Saturday, December 9, 2023

Narrative, Magic Realist Paintings on View at the New Location of River House Arts

At 80”x84”, the painting “I Will Find You” certainly lives up to its name. A towering portrait, this massive oil painting by Cuban American artist Augusto Bordelois is one of many that will be on display during River House Arts’ first exhibit in their new Secor Building gallery space. 

Persona non grata 

A Cleveland-area resident, Bordelois moved to the United States from Cuba nearly 16 years ago while exhibiting his magical realist works internationally— part of a post-WWI Latin American movement popularized by Frida Kahlo and Jorge Luis Borges. 

“The good thing about magical realism is that you don’t have to think too much about how you’re going to put things together,” says Bordelois. “Some elements are traditional, some classical. You just mix everything together and see what comes out.”

By fusing worldly influences, the classically trained painter combines his masterly techniques with philosophy, classical figures and progressive sensibilities. In his series, “Outcast and Other Rejects,” Bordelois explores the immigrant experience and the correlative feelings of rejection and misunderstanding. “I use this outcast theme because I have never seen a person who was absolutely bad nor good,” says Bordelois. “I’m interested in showing the good in those people [in my work].” 

One step at a time

In his upcoming exhibition, Bordelois will exhibit oil paintings from two of his larger series, “Outcasts and other Rejects,” and “Immigrant Stories”— created three to four paintings at a time, allowing each layer of paint to dry before adding the next.

“The way that I apply paint to canvas is an indirect method. It’s the same way that oil painting was done during the Renaissance,” explained Bordelois. Using thin glazes of oil, the colors in each painting have intense depth. “Every color has been separated, one on top of another.. The color I know the painting will finish with is not the color I put first— it’s the color I know I have to accomplish at the end.”

To stay psychologically intimate with the concept of each series, Bordelois relies on his personal writing and sketches to get into the mood of the series. “I write a lot of poetry, little essays, songs, and things like that. They don’t really describe my paintings… but they give me a serious center,” he says.

In making these specific moods physical, Bordelois achieves what few artists do— palpable works that are nearly intrusive. Whether you like it or not, the meaning will find you. 

Join Bordelois for Cuban cocktails served up by The Registry Bistro during the opening reception, 6-9pm, on Thursday, April 21 during the 3rd Thursday Art Loop. Through June 4. 


River House Arts | 425 Jefferson Ave.
(Secor Building) | 419-441-4025. | Free

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