ARCHIVE LIBRARY

WORKS BY NSU ART PROFESSOR EDGAR CANO CAPTIVATES VIEWERS WITH MYSTICAL, SURREAL IMAGES

Brought To You By NSU; Written by Leah Jackson

Artist Edgar Cano Lopez works in many mediums, but paintings in his series that includes “Life is Beautiful” are colorful large scale works with mythical elements, fine details and ambiguous themes. “Life is Beautiful” earned Best in Show at last month’s 16th annual Surreal Salon Soiree at the Baton Rouge Gallery, an international competition that celebrates the pop-surrealist movement. The 78 x 62-inch oil on linen painting was inspired by his wife Gabriele.   

Cano, a native of Mexico and an assistant professor of art at Northwestern State University, has earned many awards in national and international competitions over the last two decades, and has shown work in solo and group exhibitions. The Surreal Salon exhibition featured the work of 64 artists representing 25 states and six different countries. In March, Cano’s work will be part of the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe’s 61st annual juried show featuring work by 87 artists from 28 states.  

Last November, a painting by Cano was winner of the Grand Jury Award for Season 20 (2023/24), the Biennial 2023 juried competition hosted by Manifest, a contemporary arts center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Grand Jury Award recognizes one exhibited work representing the ‘best of the best’ shown in Manifest’s many exhibits that year. Some of his work is also currently on exhibit through Feb. 29 in NSU’s Orville Hanchey Gallery as part of a faculty show.  

During a tour of his studio, Cano showed a visitor a painting completed just the day before titled “Parade” that was inspired by his friend, the Mexican artist and performer Lukas Avendano. “Parade” is a 102 inches x 81 inches oil on linen. After finishing the large piece, he immediately started a new portrait.   

“Portraits are a relaxing time for me.  It’s like you just copy an image,” said Cano, who is known for his finely detailed likenesses.

Cano’s sweeping, cinematic compositions reflect his beginnings as a professional artist in Mexico when he was creating backdrops for theatre productions.  Many of his models are dancer and actor friends from his early days. He has also completed some impressive murals, including an exterior visual titled “Beginning and End” for the Instituto de Investigaciones Jagüey (Jagüey Research Institute) in San Martin de las Piramides, Mexico, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRS775rQPcc).   

Since Cano came to NSU to complete his master’s degree in 2021 and joined the faculty in 2022, he has immersed himself into the community through portrait work and local exhibitions. He was designer for the mural at the Ben D. Johnson Education Center titled “Seeds of Hope,” a celebration of Natchitoches’ agricultural heritage that was completed by a community of volunteers.  

His current collection, called “Swallow the Earth,” is supported by the Mexican government and explores irony and nonsense. The compositions – at once vibrant and enigmatic– are alive with detail and he intentionally adds “a little bit of nonsense and ironic feelings.”  

“Nothing is happening, but everything is happening, and nothing is completely connected,” he said. “Perhaps the viewer finds something interesting.  Think about what you are seeing.”  

The compositions go further than a viewer’s first impression. Some subjects seem to be part of a performance. Others might suggest anxiety, uncertainly or apathy. Cano, in surrealist fashion, builds upon motion and language with the images.  

“I express my feelings into the painting but I’m not responsible for what the painting is saying to the viewer,” he said. “Some subjects look at you as if to say, ‘I’m currently in a painting…what about you?’” 

Cano constructs frames and stretches his own canvases for his large paintings, a skill he is passing to his students.  

“They are so excited about that. They are used to buying at Hobby Lobby or somewhere.  Now they build the frame, stretch the canvas and prepare the surface.  They don’t want to mess up the surface, so they say, ‘I want to paint something better,’ because they are working with materials and painting on canvases they built themselves.”  

He is also teaching students lithography, the ancient stone print-making technique that he learned working with a professor from Sweden during a 2022 workshop. Between teaching and faculty duties, painting, building canvases, workshops, solo shows and searching for exhibitions, Cano also works on personal projects and commissions, and has applied for a solo show in New York. He encourages students to do the same and submit work for exhibitions as they push themselves to get better.  

Going forward, Cano continues to produce work that depicts events of daily life, reinterpreted from personal experience.  

“Nothing is too beautiful,” he said. “Something is interesting, more than beautiful, to give you a new way to think.” 

Information on Cano is available at. https://www.edgarcanostudio.com/.  To view an installation at his large exhibition El Centro Único, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FM-hw1n7Q8&t=6s 

Information on NSU’s Department of Fine and Graphic Arts is available at https://www.nsula.edu/art/  

 

 

 

 

 

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