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Tato Caraveo
{9} The Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Tato Caraveo, "Untitled," charcoal and matte glaze on particle board

Continuing through October 1, 2015

In a city with an ever-increasing array of street art and murals, Tato Caraveo is one of its stars, creating scenes throughout central Phoenix that warrant more than a glance through the windshield. Semi-distorted figures with overly round faces on stick-like limbs are Caraveo’s trademark — something quite apart from other, more aggressively styled murals around town. Given the care he takes, it’s no surprise that his work translates quite well into the gallery setting. But it is intriguing that his pieces are so compact in size and concise in composition.

One series is devoted to scenes done in charcoal on 24 x 7-inch particle boards, and the vertical shape serves to heighten the appeal of his elongated figures, making them not so much grotesque as beguiling. In one “Untitled" piece, a gondolier steers a boat and notably his arms, neck and bent legs, as well as his oar, are all stretched thin as if he were an elastic toy. Yet his face is plump, with oversized lips and eyes, a serene black cat sitting on the bow. In other scenes, which trade on romance and nostalgia without being too syrupy, Caraveo creates silhouetted backgrounds where buildings and streetlights tilt toward the center, adding to the distorted effect. A sparingly composed vertical piece experiments with the elongated figure of a cellist, the instrument’s long strings superimposed onto his body. This show shows Caraveo and his signature style to be convincing, whether he is creating street art or working in the studio.

{9} The Gallery

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