Kaleidoscopic dialogue with Aldo Ménendez

/ 25 November, 2016

Talking to Aldo Menéndez is opening a thousand topics and having the sensation of never ending. I have the impression that this interview, dialogue, meeting, finishes with suspensión points. As opening a link and another based on that one, and that a hypertext appeared, but in which always the thousand voices of Aldo are many in which his vast culture, bookish and existential, goes its own way.

This text, of course, cannot cover his entire life, all his career. It is rather centered in his present project Retratos en Chino (Portraits in Chinese), in which Aldo has put together an amalgam of languages that go from collage, advertising and digital art to painting. I think that his certainty lies today, precisely, in the harmony he achieves, perceptible even in the way he talks and in his youthful nimbleness, because he has never lost the capacity of amazement and of living in this, his, our time. (…)

How do you build your present proposal?

First, we must highlight the role of appropriation: I make myself the idea of an artist similar to the Voyager 1, a ship that in a fiction film returns after traveling the space, bringing with itself everything it collected. I have tried to combine that information, that in my case are news of this time and of the history of contemporary art, and to interpret it, presenting on each supposed screen a picture never devoid of critical elements, where I also introduce social profiles, individual and collective, tributes and parodies.

For me it is leaning out the thousand present forms of living and understanding each other… and I also think it implies a metaphor of current disconnections. I feel that this dialogue between the concept and the language makes your work a superposition of forms, styles, codes and ideas that flow in perfect harmony.

I rehearse a symphony which hopes to relate even a certain epocal chaos. I want to be like an attractor and organizing all my way. On the other hand, it has the particularity of give testimony of the emergence of an epic. Which one? The technological era expressed on the very idea of the screens. Humanity had never been able to draw together so much: not even by the Esperanto, the religions, the trade, the ideological powers or the wars; suddenly the computer and its screen communicate any man wherever he may be. These are recent postulates I try to fit in my 68 years, with the element in favor of having maintained me always on the side of the transgression and of the youngsters tuning with the changes.

The work is called Retratos en chino… Why the title?

When you talk about “techno-experience” paraphernalia, if you do not understand anything, you say: “You are talking Chinese”. I think that no serious artist is aspiring to a 100 per cent understanding. I pretend to design an impacting explosion and make use of the “performance element”—that is how Vargas Llosa defines it—, later I enter into constellations of messages, the historical quote with scarce literary narrative and a good number of combined symbolic attributes, in general and local level. (…)

You have work in a macro-project prepared and self-financed for six years. This shows your faith and perseverance in what you do, but I want to know when the artist intuition begins and ends, and where that of the intellectual…

In this type of set of almost seventy pieces, each one of them with its own content, it is necessary to calculate and plan to avoid insurmountable repetitions and discrepancies, even when I have a large trajectory in complicated pictorial installations which surmounts that presented in the National Museum in 1984, Paisaje para un Elefante Blanco (Landscape for a White Elephant), First Havana Biennial, or the prizewinning in the Salón UNEAC 85: Buzón de Críticas y Sugerencias (Mailbox of Critics and Suggestions). Without supplanting the spontaneity, leaving a wide margin to improvisation and experimentation.

I notice it is a mature project, but at the same time loaded with freshness, where you achieve the balance between both things…

Retratos en Chino is the main dish of the exhibition I am preparing, and I bet on it because of evidencing this light world with its high degree of trivialization, where with the ideologies exhausted a regime, maneuvers to impose as  universal  archetype  the  trade  and the money, smoothing out  the  tone  of  the  anti-establishment  and critical argumentation that, in issues as the Cuban ones, I link with an  almost  caricatured  humor  and  the  poetics  of  everyday  life. (…)

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