PO­EMS

Art On Cuba - - INDEX - GABRIELA GARCÍA AZCUY

By March sev­eral pro­pos­als to com­ple­ment the cel­e­bra­tions of In­ter­na­tional Women’s Day had al­ready been de­vised: a solo show by the young artist Lisyanet Ro­dríguez (1987) and a trib­ute to

Gina Pel­lón (1926-2014), through con­ver­sa­tions with the cre­ators Ivonne Fer­rer (1968), Ana María Sar­lat (1959) and Laura Luna (1959). At the same time, the Ken­dall Art Cen­ter (KAC) was in the vor­tex of ex­pand­ing its ex­hi­bi­tion sa­lons, there­fore its di­rec­tor, Ciro Quin­tana, con­sid­ered—for the new space—the idea of set­ting up an in­ter­gen­er­a­tional di­a­logue be­tween dif­fer­ent artists hav­ing a com­mon for­ma­tion, the In­sti­tuto Su­pe­rior de Arte (Higher In­sti­tute of Arts, Ha­vana).

Be­fore all these ideas and con­flu­ences, I de­cided that Po­ems was the per­fect ti­tle to com­bine the three ex­hi­bi­tions, like in­di­vid­ual po­ems set in the same event. I. Bloom­ing by Lisyanet Ro­dríguez, II. Fu­ga­cious by Gina Pel­lón, Ivonne Fer­rer, Ana

María Sar­lat and Laura Luna; and lastly III. Be­ing by San­dra Ramos (1969), Ana Al­bertina Del­gado (1963), Marlys Fuego (1988) and Grethell Rasúa (1982).

An ex­hibit by women artists, who do not have any in­ten­tional or stated fem­i­nist at­ti­tude. It is sim­ply a com­mu­nion of dis­courses and in­ti­mate po­et­ics with the sub­tle­ness and elegance of good art.

Who is she? Is she an on­to­log­i­cal essence, a dis­cur­sive fig­ure, a his­tor­i­cal con­ve­nience (…)? — Lázara Castel­lanos

I. Bloom­ing

With the Bloom­ing se­ries Lisyanet Ro­dríguez ques­tions the canons of “the ugly” es­tab­lished in western cul­ture. From a deep emo­tional at­tach­ment to na­ture and mankind, she con­sid­ers that ev­ery liv­ing be­ing is beau­ti­ful, since ev­ery birth, ev­ery flow­er­ing—Bloom­ing—is a process of mag­i­cal essence.

On this premise she de­cides—with ex­quis­ite tech­ni­cal skill—to cre­ate works that thrust the spec­ta­tor into “a for­mal ug­li­ness” and “its artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion”. For some sec­onds the au­di­ence is placed at a re­cep­tive cross­road. But she knows how to use in her fa­vor the value of aura in an art­work. From her can­vases and pa­pers she ex­on­er­ates those be­ings that are de­formed, un­bal­anced, in­com­plete, dif­fer­ent, and el­e­vates them to a hi­er­ar­chy of sub­lime beauty. The pains, fears, dispirit­ed­ness suf­fered by her fig­ures are vin­di­cated with keen en­ergy. Since like all the be­ings that come from na­ture, they have unique qual­i­ties, a cer­tain per­fec­tion.

It is in­ter­est­ing to ob­serve how an­i­mal and hu­man rep­re­sen­ta­tion in this se­ries varies di­a­met­ri­cally, even though the theme syn­tagm is the same. The first ones, drawn with color pen­cils on white pa­per, in their poly­mor­phism, de­formed, they have a happy look. How­ever, in the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the hu­man fig­ure the dra­matic qual­ity and suf­fer­ing is ex­pressed. Made on large can­vases with mainly gray and ocher tones, the work is to­tally self-ref­er­en­tial. The artist’s face is re­peated be­fore the spec­ta­tor, and fe­male bod­ies, face­less or with part of their hands and feet sev­ered, emerge. It is as though Lisyanet ex­or­cized her deep­est fears and brought them to light. Con­stantly, the look es­capes, hides, dis­ap­pear… (Hunt­ing But­ter­flies, 2017; Stum­ble, 2016; Hold­ing on, 2016). And she looks at us, she does not ques­tion us, just poses, as a float­ing be­ing from an­other world (Fallen Princess). “They can be dis­qui­et­ing and piti­ful, also dra­matic, ro­man­tic and melan­cholic. But I al­ways strive to in­spire feel­ings of love, sweet­ness, kind­ness and ten­der­ness that are an eter­nal and uni­ver­sal part of the hu­man con­di­tion”—as­sures the artist.

II. Fu­ga­cious

Like a post­hu­mous trib­ute to Gina Pel­lón, part of her works be­long­ing to the Ro­dríguez Col­lec­tion (col­lec­tion at­tached to KAC, prop­erty of Leonardo Ro­dríguez and fam­ily) were ex­hib­ited. A to­tal of twelve pieces that cover her pro­duc­tion from the 1970’s up to re­cent dates. Can­vases, col­lages, wa­ter­col­ors and pas­tels were the me­dia on which her iconic guaguas (buses) and il­lus­tra­tions for chil­dren spread. Fe­male faces hav­ing strong ex­pres­sion­is­tic fea­tures and some others of beau­ti­ful naïve lines. Her skill­ful use of color is per­ceived at once, the same as her dis­tinc­tive Cuban mark which al­ways went to­gether—al­though she was set­tled in Paris most of her life. No doubt, her work is that of a free spirit that she de­scribed her­self as “a kind of mul­ti­color graf­fiti”.

As guest artists, the Mi­ami-based Ana María Sar­lat, Ivonne Fer­rer and Laura Luna joined Fu­ga­cious with pre­cise works.

The first one with the piece Dear Son (1996) where she presents a great Madonna, ex­tremely sym­bolic and multi-ref­er­en­tial— Maria, Medea—; a song to moth­er­hood and women. A weep­ing fig­ure, with breasts ooz­ing milk and an ab­domen that re­veals a mi­cro uni­verse of life. A pin with a poem is hang­ing from the third chakra. A poem to the son, to man who must not for­get where he comes from, who must not con­tinue the cyclic his­tory of in­equal­i­ties and abuse. “Walk tall, walk hon­est, walk with love…” it chants and lulls. At the same time, when you see the col­ors white-red-blue that pre­vail in the work, you have a glimpse at ref­er­ences to the artist’s iden­tity. The fig­ure be­comes Mother coun­try and the son, thou­sands of men.

In Yarini, an orgy of free­dom (2012) Ivonne Fer­rer links his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences that re­quire a keen spec­ta­tor, able to un­veil be­yond the mere eroti­cism of the piece. The fa­mous pro­curer from San Isidro, a mod­est neigh­bor­hood in Ha­vana, who came to be a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure, is the mo­tive for talk­ing about the course his­tory takes in a given coun­try, cyclic in its pro­cesses, like the way an orgy it­self does. Politics/ his­tory taken or con­sid­ered as plea­sure, promis­cu­ity and adult games. The use of the graphic codes of that epoch and cer­tain ref­er­ence to pop, con­vey a hu­mor­ous and flat­ter­ing wink that the au­thor has no prob­lem to ex­pose: “to dis­man­tle or re­move his­tory’s clothes and to un­dress it in such a way that its tricks are re­vealed.”1

Fi­nally in Laura Luna’s work, the in­flu­ence of Afro-Cuban re­li­gions and spir­i­tual prac­tices is tan­gen­tial and ev­i­dent. In Is­lands of thou­sand paths (2017) a wo­man’s head, in red, is ly­ing on a sea-sky-raft. Par­tic­i­pant and wit­ness of a story. Rib­bons, like braids tied to plugs in her mem­ory, are in­ter­twined with painted ce­ramic boats; a mem­ory as­so­ci­ated to the per­sonal his­tory of mi­gra­tions and changes of the artist. In Bi­cam­eral Pyra­mid (2017) Luna mim­ics the hy­poth­e­sis about the di­vi­sion of cog­ni­tive func­tions into two parts 3000 thou­sand years ago. A part of the brain that talks, an­other that lis­tens and obeys. The work is a male torso in bronze. Many analo­gies arouse.

The con­di­tion of be­ing a wo­man, as­so­ci­ated to di­verse viril­ity spa­ces, has al­ways been one of her great­est an­guishes.

III. Be­ing

In the se­ries Ha­vana-Mi­rage, San­dra Ramos con­structs utopian Ha­vanas. She in­ter­con­nects spa­ces—HAV-MIA/HAV-NY—that are dis­tant ge­o­graph­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally. For this pur­pose she uses bridges, winds, sub­ma­rine-boats, ropes. Or like that Rus­sian tale that I heard so much when I was a child, she de­cides to build Ha­vana on a whale. It is in­ter­est­ing how, when you ap­proach these works, their mir­rors and re­flec­tions drive you into the il­lu­sion of the scene, as though we were one more char­ac­ter. The artist would state:” My work is a bridge, a line con­nect­ing my ideas with those of others and the past and fu­ture of my coun­try, a path to tol­er­ance of dif­fer­ence, to won­der at the world and its beauty, virtue of in­no­cence and utopia”. In the book-ob­ject Search­ing Ithaca (2015) from the se­ries Re­vis­it­ing Mytholo­gies, the jour­ney turns into metaphor, in the retelling of a his­tory of thou­sands. New nar­ra­tions recre­ate the myth: A Ha­vana in­hab­ited by Polyphe­mus, Odysseus ves­sel and its crew ar­riv­ing in Mi­ami bay. “Ithaca gave you a mar­velous jour­ney with­out her you would not have set out. “As you set for Ithaca, hope the voy­age is a long one, full of ad­ven­ture, full of dis­cov­ery”.

On the other hand, Ana Al­bertina’s work has a quite dis­tinc­tive icono­graphic pe­cu­liar­ity. In her pieces, with de­lin­eated fig­ures and bald heads, in­flu­ences of di­verse cul­tures are syn­cretized.

The re­sult is a sui generis work in which char­ac­ters are in­scrutable, mag­i­cal, del­i­cate and com­plex. A world of fan­tasy in which the palette rose ab­so­lutely pre­vails. In Moth and pollen (2017) and

Gold sus­pen­sion (2017) you can per­ceive a di­rect con­nec­tion to the orig­i­nal vi­tal en­ergy. The fig­ures have the power to con­trol the di­vine, the cos­mos. The se­quence is an im­por­tant key, even when tie pieces func­tion in­di­vid­u­ally. See Danc­ing on one foot, The fan­tasies of the half, the Mys­tery of the forms, Green cheese balls, The ab­sence and re­tire­ment (2009). As a whole, the works in the ex­hi­bi­tion deal with sub­jects like the be­ing and its fate and the con­tin­u­ous cy­cles of ex­is­tence.

The se­ries Stars, Travel, Mi Aire (My Air), Bondage and Blank Space are com­bined in a broad range of sup­ports—can­vases,

col­lages, light boxes and pa­per—to show a more el­lip­ti­cal Marlys Fuego in her dis­course. The col­ors and char­ac­ter­is­tic bright­ness of her work are now laid out on dark back­grounds. Once again she plays with ap­pear­ances, what sup­pos­edly looks beau­ti­ful con­ceals a set­ting of mul­ti­ple com­plex­i­ties as­so­ci­ated to child­hood and build­ing the gen­der iden­tity. The dolls turn into re­it­er­a­tion, ho­mog­e­nized in white, they carry Cuban flags like in­ert sol­diers. In the can­vas Bondage, the artist sub­sti­tute pho­tos of other peo­ple for an im­age of her­self. It is handed out to the spec­ta­tor as ob­ject and sub­ject, a model of a care­ful bondage. How­ever, on the con­trary, in Mi aire some dolls un­dergo bind­ing in an abyss of frac­tals. As though child­hood and adult­hood were about re­al­ity and ap­pear­ances.

Grethell Rasúa, with Be­yond Beauty (2017), a se­ries of pho­to­graphs, draw­ings, ob­jects and live plants mod­i­fied by man, keeps be­ing in­ter­ested in “fil­ing sto­ries, likes, ev­i­dences of hu­man ac­tiv­ity from the con­text in which she in­hab­its”. This time her in­ten­tion is to make a frame about the al­ready world­wide phe­nom­e­non of “beau­ti­fi­ca­tion” through the ad­di­tion of paints, vel­vety ma­te­ri­als and even flu­o­res­cent col­ors. She is con­cerned about the ab­surd of “aes­theti­ciz­ing” what is al­ready beau­ti­ful in it­self, but even more about the vi­o­lent be­hav­ior to­wards those be­ings. In the gallery, she places real ex­am­ples, and through draw­ings and pho­tos makes the spec­ta­tor get in­volved, she makes them look minutely, see the ef­fects of such acts. This piece is the start of a vast work that the artist un­doubt­edly will de­velop un­til she feels the ef­fec­tive­ness of her call.

Po­ems is like a sum­mary of dis­sim­i­lar vis­ual dis­courses, sub­jects, gen­er­a­tions and cos­mogo­nies. Be­yond artis­tic prac­tices, for­mats or man­i­fes­ta­tions, the ex­hibit is struc­tured like a skein that al­ways goes back to the start­ing point; to the ques­tion—who is she?—that un­der­lies be­hind each work. ƒ

Gina Pel­lón’s skill­ful use of color is per­ceived at once, the same as her dis­tinc­tive Cuban mark. No doubt, her work is that of a free spirit that she de­scribed her­self as “a kind of mul­ti­color graf­fiti”.

SAN­DRA RAMOS

Search­ing Ithaca. From the se­ries Re­vis­it­ing Mytholo­gies, 2015 Mir­ror Plex­i­glas, wood, eraser, dig­i­tal print

13 x 79 x 72 inches

Cour­tesy the artists

ANA AL­BERTINA DEL­GADO Po­lilla y polen, 2017

Acrylic on can­vas

40 x 40 inches

Cour­tesy the artist

GINA PEL­LÓN

Un­ti­tled

Mixed me­dia on pa­per

26 x 18½ inches

Cour­tesy The Ro­dríguez Col­lec­tion

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