Crisis or catharsis? 

NEW WORK — Hector Rene Del Campo
Herron School of Art & Design
Through Aug. 31

Hector Rene Del Campo, like so many Cuban artists, explores the fraught distance between there and here in his one-person show, simply titled NEW WORK — Hector Rene Del Campo, in the Marsh Gallery at Herron School of Art.

Del Campo’s work seems to be informed by his cultural heritage, certainly, and it contains the tension of loss — but at the same time, there’s an immutable joy, a peculiar sunshine that seems to filter organically through an almost muted light. Drawing from the stylistic conventions of graphic design and graffiti, Del Campo’s aesthetic is both organized and chaotic, but he never loses control.

“I want a person to peel back the layers to discover me in the painting,” Del Campo writes, as if that process will reveal something to him. Certainly, the act of artmaking is one of self-discovery; and Del Campo’s journey is undertaken at a frenetic but careful pace.

In “El hombre nativo,” stenciled script runs vertically to read “Habana.” The color scheme and lettering call to mind boxes of Cuban cigars, icon and cliché of Cuba. Del Campo may have a sensibility that springs from his Cuban background, and certainly it informs his work, but he makes choices as an artist that draw forth other experiences and charged responses. Utilizing latex paint, spray paint and marker, he grounds his work in the mundane.

In “Definicion de mi isla,” a wave of mauve paint is thickly applied to form a sort of ridge, giving depth and texture to the two-dimensional space. Other swaths form their own layers, while sprayed paint arcs to form a sort of shark’s jaw. “Cuba” sprawls across the canvas in masculine script, while all colors offer a tinge of gray: from the pink to the white.

There are many smaller versions of this — deftly constructed compositions of script, textured latex paint and tiny beads of spray paint adding dark depths and impenetrable shadows. But there’s no mistaking the graffiti aspect. Graffiti is an act of rebellion and we’re invited to wonder, is Del Campo resisting his country’s politics, or simply his own absence?

“Tiempo antes” offers a similar dichotomy: A smaller version of the above aesthetic, the composition splits diagonally with a delicate line suggesting an edge of lace, outlined by the plodding thickness of a marker in blue and red. One side is dark with speckles of deep brown spray paint; the other side is brilliant in pink, with an outline of a woman caught in a swirl of movement, her dress flaring. There’s a paradox between the sweetness and the netherworld of loss — and certainly that captures the essence of what I see Del Campo working towards.

NEW WORK by Hector Rene Del Campo, adjunct faculty at Herron School of Art & Design, is on view in the Marsh Gallery at Herron through Aug. 31, and is free and open to the public. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Thursdays until 8 p.m. Visit for more information.

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