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Posted on May 7, 2012 by Emilia Garcia Romeu

Carlos Bunga is best known for structures made of cardboard and packing tape: white constructions entirely covering the walls of the gallery, which, once built, are dissected to expose surfaces painted in bright colors. The origin of his work is in the street, the inspiration of this painter-cum- architect/sculptor, who began displaying his works on the walls of the city only to end up reconstructing or mimicking them inside galleries and museums. Bunga’s work has been included in exhibitions such as Unmonumental (New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 2007) or Low Key (Fundación Botín, Santander, 2008), featuring young artists who would rather work with their hands, precarious materials, and simple techniques (collage and assemblage) than succumb to the technological complexity and spectacular appearance of the art of the last decade. In the recent show of Bunga at galería elba benítez (Madrid), one is taken by a group of very light and beautiful sculptures on white pedestals.

They are made of cardboard boxes, which have been manipulated to reveal their inner structure. Some of them stand on thin metal poles, and most are partially or totally painted in turquoise, sienna, saffron ,or white. It is almost impossible not to see them as a complementary group, for, although similar, they are also very different and give the impression of being in constant dialogue with one another, so that by looking at one with discover the qualities of the other.  It is also difficult no to think of Franz West and Richard Tuttle: Of West, because of the importance of painting in his sculpture and his respect for the properties of the material. Of Tuttle, due to the notational quality of his use of color, the presence of cardboard, and the poetic undertone of his work. Bunga’s show at Elba Benítez, no doubt his best one at the gallery, deals with matter and the notion of the fragment. All the artist’s work consists, in fact, of taking parts of a whole as well as of lovingly exposing the inner qualities of the material. In this particular case, painting becomes the real protagonist: with its deliberate imperfections and omissions, its lightness and physicality, its tactility and color, painting proves here its capacity to transform everything, from objects to spaces, and to imbue them with life. Not coincidentally, a video in the exhibition entitled Matter shows a close-up of the application of painting or plaster on a surface: its lumps, its weight, its creaminess, and the way it slowly slids down.

Opening photo :Installation view
Miami Art Museum, 2009

Installation view
Photo: Luis Asín
Courtesy Elba Benítez

Fragmento # 24
Photo: Luis Asín
Courtesy Elba Benítez Gallery