San Antonio, Texas. ART Magazine.
Walking into the Institute of Texan Cultures one might miss the contemporary artist series at first glance. From far away, Franco Mondini Ruiz’ pieces do not look contemporary at all. The golden elegantly carved frames depict Texan landscapes that do not seem to have anything extraordinary. As the viewer gets closer, it becomes more apparent that the unintentional yet deliberate painting that Mondini makes on the canvas is nothing but splatters of paint and very gestural applications of the medium.
In Vertical Onderdonk the paint splatters take over the frame as well. “His work is an insightful amalgamation of all things high and low in cultural expression”, explains Arturo Almeida, curator of UTSA Art Collection and curator for the Texas Contemporary Artist Series. The landscapes on this exhibition seem to be what we would consider traditional high art of Texas. However, when looking at the work closely one encounters an interesting concept of a playful abstract technique and a surprising lighthearted depiction that from far away seems very serious and traditional. “Although I am a fan of San Antonio history, biography, and period painting, I never dreamed I would have a body of work inspired by early 20th century Texas bluebonnet painters. I am an artist better known for sticking diamond rings on doughnuts and calling it high art”, reads Mondini’s artist statement. The idea of making something high art with low art is a recurring theme in the artist’s work, and in this occasion, he is creating art that seems traditional and polished but is composed by contemporary abstractions in a coarse and gestural manner. This body of works offers an interesting juxtaposition of opposing elements and an insightful contradiction of the principles in the making of carefully depicted traditional art.
Franco Mondini Ruiz is one of the most renowned artists in San Antonio, Texas. His work is not only appreciated locally but he has also exhibited nationally and internationally and was the recipient of the 2004 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome and an alumnus of the 2000 Whitney Biannual.
The exhibition will be on display until September 2nd. For more information please go to the Institute of Texan Cultures website: http://www.texancultures.com/