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Rolando BriseƱo
at the San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas
Recommendation by Elaine Wolff

Orlando Briseno addresses repressed histories and unresolved conflicts through glowing depictions of food.

Continuing through February 13, 2011

San Antonio native Rolando Briseño is an influential member of a generation of mestizo artists who have used their craft to explore the way cultural assimilation elides the human attrition that preceded it. As this survey of his work demonstrates, for Briseño the increasingly mainstream category of foods and customs labeled Latino or Hispanic are unconquered territory where repressed histories and unresolved conflicts lie just below the surface. His chosen platform for exhuming them is the table, a metaphor he makes explicit by using everyday linens as his canvases, and sometimes dried chiles and other food as his pigments.

At his virtual gatherings, the guests may be invited to reconsider their opinion of human sacrifice in light of modern organ transplants. A side dish: a history of posole, a rich stew descended from a ritual Aztec dish said to contain human flesh. Briseño’s vivid palette reflects its sources, from Mesoamerican art to popular taqueria tablecloths, and he often effectively combines a prehistoric narrative style with contemporary realism to drive home his points. Viewers resistant to Briseño’s provocative recipes may find themselves unable to resist the drool-inducing physicality of his paintings, which glow with the vibrancy and presence of fresh murals, and promise to wear as well over time. 

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