Leocentric and in single quoted rhetoric

/ 1 September, 2018

Leonado Luis Roque—Leo—is a “personaje.” He believes he is a fish swimming against the current knowing that in the attempt he can die electrocuted. Or transcend. Because in his discourse the idea of “success” becomes an obsession, shamelessly disturbing. And it’s not that he insolently declares his weakness for success, his audacity points in another direction. He “doesn’t want praises or applauses,” at least not if he obtains them easily. That’s why he preserves unscathed his rebelliousness, his “freakishness,” his absurd and impressive manners. And it looks good on him, since his is not one related to forced show-business people.

Curtailment is among the reasons of this unruly projection. Leo’s enrolment in the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) coincided with the fourth pragmatic attempt by René Francisco (…). The generational quarrel that singularizes the thinking of the Balada Tropical—and of Leo in particular—also derives from the unfortunate selection process. They declare their belonging to a blank generation, with no ideologies or doctrines that sustain it, “desolate, annoyed, hurt from the root.” Despite this, they clamor for the confrontation with the preceding generations: “this generation,” Leo indicates, “must bark, bite, kill if need be to be heard by the old and insensitive Apis cows, which during a period were goddesses of fertility and today are only mournful gods riding roughshod over the offshoots of new minds.”

But this artist’s prose not only presumes of aggressiveness. He is an infrequent combination of uncontrollable causticity and poetry (and “teasing,” of course). Fanatical about El arco y la lira by Octavio Paz, Leo insists on determining the consistency of art, its foundations, even when he knows of the impossibility of the project. “Muscular activity (….) Return to childhood, coitus, nostalgia of paradise, of hell, of limbo. Game, work, ascetic activity,” says Paz about poetry. And Leo with “Octavian” willpower also overflows in precisions: “painting is like a religious practice to which it is possible to return to confess my sins, my phobias, my whims, my loves, my dead, the exquisite vertigos generated by that nest of unfathomable white beasts that is the firmament.” But later, he sarcastically sabotages those romantic aspects by concluding that art is no more than a delicious vanilla ice cream to quench human thirst.

Leo’s work is understood based on that “poetic aggressiveness of the teasing.” As a consequence, the pieces are not offered tamed to the exegesis: they are conserved almost intact to the delight. Because, in addition, the artist blames rhetoric for this. He usually opens a circle with the presentation of the materiality that interests him, be it object or pictorial, and encloses it with a title that emphasizes the displayed content.

In recent years, however, the artist has been working on the series Pintura política. For those who think that revolution is skating through the city streets like an awkward adolescent, the proposed notion of politics cannot be the conventional. With dates annotated in the titles, the floral compositions are multiplied ad libitum: only flowers, as if they were postcards. The dates, as the only clue, act as references. Births and deaths of artists (Gauguin, Monet, Tolstoy, Borromini….). Births and deaths of works: while Da Vinci’s fling machine is put to the test, the paintings of Botticelli burn in the Bonfire of Vanities. Everything points to a creative cycle, configured according to Leo’s point of view. Thus he softens politics turning it into the softener of his florid canvases. (…)

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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