Rene Cuvos dreams up storybook landscapes toned in bright candy hues and inhabited by strange and wonderful creatures.
It is a deceptively narrative practice that draws out everyone’s inner child and reflects the artist’s own personal life and inclinations.
Despite the fairy-tale morrings of Cuvos’ art, there are subtle hints of a thoroughly modern form of aggression and hostility that, while muted, still leaves one with a lingering sense that beneath his pristine and innocent figures and their cutesy appearance is a mirror of our own world.
In his latest exhibit, “Cuvos Fairyland” (July 31-Aug. 20 at the newly opened Art Gallery Asia, 3/L, Patriarch Bldg., No. 2224 Pasong Tamo, Makati City), Cuvos visits this dream-like world and presents his audience with thought-provoking works that show the continuing development of his increasingly complex oeuvre.
Inspired by illustrated children’s books and even animated films, Cuvos uses a palette often glowing with soft and muted tints of pink, violet and more graduated levels of orange and blue.
The figures are reminiscent of the strange creatures Alice encounters in Lewis Carroll’s stories: Rabbits and jester motifs recur throughout the exhibition.
But the canvases are rife with symbolism. In “Heartbreaker,” a child-jester is riding a toy car pulled by a dog-snail with the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb in the distant horizon. These incursions of adult anxieties belie the notion of innocence in these paintings.
“Fairyland” fully takes part in the alarms, premonitions and heartbreaks of the adult world. Even progressive ideas like the environment are tackled.
In “The Guardian,” a pink totem with rabbit ears and multiple eyes stands between a man wielding an axe and a field of tree stumps where once stood a forest.
Other images demonstrate the conceit: a girl sitting on a leaf in the sea; a musicbox that throws out balls instead of mellifluous music; eyes staring out from tree trunks, challenging the concept of privacy.
The exhibit can be viewed as an extension of his surface-level surrealism of the past. It’s an evolution of sorts, managing to portray intricate ideas in an accessible form.
“Cuvos Fairyland” is fantastic departure from other contemporary practices and will undoubtedly raise the artist’s profile in the visual-arts community.