The objective of the artist as a powerful and prominent being in the social change or improvement has been, since ages questioned and relativized. Nevertheless, the contemporary author has not stop setting himself up as an analyst of the world he lives in, maybe not with a transformational romantic spirit anymore, but as part of his own work. His relation with the context, which is more directly proposed in some cases than in others, keeps modulating the artistic proposals and the current visual discourses, in the world and in Cuba.
Frank Martinez is a renowned artist in our field because of his eagerness of going deeper in the bends of the social and cultural processes in which we are immersed. His personal exhibition Penetraciones, opened at the gallery Artis 718 last Friday February 10, displays this intention. The works deal with such a historically problematic topic as identity. Reflections on the power of cultural and symbolic influences, the interference, impositions achieved through subtle visual saturations are situated in sceneries that at first sight could refer to a Caribbean concept seen in its subordinate generality. But the museographic solution has no space for misinterpretations: the grandeur of this overflowed breakwater in the work Muscle, placed as a welcome in the gallery, leaves very clearly the proximity to an even closer reality.
The locations of this and other works, in which the motif of water flooding the city widely characterized as La Habana is repeated, refers to an everyday Cuban event. Nevertheless it would be to keep within narrow limits the conceptual extent of the proposal, if it is only anchored at the current times. The discourse of this exhibition is based on the chronics of a much longer and antique history told through the pair penetration–resistance. From this idea, the artist shows a unique approach, in which the scale could be tipped to one element of this pair, or simply tries to find a balanced point.
The artist uses the history in favor of the discourse, supported by visual testimonies, is interested in giving some evidence connotations to his analysis, presenting a multiple diachronic look at the topic. His effort is similar to that of the scientist, who works hard to find the truth, since the gathering and analysis of the knowledge and facts which he is certain about. The difference in the work of an artist is that he needs to go above the limits of the verifiable, set out predictions, combine factual and subjective truth and sum them up through the complex language of the pictorial work of art.
To this purpose, perfectly praises the selection of what could be called contemporary hyper realism. A set of works are made in charcoal on fabrics and others make use of pastel, this technique combined with digital printing, to bring interesting solutions, not only at the formal level, but also remarkable for its conceptual cleverness. Therefore, the evidence of the form, allows the audience to decipher the symbolic connotations of the elements in the painting , relate and compare them to their own reality. It is not to discover, through the complex association, the relation of the symbols found in the work with a possible interpretation that has nothing to do with them but it is to asociate metaphores, too evident in some occasions, and the vast visual referent about daily life in this city in constant move.
Penetraciones is an exhibition in which sensorial enjoyment is displayed, combined with the sensation of surprise considering the discovery of symbolic anachronisms included in the works. The use of the heavy rain and the flood as a motif, can also be understood as apocalyptic, but the topic the works deal with, goes beyond the limitations of a simple out and out pessimism. The prevailing black and white colors do not refer to the gloomy, but to the nuance, a way to homogenize history and contemporary issues, a away of giving the works and life the needed taste of what is relative.