Born in Havana, Cuba in 1961, Pablo Cano was on the last flight out of the country before the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He has since been a resident of Miami’s Little Havana, and is regarded by art patrons and critics alike as one of Florida’s premier contemporary fine artists.
Since childhood, marionettes have fascinated Pablo. At the age of ten, he was mounting elaborate plays for his family featuring puppets constructed of household bric-a-brac. His primary work today continues to center around the marionettes that he fashions from found objects, and the performance pieces he composes to showcase these protagonists.
Cano reveals, “I create a dream world where inanimate objects come to life – springing from my imagination in the Surrealist tradition. But my work is founded on Dada ideals. The Dadaists used chance, spontaneity, and childlike innocence in order to create their statement. Their intention, as is mine, was to break with tradition and painting technique and to return to the elemental basics of art; to start from scratch; to allow the process of imagination to unfold and begin anew each time I create.”
Influences from the color palette of Russian Constructivist Alexandra Exter, who assembled marionettes in the 1920’s, the mechanics of the pieces in Alexander Calder’s Circus and Cubist bricolage can be seen in Pablo’s work. By incorporating carefully selected discarded debris from the urban streets he frequents, as well as miscellany brought to his studio by friends from all over the world, Cano has ultimately developed his own charming and inventive palette that has been described as unlike any other artist’s today.
Dr. Yolanda Sanchez, noted Curator and Artist, comments, “the work has remarkable energy – a sensation of things about to break free. Not just because most of his pieces have the capacity for movement, but because the accretion of divergent parts and the unique way that Pablo fuses them create a tremendous build-up of energy – a whole new entity of reordered parts, bigger and stronger than the individual pieces.”
Bonnie Clearwater, Director and Chief Curator, MOCA North Miami observes, “Each marionette is a complete sculpture in its own right that is exhibited in the museum in its inanimate state; but when their creator and grand puppeteer Cano performs them, the figures take on a life force that causes the audience members to suspend their disbelief.” She continues, “It was clear right from Cano’s first productions at MOCA that a truly original artist, who marched to his own drummer, was in our midst. In the 1990’s, at a time when conceptual art dominated the international art world, Cano followed his heart and passion, seeing treasures in garbage and bringing unforgettable characters into existence.”
Pablo concludes, “For me, the most anticipated element of the process of creation is the final step – when the contributors (choreographers, dancers, actors, musicians, producers) sprinkle magic stardust over the tenderly assembled detritus and bring the cast of remarkably unique marionettes to life. I am sure the stardust has worked when I see in the faces of the audience young and old the unfolding of their connection with the characters in the production.”
Cano employs numerous art forms in his work including oil and watercolor painting, fine drawing, charcoal and ceramic sculpture and is accomplished in each of these areas. He earned a MFA from Queens College of the City University of New York in 1985 and has studied and worked in New York, Paris, Baltimore and Miami. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami, Florida has commissioned his work annually since 1997.
Pablo Cano’s work is found in numerous public and private collections internationally including the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; Museum of Art / Fort Lauderdale, FL; Lowe Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL; Cintas Foundation, New York, NY; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY at New Paltz, New Paltz, NY; The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, GA; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN; Art in Public Places, Olympia, GA; Bacardi, Miami, FL; R.J. Reynolds Company, Winston-Salem, NC; Sagamore Hotel, Collection of Martin & Cricket Taplin, Miami Beach, FL; Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL; Young at Art Museum, Davie, FL.