Arian’s Two Skins

On Cuba - - CONTENTS - ESTRELLA DÍAZ

IN EL CERRO, ONE OF THE MOST POP­U­LAR MU­NIC­I­PAL­I­TIES OF THE CAP­I­TAL, AT NO. 358 LA ROSA STREET, GRAPHIC DE­SIGNER, PAIN­TER AND SCULP­TOR ARIAN GAR­CÍA (HAVANA, 1971) HAS HIS STU­DIO. IN THAT EM­PO­RIUM – WHICH WAS THE FAM­ILY’S HOME SINCE THE AL­READY DIS­TANT 1903– EMERGED THE WORK OF THE CRE­ATOR WHO HAS BEEN ABLE (AND HAS KNOWN HOW) TO COM­BINE LAND­SCAPE, AB­STRAC­TION AND DE­SIGN: THREE GREAT AND IN­TENSE AS­PECTS, AP­PAR­ENTLY DIS­TANT BUT IN HIS CASE WITH A COM­MON DE­NOM­I­NA­TOR: CUBANNESS AND THE RE­CUR­RENCE OF ITS SYM­BOLS

When he was a child, Arian felt a deep and in­ex­pli­ca­ble need to rep­re­sent the world that sur­rounded him; be­cause of this he was al­ways draw­ing and his school note­books were the ideal sup­port for that task: “I drew all the time and while my friends from the bar­rio played ball, I en­joyed paint­ing them and imag­in­ing worlds in other di­men­sions.”

How­ever, he says in a con­ver­sa­tion with OnCuba, I al­ways dreamed of be­com­ing an out­stand­ing nu­clear physi­cist, a ca­reer that at that time was stud­ied in the for­mer Soviet Union: “my col­leagues, who knew about these abil­i­ties as a drafts­man, en­cour­aged me to do the en­trance ex­ams in the San Ale­jan­dro

Art Academy: I went and passed. Some days later, also be­cause of the en­cour­age­ment and not very aware of what I was get­ting into, I did the en­trance ex­ams in the Higher In­sti­tute of In­dus­trial De­sign (ISDI), and I passed them once again. All of a sud­den I saw my­self at an early cross­roads and, since I was an ado­les­cent, my mother had to in­ter­vene. She de­cided that I do both, in par­al­lel. That was the end of my in­ter­est in nu­clear physics and start of a long stage of learn­ing re­lated to the world of vis­ual arts that, for­tu­nately, has still not con­cluded.”

Arian grad­u­ated from San Ale­jan­dro in 1993 and three years later he con­cluded the ISDI (in the spe­cialty of In­for­ma­tional De­sign): “al­ready equipped with the the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal tools, I be­gan a work as a pain­ter and as a de­signer. I have al­ways thought that both spe­cial­ties com­ple­ment each other, but at the same time are like be­ing in­side two to­tally dif­fer­ent skins be­cause I am one when I paint and an­other when I de­sign.”

This artist as­sumes the land­scape – ur­ban – in a very pe­cu­liar way and based on a very nos­tal­gic view be­cause, even with all the prob­lems en­tailed in the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion the city is fac­ing, he

is a lover of Havana: “for me the city is in grey shades. In the ma­jor­ity of times, I take photos of the houses, I start from there, but I’m in­ter­ested in those that are in­hab­ited be­cause in them, even when in a bad state of con­struc­tion, there’s al­ways hope, a light. I be­lieve that the houses se­ries will be in­fi­nite be­cause I will never tire of paint­ing fa­cades, bal­conies and doors which, in turn, are full of sym­bol­isms.”

And the sym­bol­isms in the work of Arian are very sub­tle – it can be a sug­gested shade or an added sign -, but al­ways jus­ti­fied by its con­cept, a solid idea that obliges him to self- de­fine him­self as a lover of con­cep­tual art: “the artist has to be clear about what he is do­ing, what he wants to say and un­der which pat­terns and aes­thet­ics he is go­ing to seek shel­ter. Phys­i­cally, con­cep­tual art has to have a marked charge and a jus­ti­fied dis­course, be­cause it re­lies on the academy and on the trade, while mak­ing a wide use of di­verse ma­te­ri­als and tech­nolo­gies, which fa­vors the trans­mis­sion in a clean and re­fined way of a group of ideas.”

There is an­other se­ries – “it will also be in­fi­nite and it is the one in which I spend a great deal of my cre­ative time” – that is backed on our na­tional em­blem: “the Cuban flag is very beau­ti­ful and

deal­ing with it and cap­tur­ing it in my work is a way of re­spect­ing it, of ex­press­ing a pa­tri­otic feel­ing. That it is present – in paint­ing, sculp­ture or de­sign - is to re­vere every­thing it stands for. It’s not be­cause of its col­ors, which are very beau­ti­ful, but rather for the con­cept it im­plies. It is a se­ries in which I mix the f lag with other el­e­ments to give out mes­sages that have to do with the his­tory of the Cuban na­tion and with the ideal of home­land that we have and, above all, with the one we dream of.”

Al­though fig­u­ra­tion is present in the work of Arian, there is an­other as­pect that slips by or is ori­ented to­ward ab­strac­tion­ism which “for some, er­ro­neously, can be con­sid­ered easy in its crafts­man­ship, but ac­tu­ally it is very com­pli­cated. To make a good ab­stract work one has to know how to iso­late the con­cept and, with the min­i­mum of re­sources, achieve a level of syn­the­sis, be­cause it’s a ques­tion of con­cen­trat­ing ideas. Noth­ing can dis­tract you. It is ex­tremely com­plex.”

Through­out his ca­reer, this artist has been sys­tem­at­i­cally linked to projects that, from di­verse per­spec­tives, have paid trib­ute to Cuba’s Na­tional Hero, José Martí. He con­sid­ers him­self a deeply rooted fol­lower of Martí: “I am a lover of what the Mae­stro sym­bol­izes, and I be­lieve that ev­ery good Cuban is per­ma­nently and eter­nally in debt to him; that’s why ev­ery time I am sum­moned I will be there.”

In his home, on La Rosa Street, Arian works “ev­ery day” try­ing to achieve the dreamed- of work, but like all true artists, he is full of cer­tain­ties and also of un­cer­tain­ties. Per­haps that is why he thinks that “the dreamed- of work does not ex­ist.” How­ever, “I try to find it,” he says, while he frowns, as the nu­clear physi­cist he never got to be would do when fac­ing a log­a­rithm, an equa­tion or the still un­known char­ac­ter­is­tics of the atom. And the thing is that what gives a boost to science is doubt, as it is also the case with art.

La­zos, 2016 Mixed on bris­tol / Mixta so­bre car­tulina 40 x 15 cm

Cam­bios, 2014

Sculp­ture / Es­cul­tura

Mixed on metal / Mixta so­bre metal

Ra­dius of 56 and 10 cm of depth / Ra­dio de 56 x 10 cm de pro­fun­di­dad

Con los po­bres de la tierra, 2016 Mixed on PVC / Mixta so­bre PVC 122 x 87 cm

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