El Gallo Chantecler

By “Kamyl Bullaudy Rodríguez

November 11- November 30, 2010
Tuesday – Wednesday – Friday 11:30 am–6:30 pm
Thursday 1:30-8:30 pm
Saturday 3:30-6:30 pm
Sunday & Monday by appointment only Please call 416 361 6045

Opening reception:
Saturday November 13, 2010, 3:30-6:30 pm

El Gallo Chantecler, the Gestural Charms of Kamyl Bullaudy Rodríguez
by Valérie C. Kaelin, MFA
Instructor, Ryerson University School of Image Arts

A master of contemporary Cuban art, Bullaudy’s range of production is impressive, including charcoal murals, collages, paintings that incorporate coloured pulp made in a blender from discarded paper and egg cartons, and the lively run of roosters exhibited at Queen Gallery. One need not even consult the documentaries neither by Roberto Chile nor by Juder Laffita of the artist at work to sense the marvellous energy with which these pieces are executed.

The rooster is a potent Latin American symbol. Its quirky gait, boisterous cry and territorial nature have rendered it an apt personification of machismo. In Pablo Neruda’s poem, “Oda al Gallo,” a dictator is unfavourably compared to the rooster because he is only all show, without the genuine traits of that devoted provider. It is the medieval symbol of Catholic vigilance brought to the New World by theocratic Spain and France. Argentina’s Chacarera and Chile’s Cueca are both partnered folk dances that mimic the courtship of the rooster and hen.

In Cuba, where only state-run cock fights are legal, the rooster is, too, a common offering in the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. Yet, it is also home of a charming, circular tale (retold by Lucía M. Gonzáles) about a greedy little rooster who gets mud on his beak as he gobbles some grains of corn fallen in a puddle. He no longer looks presentable on the way to the wedding of his uncle, Parrot. Neither Grass, nor Goat, nor Stick will help him until Master Sun reciprocates the favour of being greeted in the morning by his crowing.

This is the happy creature of Kamyl Bullaudy’s paintings.

Whether interpretations of soulful men, improbably lush Venuses or these charming roosters, sophisticated gesture drawing is the signature of Bullaudy’s work. Even his painting is drawing. Part of the excitement of these pieces is the electric alternation of rapid brush stroke with rooster-in-gestalt. They are polychromatic, Zen brush painting: every thick-to-thin daub a quivering feather or cockscomb; each thin streak a prancing leg; the splayed bristles of dry brush drawn over a contrasting colour, the iridescence of its pelt. The series is a clutch of speed, scale and proportion. Each variation within its strict continuity of production is as adorable as the next. What a refreshing experience to find elegance and humour so joyfully paired!