Representing the acme of his Somnambulist Series of paintings in the late 1980s that served as a startup to his diverse career as an artist, Antonio Leaño's U-Turn is a powerful haunting picture of an apocalyptic mood. But it is also a re-telling, so to speak of the horrors described by Juan Luna's Spoliarium (1896), set in the tone of a modern street. While Luna's Spoliarium described the aftermath of a gladiatorial battle where the bodies of the dead contestants are dragged in the bowels of the Colosseum, Leaño's work portrays the defeat of the spirit, of humanity, at the hands of the heartless mechanizations of the modern world. In other paintings of the same series, Leano elaborates that the destruction of the gentler, peaceful and kinder side of humanity is lost in gladiatorial battles of the corporate and industrialized world. By being pitted in the arenas of the heartless urban cities (growing at an alarming rate in the 1990s), the soul of man is lost and what is left are dreamers that do not wake up, adrift in the mad illusion of success that is obscure as it is complex. Leano is critical in his portrayal of success as a goal in place of fulfillment: the two are not the same. In U-Turn, the defeated mass of people do not return to life, and their offspring are as alien as the world they now plod through.
Oil on Plywood
183 x 183 cm (72 x 72”)