school that pro­duces well­known artists, is host­ing his works at its art mu­seum.

Dur­ing his first visit to the coun­try in 2006, he went to Shang­hai and saw how the econ­omy was grow­ing, he says.

On dis­play are also many wax paint­ings in­spired by news­pa­pers’ lay­outs.

It takes months to pro­duce an en­caus­tic paint­ing, he says. He has ded­i­cated more than a decade to the art form, and now has a dis­tinc­tive style.

Wang Huang­sheng, cu­ra­tor of the show and di­rec­tor of the CAFA’s Art Mu­seum, says it’s dif­fi­cult to make wax paint­ings, an art form that prob­a­bly orig­i­nated in Greece 2,000 years ago.

Some Chi­nese artists tried this kind of paint­ing in the 1990s but even­tu­ally gave up.

“When he showed me his works at his Lon­don stu­dio, I was at­tracted to them by the en­ergy. I then de­cided to hold a show for him in China,” Wang says.

Wang had also sug­gested that Cano’s mu­si­cal side be dis­played at the show. But Cano, who was a full­time mu­si­cian un­til he be­came a painter, said he would stick with paint­ings.

In the 1980s, the artist gained fame as a mem­ber of Span­ish pop band Me­cano. He also wrote songs for fa­mous singers like Placido Domingo.

More than a decade ago, he stepped into the world of paint­ing, which he says has­much­sim­i­lar­i­ties with his past ca­reer. He draws on mu­sic for his ex­pres­sion­ism, such as the bull­fight­ers’ se­ries.

Manuel Va­len­cia, Spain’s am­bas­sador in Bei­jing, says: “We of­ten lis­tened to his mu­sic. Paint­ing is just an­other lan­guage for him to ex­press him­self. His art is as en­er­getic as his mu­sic.”

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