I want to write about Eduardo M. Abela, but I wouldn’t like to repeat “more of the same,” nor make this a theoretical text about the use of the pastiche or the postmodern intertextuality in his work.
(…) Eduardo M. Abela is the third of the Abelas who made of art one more reason to live. His grandfather (Eduardo Abela), a caricaturist and a driving force of Cuban avant-gardism in the 1920s, was the author of a character (“El Bobo”) which had a great effect in that period’s society (…). And his father, by the same name, cultivated abstractionism with expressionist nuances, bequeathing a master work for Cuban art. The Abela we’re writing about, the third of that dynasty of illustrious artists, was born in 1963, and although initially he had a greater inclination for music (…) he ended up deciding for the specialty of engraving in the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts (…).
Abela is a restless man. He is always in movement, from here to there. Perhaps that’s why his art is so varied, inclusive and uncatchable, even when some classified him for some time as “neo-cartoonist” or “post-medievalist.” In my opinion the “isms”, while they can respond to a methodology of the historians and critics, are counterproductive—because they are reductionist—when it comes to studying the work of an artist (…).
If I had to describe Abela and his work with a single word, this would be, without a doubt, “Cubanness.” And the thing is that we are before a Cuban through and through, who lives and enjoys his identity, his culture, his social context, his Cuban roots. But that doesn’t mean that his work boils down to the mere circumstances of our surroundings; his art is free (…) and that’s why it is more universal and transcends the here, the now, the most superficial immediacy. His works are like the murmurings that accompany Havana’s busiest streets: they weave hundreds of stories, they take delight in flirtatious comments, they sing a song, they burst out laughing…they speak of himself, although also about me, you, of all of Cuba. And, at the same time, they dialogue about a Japanese tourist, a refined Englishman, a U.S. art collector, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, José Martí, a famous artist and even fiction characters like Snoopy, Homer Simpson or Popeye.
(…) Abela is, par excellence, a chronicler of his time. (…) Suffice it for some socio-cultural problem, some event of interest, or even a generalized gossip on a national level to emerge for him to get there immediately, brush in hand, deciding to reflect it with special irony. (…) His visual universes are full of sarcasm and parodies.
With irony as an ally, Abela unmasks the most sacred and solemn discourses, be they religious, political or cultural. But this process of profanation and demystification is not always funny and much less a joke. (…) That’s why his humor is not always happy; on occasions it is irony that expresses the pain, anguish and uncertainty of current life. The ambiguity of his works is always an invitation to a more detailed, less superficial reading; it becomes an antidote against imposed truths and the marred absolutism of many mentalities. (…)