Lezama and the Lines

/ 5 October, 2014

(…) Besides being an art critic since 1935, and in his position as a writer-storyteller, Lezama was a (modest) collector of visual arts. He saw art and visited decisive and forgotten exhibitions. Some of them inspired him to write. Perhaps, if he had had more space, he would have kept a larger number of originals. He must have been pleased with what he had. Today the list of (most of) his pieces is very easy to express: of “a total of fifty-four assessed, forty are by Cuban painters, six by foreigners and eight are unidentified. Of them, forty-one are paintings, eleven are drawings and two are engravings. Only in six of these works is Lezama portrayed (…)”.1 A relative figure, as we will see.

Visible, that is, framed and hung, were drawings by Roberto Diago, René Portocarrero, Arístides Fernández, Mariano Rodríguez… (…) In the Trocadero house not everything would have been in view and hanging from the walls. Original works were also kept in strategic areas, as any collector would have done. That is why, in the case of drawings, he had more than eleven in his collection.

He treasured them in the other walls of the house and in another sentimentally close and special place. The eleven assessed towards the nineties are frenzy in lines, mathematically exact and poetic.

(…)We have something similar with an almost intimate document whose visual value perhaps has gone unnoticed: the so-called “Álbum o Libro de los amigos” (Album or Book of Friends) José Lezama Lima had and made − on his own initiative? − from 1965 on. (…)

1. Bermúdez, Jorge R. Antología visual. José Lezama Lima en la plástica y la gráfica cubanas (Visual Anthology. José Lezama Lima in Cuban Plastic Arts and Graphics), Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 2010, p. 19. (His analysis is based on what still is the guide to Lezama’s art collection: pp. 315-316 of the book La visualidad infinita. José Lezama Lima – Infinite Visuality. José Lezama Lima − Introduction, critical study, selection and notes by Leonel Capote. Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 1994. Capote made and finished the guide at the end of the eighties as part of his Paralelos − Parallels − Diploma Work, Arts and Letters Faculty, Havana University, 1989, p. 48, note 1).

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