Agustín, (our) sculptor

/ 19 July, 2014

(…) Agustín Cárdenas. Las formas del silencio (The Forms of Silence).1 Is there a better way to describe the selection? The path this time marked with AC in a new exhibition in the Island has been infinitely invaluable for the reflections and cultural essences established even in a symbol and/or myth of our insular art. Just like those editorial solutions that, since the nineties, several of our (cultural) magazines made with wisdom on him and his creation. (…)

The cold figure of AC’s twenty-four sculptures and eight drawings that was circulated, with previous e-mail notice before the opening, has been much more verifiable in one of the areas of the top floor of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center, Havana. Digits say little in abstract. And, there, numerical abstraction has been solid, compact. Access to the hall has made us notice the variegation of a well-known group, the strength of the carving, the impact of height in some cases, the subtleties of the horizontal lines: all and more at the same time. A feeling of amalgam, which we appreciate only at the beginning, can still be felt. It has been asphyxiating, but extremely necessary, to watch this – unknown? – artistic reality by AC in spite of the dates, of his artistic instincts and dictates, because, undoubtedly, his extensive Parisian oeuvre “exalts and enhances us” but “it is fair to admit, we know very little” of it.2

(…)The assemblage has been overwhelming: an ocean of forms that have almost floated on some barely perceptible pedestals, but equally sober and firm for doubtlessly heavy pieces. This we sensed. We only missed lifting, touching, feeling them and comparing qualities and data, impossible to know within the limits of a museum or a gallery. The brush of our sight has not been enough. Forms at times demand what is tactile, because that is another way of completing a certain kind of information that we almost never know or always fantasize. Not touching changes the dialogue, which becomes incomplete. And AC’s art, rather optical and also of feelings, rests better in the wishes of owners or collectors, who do enjoy it at ease, whenever the time. Privileged people. (…)

In the catalogue of the exhibition, there is a suggestion for the Cuban audience to have a “close – and exclusive – meeting with the most universal of its sculptors.” It disconcerts me, but I rather enjoy the epithet. And try to understand the meaning enclosing at the same time an involuntary injustice. Because, for

years, Alfredo Lozano, Juan Jose Sicre, Roberto Estopiñan… were also away from the Island… with universality courses perhaps similar to those Agustin Cardenas reached. But in their case, is it a universality that could not be accompanied by writing, dialogue or friendship with knowing and key figures, who (un) consciously open doors and remain as an eternal wonderment in an artistic legacy? What do we know and what do we still have to know? With him, we approach the observation of a contemporary of his, when enumerating the international firms highlighting and complementing him: a large group of “critics with an acknowledged prestige (…) who are an enviable list in his bibliography.”3 These were chances, the fruit of an unquestionable talent. Conjunction and chance. History. (…)

  1. From April 11 to May 13, 2014
  2. Pereira, María de los Ángeles: “Cárdenas, el paisaje interior que nos convoca” (Cárdenas, the Inner Landscape Calling Us), in the catalogue of the exhibition Agustín Cárdenas. Las formas del silencio. Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center, Havana, April 11 – March 13, 2014.
  3. de Oráa, Pedro: “Cárdenas: árbitro de la forma” (Cárdenas: Arbitrator of the Form) in his Visible e invisible (Visible and Invisible), Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 2006, pp. 183-192. (Quote on p. 191).

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