Art On Cuba - - Index - Mar­i­lyn Sampera

José Villa is the Cuban sculp­tor of high­est in­ter­na­tional rel­e­vance, with his works shown in sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional spa­ces. Born in San­ti­ago de Cuba (1950), grad­u­ated and post grad­u­ate from the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, he de­cided to dis­tance him­self from the train­ing that obeyed the pro­pos­als of re­al­ism to dare with ab­strac­tion­ism that pro­posed vol­ume and other shapes dis­tant from his learn­ing.

Be­sides ex­hibit­ing his vast work in museums and gal­leries,

Villa has de­voted part of his ef­forts to place his art in pub­lic spa­ces. He usu­ally works with last­ing ma­te­rial, namely stone, bronze, in dif­fer­ent for­mats: medium, large scale and the most re­cent pro­posal of sculp­tural jew­elry.

The artist has par­tic­i­pated in dozens of sculp­ture in­ter­na­tional sym­posia and his works are placed in dif­fer­ent ci­ties world­wide.

Clear ev­i­dence of his call for the pub­lic pro­jec­tion of his work are his pieces of pop­u­lar con­no­ta­tion: John Len­non, peace­fully sit­ting on a park bench in Vedado neigh­bor­hood; the Ca­ballero de Paris, walk­ing Old Ha­vana; Ernest Hem­ing­way, ea­ger to en­joy a daiquiri in the Floridita bar; Mother Teresa of Cal­cutta, writ­ing and in peace­ful ab­sorp­tion in a con­vent; all these pieces are ex­am­ples of his cre­ativ­ity, giv­ing hu­man re­al­ism to the char­ac­ters, cap­tur­ing their fea­tures.

We dis­cover in the artist the di­chotomy of he, who, to­gether with medium size and mon­u­men­tal work, de­vel­ops tran­scen­dent ab­stract pieces, vol­umes of splen­did for­mal per­fec­tion and so­phis­ti­cated im­agery. Ex­pres­sions of his moder­nity and good taste are found in Mu­ta­nia, cre­ated in the year 2010 in the Mu­seum of Fine Arts of Cuba, a piece where the au­thor un­der­lines his un­al­ter­able de­vo­tion to ab­strac­tion­ism, re­veal­ing his con­cern for visual struc­tures by cre­at­ing geo­met­ric fig­ures used as a dis­tinc­tive sign of his ab­stract work. In this process, the con­cept of the spi­ral en­ables him to jour­ney through a dy­namic that aims to go be­yond the static spirit.

The spi­ral is a sym­bol of growth and evo­lu­tion: it rep­re­sents the process s of re­turn­ing once and again to the same point, but al­ways at a dif­fer­ent and su­pe­rior level, so that ev­ery step is con­ceived in a new light. With this no­tion of the shape, we can con­clude that this new pro­posal is a metaphor of his ex­cel­lent artis­tic ca­reer. We are fac­ing the cre­ative spi­ral of his work that leads him from gallery sculp­ture to mon­u­men­tal and en­vi­ron­men­tal sculp­ture, to re­turn to the small for­mat with met­al­smith work that does not re­nounce its sculp­tural na­ture, an­i­mated by the con­cept of geo­met­ric ab­stra­cion and full of a cap­ti­vat­ing beauty.

In his most re­cent pro­duc­tion, Villa sur­prises with jew­elry (10 edi­tions each) de­signed by the artist and in­vari­ably marked by the im­print of his per­sonal style. Re­fine­ment, balance and some mys­tery are the re­sult of this min­i­mal­ist ex­er­cise that evokes known pro­duc­tions, but does not re­peat them, as Villa has de­cided to make orig­i­nal creations that ex­tend his splen­did imag­i­nary.

In this new di­men­sion, Villa of­fers an ex­em­plary lec­ture on the ex­pres­sive di­men­sion of “the small”. He works vol­umes sim­i­lar to those char­ac­ter­iz­ing his sculp­tures; but the spec­ta­tor can now wear and en­joy these shapes. That is what the show is about: the splen­did pieces by Villa, forged with ex­ul­tant del­i­cacy that presents an ex­quis­ite mas­tery of the ma­te­rial— gold, sil­ver, bronze—and now echoed in the sculp­tural jew­elry which be­yond the ex­hi­bi­tion will be­come the prop­erty of de­mand­ing, for­tu­nate and pleased cus­tomers.

This is the same artist who took down from pedestals the em­i­nent fig­ures of the com­mem­o­ra­tive arts, to trans­form the con­cept of mon­u­ment; the same artist that has pro­vided Cuban ge­og­ra­phy and other sites of the planet with en­vi­ron­men­tal works. The José Villa of al­ways, demon­strat­ing his mas­tery in the most in­ti­mate of scales with sculp­tural jew­elry, as a tiny ver­sion of beauty, the mar­velous spi­ral of his cre­ation. ƒ

Luna, 2016

Sil­ver and bronze

Salmo, 2016

24¾ x 26¼ x 10¾ inches Cop­per

Rizo, 2016

19 x 22½ x 15¼ inches Stain­less steel

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