On Roberto Fabelo’s Recent Drawings

/ 19 July, 2014

(…) Roberto Fabelo (Guáimaro, 1951) seems to have come to the world with a pencil in his hand, instead of the handy bread under his armpit. Trained in the National School of Art (ENA) with those professors, he continued his studies in the Higher Art Institute (ISA) where, after graduating, was a professor for several years. It was there I met him and it was from there that my early memories of his passion for drawing came. (…)When the piece Fragmentos vitales (Vital Fragments), displayed by Roberto Fabelo in the 1984 Havana Biennial, pasted whatever way on a wall, with no glass, once and forever aroused my passion for contemporary drawing and made me understand all the poetry some strokes of charcoal on a humble and modest wrapping paper could have.

The piece had been created in ISA when, in a boring night, the then young professor bumped into some thick crayons in a drawer, and some kraft paper. He tore some of the paper, and its irregular cut would give a new meaning to his work. So, on a table with a rough surface, following the profile of the paper, Vital Fragments emerged and surprised all of us who at the time had the privilege to see it.

Some day the value of this piece will be acknowledged in Cuban Art History, because until then no other artist had transgressed in that way the form of a flat oeuvre in the field of national art.

(…) Much time has gone by. Just a few days ago, I bumped into Fabelo’s most recent drawings, which again have moved me, this time because of his capacity to extract expressive qualities with a deep poetic meaning from peculiar support, imparting a delicate and refined beauty to those small and aged papers. While I watched these drawings on pages taken from an old anatomy book, a method that sent me back to the practice he had started in Fragmentos Vitales, I thought about how much apparently hazardous inspiration there is in the oeuvre of a creator working pencil in hand. That gesturing, in combination with an individual sensitivity, has heightened his observation skill, allowing him to give free rein to imagination and his special visual intelligence. Not long ago, he commented to me: “That thing you call poetry is an attraction some supports have, since they have a memory of their own. The only thing you do is intervening in that existence, in that memory.” And later, reflecting on the origin and nature of this series, he explained: “These supports incite me to somewhat violate their condition. The pages of an anatomy book are attractive per se. They have tremendous solutions and creativity. I thought it was almost a sacrilege to manipulate them, to intervene in them, but in the end that vice of mine dragging me to perdition was more potent, and I drew on those images, creating a new one, and also using some texts as titles. Anatomic terms that, when decontextualized, when you take them out of the sentence or of the book itself, of the specific description, turn into poetry. This is a little game.”

(…)If, for some, a drawing is still a point of departure, a sketch or a note to transfer to other expressions considered of greater value, for an artist like Fabelo it still is a form of creation whose expressive charge is flooded by a very individual spirituality and poetry. This new series, some of whose examples are reproduced in these pages for the enjoyment of our readers, thus confirms it.

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