Painting and Open Theater

/ 1 September, 2018

Years ago Manuel López Oliva (Cuba, 1947) chose to aim his reflections on individual ethics and its representations (…) on a social level. With a trade learned in the late 1960s, as a member of the first group of students from the then National School of Art and of the group that won the first Prize for Novel Artists at the Paris May Salon (1967), he developed in the midst of Cuban painting’s stage of great splendor that, in my opinion, took place again as never before (remember Antonia Eiriz, Servando Cabrera, Mariano Rodríguez, Wifredo Lam, René Portocarrero, Luis Martínez Pedro, Loló Soldevilla, Antonio Vidal, Umberto Peña, Masiques, Fayad Jamís, Pedro de Oráa, Raúl Martínez, among others). (…) Leaving behind subjects and matters of various kinds (…), López Oliva now aims to reveal to us simulations and deceitfulness in individuals possessed of subtle skills to hide ideas behind subtle masks and theater decorations that strongly emerge in our complex ideological, political and economic context.

He paints in silence, almost hidden from the eyes of friends and neighbors (…). He likes to work in solitude, far from dates, calendars, bureaucratic lack of understanding, in his studio on Paula Street, (…) where his hopes are lifted knowing that nearby, a few meters away, José Martí was born at the start of that foundational and turbulent second half of the 19th century.

He has channeled his painting into Cuban ethicalness, “that sun of the moral world” about which Cintio Vitier spoke. But an ethicalness of here and now, with unpretentious historicalness, emerging from the knowledge and detailed observation of the immediate reality. For this he organizes his canvases as representational spaces (…). The paintings appear before us as set designs, compact and spatial atmospheres from which characters emerge with a cynical or indulgent, astute look in their eyes, viewing in a deeply moving way around them or fling through the air in Chagallian surreal allusions.

(…) His works penetrate one of the central focuses of discussions today in the world based on the so many changes in the last decades that confirm the urgency of paying attention to it through any means at our reach. (…) His pieces are located midway between the representational and the metaphoric, between the graphic synthesis and the baroque pictorial framework. They are pieces inserted in an exceedingly hybrid, mixed culture (…) that has notable examples in the field of architecture, music and literature and that have served to somehow “identify ourselves” in the cultural complex of the Caribbean and Latin America. (…)

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Nelson Herrera Ysla

Art critic, curator, poet. He is co-founder of the Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Center and of the Havana Biennial, an event he led from 1999 to 2001, and where he is currently curator. He has lectured in numerous countries and published numerous critical texts in specialized publications of Cuba and abroad. General Curator of the XVI Paiz Biennial of Guatemala, 2008. Essay Jury of the Casa de las Américas Prize, 2005, and international art events in Latin America. National Award for Arts Criticism Guy Pérez Cisneros, 2007, and National Prize for Curators 2013, both in Cuba.

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