As we delve deep into the work-heavy winter term, reading week cannot come soon enough. A vacation for the mind and senses is necessary for the over-stimulated student. It’s exhausting and students are exhausted. To find escape, take your eyes off the screen and focus on the canvas of the award-winning, paradise painter Oswaldo Deleon Kantule, better known as Achu, of the Kuna Yala islands, Panama. The ARTS Project invites you to experience paradise in the city, in Achu’s exhibition Between The Jungle and The Sea of Delirium.
As a native of the indigenous Kuna people, Achu has maintained the vibrantly coloured traditions of Kuna art, focusing on metaphor and symbolism. He’s shared his pieces all over the world, from Latin America to Europe to North America, and now, in Forest City. Between The Jungle and The Sea of Delirium is an energizing and inviting celebration of life and water that sends the senses dancing.
Achu’s works fit The ARTS Project’s au natural space like a glove. Add an acoustic beach soundtrack and you’ve got an island vacation downtown. Add a window with an ocean view and you’re never going home.
What’s most intriguing is the size of canvases he works with. Achu’s paintings are large, which allows the viewer to be physically lured into the piece. They’re colourful, patterned, detailed and complex, but what makes this complexity enjoyable and inviting is Achu’s use of simple shape and form. Beyond bright and colourful imagery of water, trees, fish and mermaids—and underneath the fantasy-like ocean habitats and canoes afloat—Achu’s paintings reveal the messages of an activist.
By combining indigenous art form with symbols and ideas that reflect western culture, Achu opens the door to a globalizing and thought-probing viewing experience. He explains his method.
“I first internalize the symbols and reflect on them in a playful way, to create a personal language full of aesthetic and oneiric sensations that communicate the chaos and environmental and visual contamination we face today.”
In “Primordial Tree,” we see an abstracted image of a tree rooted in water. Like most of this collection, this work is framed with a detailed pattern of seemingly endless swirls and whirls. This encourages the viewer’s eyes to start on the outer part of the canvas and work their way into a shocking and displaced element—poison signs. While inviting the viewer in with playful and bright imagery, Achu has presented the viewer with a harsh environmental reality. So, while Achu wants us to celebrate and enjoy the imagery of nature, he wants to remind us of our connection, and inevitably, our responsibility to the earth’s elements.
Other pieces like “Canoe” and “Sunset” are simply playfully fun and certainly a necessary escape from the hectic campus lifestyle. Take the chance to catch your breath and let yourself be moved by the Achu’s colouring of nature and culture.
The ARTS Project will showcase Oswaldo Deleon Kantule: Between The Jungle and The Sea of Delirium until this Saturday, January 19 in the North Gallery.