Miguel Cardenas

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Kendall Koppe

While utilising the symbolism integral to the genre of Vanitas painting, Cardenas’ points to our mortality and the fragility of even the objects we are surrounded by. Shapes and structures that are usually employed to convey innovation and functionalism appear decaying or disintegrating - reclaimed by the wildness of nature that comes with the inevitability of time. Akin to the narrative structure of a magical realism novel, reality and the fantastical become inextricably linked throughout Cardenas' work. History, archeology, folklore, mysticism and fantasy are at once everyday. The human form becomes the fulcrum of experience.

Cardenas’ paintings are layered with decades of meaning; the skull, modernist shapes, architectural forms and the jackals head, all draw from parallels within Pre-Colombian and Western/ European art canons. Cross-cultural pollination is a signature of Cardenas’ practice, with references that range from Botero’s Latin iconography to the European Impressionism of Rousseau - from the pure modernism of Brancusi to the visceral representation of esoteric Indigenous mythology and lore.

Throughout his practice, Cardenas’ approaches the idea of the future as an illusion made from projections of our past experiences and our present desires. In his Vanitas and tableaux paintings, culture melds into one indistinct amalgamation of time and references that speak to a zeitgeist of our current modernity.

  • Cosmic Raft, 2020, watercolour, gouache, coloured pencil and marker on paper, 30.5 x 45.7 cm
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