Andrea Bianconi's show at Barbara Davis Gallery was originally intended for a venue in Germany. Plans fell through, and it ended up here, instead. Bringing western imagery to Texas is coal to Newcastle. Would you put Bianconi's bejeweled John Wayne next to the Frederick Remingtons, or is the openly ironic tone going to clash? I expect the latter, but those Western Art guys can surprise you- look at all the fine modernist work at the Amon Carter Museum. Perhaps anything with a horse in it is OK.
Bianconi's baroque, bejewelled pieces have a flamboyant kitsch that feminizes traditionally macho imagery. It's a familiar equation: John Wayne + sequins= Liberace. Bianconi, like actor Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful), is a buffoon with an edge. In a short video spoofing a BBC television ad, Bianconi plays St. Francis arriving in an ornate space pod to spread a message of universal love. Other pieces in the show grasp at straws- obscure references to the history of the Pony Express service, famous American racehorses and Garibaldi are merely hooks to hang Bianconi's overriding preoccupation with luxe glamour.