"Stylized Folk Tales" By Cate McQuaid
The subject matter of Cuban artist Orestes Gaulhiac’s playful paintings, on view at Galería Cubana, may seem at odds with his obsessive technique. Gaulhiac creates shading by scratching countless hash marks into his paint. He adds filigreed borders to many of his figures, delicate rows of triangles that he sometimes layers to resemble zippers. The results are like stylized folk tales. In “Amor, paz y buen tabaco (Love, peace and good cigars),’’ he uses a bright rainbow palette and poppy pattern to portray a couple snuggling on a hill. Feathery ferns dance in the foreground. A dove rests on the woman’s back. The man puffs on a cigar. Not every piece is as sweet. Gaulhiac often combines elements of Cubism and Surrealism that add a darker edge. “Bailarina (Ballerina)’’ features, in earth tones, a pirouetting dancer with two heads. A sickle moon with an eye smiles down at her, and a figure — part man, part dog, part bird — watches from the side. The artist’s hash marks suggest that the dancer’s spins have set ripples off around her. That texture, as in all these works, emphasizes the otherworldliness of Gaulhiac’s visions.