Bubi Canal, Into the Gloaming

— Text by Jorge Clar, 2019

Every work of art is a universe into its own. Into the Gloaming, the recent exhibition by Bubi Canal at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, presented a collection of images stemming from play, symmetry, and intuition, radiating the glow of twilight and the spirit of presences—small worlds of inviting light, darkness, and color.

Receptive to impulses from an ongoing process of examining images and mythologies, Bubi creates photo and video works from an intuitive place. On weekday mornings, when we meet at cafés in Brooklyn to do our respective computer tasks, he’ll often comment on mysterious places and objects dreamt the night before.

From notebooks filled with special words and image files of characters, locales, and objects of interest, Bubi might suddenly ‘feel’ an object or a piece of vintage clothing, for instance, and the process of creating ensues.

I’ve witnessed firsthand this creative process. When our friend Belén Prieto posed in front of metal rings in a Bushwick playground for the piece Panorama, Bubi minded the placement of props and photographing while I held the flash at an exact distance.

Working with symmetry and color, Bubi deals with unexpected elements that emerge during photo sessions, searching for a placement that transforms. Simple objects acquire an otherworldly quality through context and customization—the more surprise, the better.

I had the pleasure of modeling two characters for the show: Tártaro, a nod to ancient warriors, and the Ojáncano, a mythical Cantabrian character—costumed by Spanish designer Chaumen—that also appears in the Cosmovision video.

Photo sessions for this show often took place spontaneously: when the sunset seemed dramatic enough. For the Tártaro piece, the last image created for the exhibition, I was wearing a tight-fitting mask rigged with hair, and a Björn Borg vintage sweater. We did three sessions to get just the right image, Bubi adjusting the hair often (one day was windy and cold) while I stood still and tilted my head slowly. Even the slightest change of angle would alter the expression of the character.

To attend the opening, Lia Munch and I flew to Cincinnati together—what an adventure! We bolted around the city with Bubi tending to last-minute errands (especially the costume for Special Visitor, the owl character who made a guest appearance), visited the incredible Casablanca Vintage shop, and checked out local eateries.

On the night of the opening, I sensed the Zaha Hadid-designed CAC building was a fitting, expressionist setting for the show, contributing to its magical feel with enticing perspectives and texture.