AJUBEL’S MEM­ORY AND AJUBEL’S OBLIV­ION

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Nei­ther in Cézanne’s views of the Sainte-Vic­toire moun­tain, nor in those of Tahiti by Gau­guin, nor those of Ar­les by Van Gogh... not even in those of Mont­martre by Toulouse-Lautrec, the man of the images pre­car­i­ously sub­ject to ac­cu­racy (to name some of the painters that at some point nur­tured Ajubel’s bud­ding gaze), is there an ex­plicit will of re­al­ity in what is de­picted, but rather the self-suf­fi­cient ten­sion to go a lit­tle fur­ther from the lit­eral and find the point of con­tact be­tween the false and the true, the ap­par­ent and the es­sen­tial, or the sen­sual, in its most ju­bi­lant ver­sion, and the con­cep­tual. Just as we would not find that will in the painter that our Cuban artist (Al­berto Mo­rales Ajubel, Sagua la Grande, Cuba, 1956) wanted to be as a child: Rem­brandt, of whom Ja­cob Rosen­berg said that “in his work the di­vide be­tween the re­al­is­tic and the imag­i­nary can­not be clearly traced.”

With­out ever dis­miss­ing that early vo­ca­tion, Ajubel ap­plied him­self for years to an­other skill, that of draw­ing, with which he im­parted his knowl­edge from the pages of the myth­i­cal “DDT,” demon­strat­ing his abil­i­ties in that ter­ri­tory, to syn­the­size the mul­ti­ple metaphors and para­doxes that speak to us of the ef­fort of men to de­fine them­selves as in­di­vid­u­als.

Sooner rather than later we knew, how­ever, as a hap­pily dis­turb­ing graphic style had been an­nounc­ing, that Ajubel the painter would fully re­turn to ar­gue with what is ex­ter­nal and ac­ci­den­tal in this present in which moder­nity is in ques­tion.

The set­tled re­al­ity—even the un­real re­al­ity—and the screens, open twenty-four hours, gen­er­at­ing an ec­static col­lec­tive blind­ness. Now that the mean­ing of a work of art comes more from speak­ing, or from ly­ing, than see­ing.

And thus he has fi­nally de­cided to show us his beau­ti­ful phan­tas­mago­ria, which can be su­per­fi­cially mis­read as an evo­ca­tion of his trop­i­cal ori­gins, a sort of stroll through the pri­mor­dial house of mem­ory, be­tween folk­lorism and an in­di­genism at times in­com­pre­hen­si­ble; no more or less than what a for­eign spec­ta­tor would ex­pect from the deep Cuban­ness of his demi­urge, “Cuban art for ex­port,” just an­other pur­veyor of the is­land’s or­na­men­ta­tion ready for un­re­flec­tive con­sump­tion. Which is not the case. Which is not his case.

Be­cause I have al­ways seen in Ajubel’s eyes a kind of per­ma­nent game of pho­to­graphic shut­ters, in which as soon as one, or both, of them closed, or were kept open, look­ing to print some images in his mind of just the right point of im­pre­ci­sion to be able to later dis­miss them and not have, there­fore, to sur­ren­der slav­ishly to their ev­i­dence. Images that in their own con­di­tion of weak­ened or over­ex­posed in­stan­ta­ne­ity would pos­sess some­thing of the grounds of the eter­nal. Or, if you pre­fer, some­thing of the con­science as pic­to­rial sub­ject, which is what a good part of the best mod­ern artis­tic premises came to pro­vide.

But, as this pro­ce­dure is a good way to recre­ate the cre­ated and to be­stow the far away with more vivid­ness, in these paint­ings there is an­other course of ac­tion, or so it seems to me, that awak­ens in me the skep­ti­cism which I am al­ways in pur­suit of when met with a work, look­ing for what it har­bors from ex­pe­ri­ence.

I re­fer to the per­ma­nent dis­cord that pre­sides in his paint­ing, a dis­cord that ex­plodes in an abun­dance of chro­matic sparks, so fluid at times be­tween mem­ory and obliv­ion; the two sides of a per­sonal iden­tity that in­dis­tinctly views his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy in both mir­rors of his mind, to ex­tract some images which we do not know if about to be erased or reaf­firmed, and that, to that ex­tent, only we, the spec­ta­tors, can amnesty or con­demn, grant­ing them a be­fore or af­ter.

The paint­ing, then, of a stub­born modernist whose sen­si­tiv­ity moved him as a child to be like Rem­brandt, which to­day com­pels him to dis­card the hege­mony of a com­pla­cent vi­sion and to adopt one that re­veals his sen­si­tiv­ity to an­other pos­si­ble world and that, de­spite his de­fense of “the truly alive” as ex­pressed by Greenberg, does not hes­i­tate to reestab­lish the rel­e­vant contacts with tra­di­tion, any tra­di­tion, to be re­in­forced through con­trast. A game of mir­rors, in the end, that is ob­vi­ously born of a pre­vi­ous in­fat­u­a­tion that, later, sub­jected to a man­aged obliv­ion and a con­trolled mem­ory, goes through a meta­mor­pho­sis phase, which Ajubel some­times lets us glimpse, to end up be­ing a dec­la­ra­tion of love to the cre­ation it­self, that which is sim­ply time paused and is in­spired by a mys­tery that, in­ci­den­tally, and ob­vi­ously, is re­vealed to us. A mys­tery reg­u­lated by an avowed self­con­scious en­emy of cor­rupted sen­si­tiv­ity, and in which ev­ery­thing has the ap­pear­ance of tak­ing place for the first time, that the painter and we are in­vent­ing a nat­u­ral world, partly utopian, and free of hy­per­boles, which is the fruit of a vol­un­tar­ily shared and con­sciously happy ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ajubel’s eu­phoric dreams are made for our vig­ils, which seem to be pro­duced with the sole ob­jec­tive of com­ple­ment­ing them. ƒ

Lucy, from the se­ries Mir­rors, 2014 Mixed me­dia 16 x 22 in Jinete el­e­gante, from the se­ries Horses, 2017 Mixed me­dia 27 x 39 in

Malecón-Habana, from the se­ries Utopian Tropic, 2014 / Mixed me­dia / 39 x 20 in La Pelota, from the se­ries Base­ball, 2017 / Mixed me­dia / 27 x 39 in

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