This Is My Blood
Charlie James Gallery
May 6 – June 17, 2023
For anyone with an appreciation for classical painting, Mexican mythology, and Los Angeles culture, the paintings in This is My Blood by artist Danie Cansino, hit home on many levels. Within this series, currently on view at Charlie James Gallery, a spiritual bloodline connects unexpected dots that transport the viewer into a mythos all Cansino’s own.
With a background in tattoo art and a recent MFA from the University of Southern California, Cansino is a masterful painter and storyteller. She elegantly fuses the ancient with the modern, eliminating barriers of time to present us with fresh, symbolic subject matter.
These works (all from 2023) are strewn with historical, cultural, and personal references, ranging from Catholic iconography to East LA street life. For instance, the show’s centerpiece, a large oil on a wood panel diptych, Your Truth Will Determine… A Seat at the Table, is Cansino’s unique homage to The Last Supper. The characters within are all artists, colleagues, and friends of the Cansino.
The left panel shows a group of males united in what appears to be a mix of both playful conversation and prayer-like contemplation. Under a nocturnal setting, they are predominantly faced forward, and perhaps observing, the scene on the right panel, which more notably emulates the famous Da Vinci painting. Here, a different gang is seated at a long table: an all-female cast that includes a cameo by Frida Kahlo in the center, and, in proper Goya tradition, Cansino herself. They stoically face the viewer, silently self-assured in their collective creative strength. It is no mistake that there are only eleven characters shown seated at this table (or, more accurately, a picnic bench), serving as a deliberate feminist assertion of the gender imbalance still existing in today’s art world.
Flesh and Blood, another mesmerizing diptych, shows massive oil renderings on Mexican blankets, framed by gracefully draped edges. Within, an intimate game of dominoes is being played, revealing only the tattooed hands of two friends, surrounded by usual party accoutrements like smokes, snacks, and spiked seltzer. Whoever took home the winnings seems irrelevant here, as the ultimate victory lies in time spent in genuine comradery.
As this show’s title emphasizes, the underlying sentiment of the series points to the significance of a strong filial connection, not merely shared with direct family members, but also between friends and artists. Within, it seems Cansino has taken the liberty to incorporate the numerous spiritual elements significant to her development as artist and human. These influences and experiences amalgamate the complex substance of the creative mind. The results are dramatic, radiant, and poetic portraiture delivered under sultry, chiaroscuro style lighting.
Cover image: Flesh and Blood (2nd panel); all images courtesy of Charlie James Gallery, photographed by the author.