Andy Llanes Bulto
Employing specific aesthetic and symbolic traditions in order to examine orthodox maleness in its present form, Bultó’s practice is a contemporary extension of the rich heritage of the nude figure, which has a long and particular history in Western art, stretching back through time through various movements and eras, from Modernism to the Baroque, from the Renaissance to ancient Greece, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, to the Late Stone Age. Through his traditional techniques and conscious, careful, material choice—such as gold leaf and oil paint—Bultó explores the complexities of desire, seduction, intimacy, conflict and ritual. “Gold is,” he says, “a material of seduction, and one that I use to elicit the viewer’s desire to possess.”
Addressing these concerns in a new and ingenious manner, the paper-based works in this exhibition have been hand-dyed with pollen harvested from carnivorous plants. Having never worked with this material before, Bultó’s decision was related to process, but is also rich with metaphor: he is asking the viewer to consider and compare the real and symbolic qualities of pollen—which is a natural attractant, essential for the continuation of countless plants and thus life itself—with the attributes and status of gold, and even the nature of innate human desires. Because these carnivorous plants devour other living beings, the line that separates intimacy from deadly conflict is tenuous and barbarous.
Bultó’s figures seem to consent to intimacy and to one another, almost as if they’re dancing. In his native Cuba, the artists says, nearly everything can be related to dance, and this fact can be traced back to the beginning of colonization in Cuba, when the Spanish arrived with guitars and other strange new instruments and mixed with the existing Afro-Cuban culture. Conjuring connotations of colonialism, conquest, and romance—none of which cannot be disassociated from both gold and its cultural significance and a substance as essential as pollen—Bultó is, in a way, questioning the intersectionality of both cultural and natural conceits, highlighting parallels between human life and the workings of natural world.