In iniquitatibus conceptus sum

/ 1 September, 2017

Luis Gómez’s artistic proposal is certainly intense, consistent. However, it would not have the same extent, taking into account its irreverence and harshness, if in his attitude as an artist Luis did not maintain his cynicism and commitment. He has not hesitated to reject sponsors, to never set foot on renowned exhibition spaces, to lash into those who play from their authority, to tell the truths face to face. Luis—everybody knows—is feared as much as his work. He is an artist consistent with his way of doing.

And like this, he got to the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana. Of course, his access to this place is explained, in essence, because of the sensible vision of a new director who strangely combines sagacity with power. It is obvious that is less dangerous and therefore better for Cuban institutions and their specialists to dialogue with artists that are “politically correct”, but fortunately Jorge Fernández is willing to consider risk. The responsibility of creating a New Media Laboratory at the Higher Institute of Arts (ISA), the conception of the exhibit Ven y mea en mi puerta (Come and piss on my doorstep) at the Wifredo Lam Center for Contemporary Art and the participation at the 56th Venice Biennial are actions that evidence Jorge’s confidence in Luis Gómez and that have preceded his entrance into this Cuban museum enclosure, without having to obtain the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas (National Visual Arts Award) for this purpose.

Ji, Ji, Ji1 (Apostrophe) was the title of Luis’s exhibit at the Edificio de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Building) that took place from February to April, 2017. This exhibit was part of a sort of trilogy together with two other exhibitions: the aforementioned Ven y mea en mi puerta (February, 2014) and Polite and B_Side (December, 2014). And I say trilogy, since the three exhibitions maintained not only the same research line, but also similar operating forms, sharing even some of the pieces—which sometimes were a cover version. In a general sense, the artist insisted on presenting the functioning of the current art system in the island, the power relations and the conflicts of interests underlying the production and the legitimization of an artistic proposal. The censorious look of Luis Gómez’s (which he insists on substituting for “personal appreciation”) was aimed not at the market, as an abstract and impersonal entity, but at the actors within the circuit, whether they are collectors, critics, officials, specialists or even the creators themselves and their manipulation strategies.

(…) Ji, Ji, Ji (Apostrophe) was less hurtful, more cryptic, as many would comment. The exhibition at the Museum softened a little the sordid mockery of Polite… combining it with the protest contained in a piece like Miserere exhibited in Ven y mea en mi puerta. The reference to the apostrophe, as a rhetorical device that pursues mercy, interrupted pathetically the alleged joke. Once again it was about cynicism, a cynicism that did not overlook any detail. The conception of the catalogue, for example, obviated the reproduction of the pieces images in order to refer critical texts in foreign languages (German, Italian…) Possibly the effort that many people made trying to decode the text lines was greater than trying to understand the artistic gesture itself—lack of hints or clues that might explain the alleged cryptic character. Anyway, the author’s intention of discoursing on the spectators’ vice to prefer the theoretical sources, as they which prevail in the legitimation of a work, is evident.

However, the cynicism in Ji, Ji, Ji…was aimed mainly at institutions, and especially at the ones operating in our context, which was not surprising given the fact that the previous exhibitions had brought focus on artists and curator-critics. The most affected ones—but not the only ones—were Galleria Continua, the Ludwig Foundation and the very Museum of Fine Arts where the exhibit was shown. (…)

PD: “In iniquitatibus conceptus sum” is a fragment taken from Psalm 51 known as Miserere. The verse appears referred in Latin respecting the original language in which it was written.

Marilyn Payrol

Marilyn Payrol

(Santa Clara, 1990). Graduate of Art History at the University of Havana. Professor of Theory and Criticism at the University of the Arts (ISA). She is the editor of the website of Art OnCuba magazine. Their texts are available Artecubano News and Art OnCuba website.

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