Texas Contemporary Artist Series presents 'Henry Catenacci: Sublime Reality'

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Art by Henry Catenacci

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(March 22, 2012) -- Henry Catenacci sees the world in two dimensions. He lost sight in his left eye at age two, and the resulting lack of depth perception helps him see the world as a canvas. When he moved to Texas 11 years ago, he turned his eye from the cityscapes of New York to the nature outside his window.

>> Artwork by Catenacci will be on exhibition in "Henry Catenacci: Sublime Reality" through May 19 at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Free and open to the public, an opening reception, hosted by UTSA President Ricardo Romo and Dr. Harriett Romo is 6-8 p.m., Thursday, March 22.

As part of the ITC Texas Contemporary Artists Series, the exhibit includes eight pieces, two installations, a time-lapse projection of work on one of his pieces, and a video interview of the artist explaining his work and influences.

Catenacci's art ventures into the surreal, examining the connections between man and nature. Using wax pencil and gouache, he captures an exceptional level of detail in his images.

"My goal in creating this collection of work is to delve so deeply into the fine detail of the real world that I bring to light, beyond that, the surreal," reads Catenacci's statement on the exhibition. "What you will find here is my deep love of nature -- nature both beautiful and frightfully grim."

The artist's sentiment rings particularly true in the images selected for the series. Among the eight exhibited are two naturescapes, each depicting a young boy dressed in his Sunday best -- one, in a bright, spring meadow replete with birds and butterflies, the second, surrounded by Hill Country brush under a gloomy sky filled with crows.

According to curator Arturo Infante Almeida, the art is inspired by the artist's love of nature and the flora that surrounds his Texas home. "Henry Catenacci animates the sublimely wrought details in his work with beguiling precision," said Almeida. "Masterfully rendered, his work examines the ephemeral space between what is real and what is possible."

Aside from the eight images, the exhibit features two installations: Catenacci's tools, including a series of brushes, tubes of gouache and a magnifying glass in one; and a series of props that appear in his works in the other. Two video elements are presented -- one a time-lapse showing the work process of creating a piece for the show, and the other, an artist interview discussing background, influences and the artist's style.

"My work, really since I've been in South Texas, has taken on much more of a surreal quality, and it really shows in this exhibit," said Catenacci. "It comes from living in nature. I used to live in New York, and now living out in nature -- and being influenced by all the cultures in South Texas -- it really changed my artwork, I think, for the better."

The Institute of Texan Cultures is on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300.