“Only the knife knows the soul of the yam” 1
When we enter the exhibition hall of the Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art, we are overwhelmed by the beauty and conceptual synthesis of a proposal that invites us to hold a dialogue with the set of works and with each one of the pieces that make up the visual discourse of admirable consistency, integrated in El Poder de tu Alma (The Power of Your Soul.)
(…) The excellence of Roberto Diago’s work constantly invites me – or invites us – to think deeply and appreciate the provocation ability of a visual poetics characterized, on this occasion, by the synthesis and profound thought supporting it.
In this set of works, Diago, from an abstraction of splendid poetic realism, leads us to reflect on, and feel more in depth the historical drama of the resistance of black men and women, dating back to the centuries of the slave trade, slavery and maroonage, up to their contemporary saga as members of the underprivileged sectors, a wound still open in marginality, in surviving racial prejudice and discrimination as shown by the artist. Diago proposes a serene meditation and appeals to the resonance and vitality of the cultural roots and to the essences of an identity which are his and ours too.
There is no resentful exclamation and no aggression, truth goes by illuminated by what is dearest to good art: synthesis. A peace conducive to meditation takes over the spaces thanks to the excellence of form. Love seems to dominate the exercise and discourse of the artist, love to engage in a dialogue, to understand, to make us part of the problem with no shrillness, attempting to bring the sensitivity of the viewer, as a form of knowledge, closer to the essences and to the samples of an underlying violence in this complex social and human conflict, in its historical, economic and cultural framework, expressed in the silence of the pieces. (…) An admirable canto to the ability to resist, to survive, to extol and defend identity values in the face of adversity and the manifold forms of violence is the metaphor that supports this set of works by Roberto Diago, who seems to say : “…My only aspiration is being a bridge, not a border.”2 Thus, Diago invites us to go deep into his revelations and into his search for essences; because, indeed, “Only the knife knows the heart of the yam.” (…)
1. Lukumi proverb. From: Rogelio Martínez Furé. ESHU (Oriki a mí mismo) y otras descargas, Editorial Letras Cubanas, Havana, 2007, p.187.
2. Rogelio Martinez Furé. Op. cit, p.15