Another Abstraction

/ 1 September, 2016

The strong trend to abstraction in Cuba, and of painting as a notable expression of our visual arts, has in Alejandro García (Havana, 1974) one of its protagonists. Formed in the almost bicentenary San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts between 1989 and 1993, and after exhibiting in Cuba, Italy and the United States, he is not, however, an artist known as it should be in the Cuban art scene, since his personality alien to groups, institutions, movements and media makes him a sort of lone wolf in the national panorama.

(…) Alejandro García is, essentially, close to the alchemist who invests uncountable hours searching for the philosopher’s stone, of what is extraordinary, of what is sublime. He experiments with canvases and Bristol boards for a total crossbreeding, ready to take both of his infinite possibilities when intervened with absolute freedom, with no prejudice at all. He works with used or broken canvases to engrave on them, as well as using engraved Bristol boards to paint on their surface. Most of the times he prints on a screw press reconstructed by himself, or leaves his footprints muddy with painting on the support because of the absence of equipment. He prefers that canvases, as well as Bristol board, had previously suffered changes so as not to feel any guilt at all when modifying them at his whim. It can be said that he works as to recover them forever, in a sort of resurrection, as if he were redeeming a corpse and giving it life… in what we could consider a two-dimensional creole version of Frankestein.

He even had retaken several of his “finished” works, considers them again and thus begins an almost infinite process of reconversion because, for him, nothing is finished, concluded, but in constant progress. Grosso modo, he covers the engravings with canvas and engraves the canvases with full self-assurance, since the expression problems are the most important for him, the dearest in his innate creative world.

It is not difficult to suppose that this controversial way of creating is fully expressed in Cuba, where he does not has at his disposal all the necessary or desired materials given the insufficiencies of specialized stores. In Italy, for example, where he goes for short periods of time, he uses what he has at hand (which is much more than what he finds in his studio in Havana) without representing anguish or anxiety when deciding the appropriate solutions. In one or other case, of course, he acts in the medieval method to prepare the canvases. He refuses to use canvases industrially prepared: that is how we can see him placing the Rabbit-Skin Glue or the Fish Glue on the canvas just as in their time Da Vinci, Miguel Ángel, Wifredo Lam or Amelia Peláez did… Then it is the turn for the Linseed Oil, for the Whiting, until leaving the canvas ready to accept oils, inks and acrylics.

(…) His most recent show, part of the group of collateral exhibitions in the Twelfth Havana Biennial, entitled Zona Franca, in one of the vaulted spaces in the Morro Castle, assured in the catalogue that you could “…perceive the temperature of the structure of the works […] The idea conforms itself in the creation process. It is the consequence of an accumulation of information and of experiences that affect me, positively or negatively…” In that occasion, although his attitude and aptitude were exceedingly fed from abstraction, in the vast composition of hard, cracked, roasted colors, he equally legitimated the figure of a tiger or a sign in Italian he considered prudent, without minding much the purity of the genre, since its levels of contamination and of irreverence are well high, and still are, without need to resort to blasphemy, parody or cynicism, since I consider him further away from what in past times was named as “rebel”. He is a rebellious artist, but of himself and of painting. (…)

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Art critic, curator, poet. He is co-founder of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and of the Havana Biennial, an event he led from 1999 to 2001, and where he is currently curator. He has lectured in numerous countries and published numerous critical texts in specialized publications of Cuba and abroad. General Curator of the XVI Paiz Biennial of Guatemala, 2008. Essay Jury of the Casa de las Américas Prize, 2005, and international art events in Latin America. National Award for Arts Criticism Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007, and National Prize for Curators 2013, both in Cuba.

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