The Order of Things

/ 1 March, 2017

“The creative act is not completed only by the artist itself; the spectator also contributes, since it is him who puts the work in contact with the external world, when deciphering and interpreting its inner characteristics.”

Marcel Duchamp

“I am not a painter”, Rubén Torres Llorca emphasized in a meeting we held up in his studio to prepare his solo show in the Kendall Art Center, Miami. Starting from this premise we go into the topic. Conversation was about general topics of contemporary art, inscribed in the disillusion and the loss of the utopia, which are the basis of his concepts. He referred to the historic tiredness and the disenchantment characterizing today’s art, entities conforming the aesthetic postulates of his visual results and the theoretical dimension of his speech.

Torres Llorca’s work is settled on a personal mythology which sustains that the last stage of conceptual art constitutes the decline of art and that postmodernism and contemporary art belong to the post-art. Therefore, the theoretical approximations of the present creation bring productions established on a system created by the art market, and the artist answers to its demands to be able to maintain himself active. Although, even when this reality highlights, there still exists an anthropologist or cultural hero who, in the the 21st century, writes essays on the art attached to the past, when artistic production was conceived from a romantic approach and without the practical sense it has in the present time.

With the emergence of conceptual art and the novel structures characterizing the aesthetic conception of the post-utopic era, the artistic practice is settled on a referent that upholds the ineludible reality of the end of the history of art, and the artist has the pressing need to replace the meaning of his creation supported above all in the seduction the exponents themselves contribute.

When referring to Torres Llorca’s present artistic production, I cannot avoid mentioning some of what he made on the past century. I go back to the mythical exhibition Volumen Uno (Volume One, Havana, 1981) when Rubén participated with a canvas, Retrato de Fors (Fors Portrait), whose craftsmanship treatment was also used in the conception of La boda (The Wedding), both of them belonging today to the Collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts, in Havana. The two pieces were made with the initial aesthetics of his career, inspired on the profession of his mother, who was a seamstress: superposition of elements on the canvas, with the purpose of reinforcing the physical images of those portrayed, whose aesthetic concretion is achieved in a not essentially pictorial manner.

Two other relevant examples of his production, which are exhibited in the permanent Fine Arts Museum of Havana collection—Te llevo bajo mi piel (I’ve got you under my skin, 1984) and Esta es tu obra (This is your work, 1988)—demonstrate how his discursive repertoire reaches the climax. They both constitute paradigms of his conceptual and theoretical strength, while summarizing the magnitude of the historical transcendence of his cultural legacy. These emblematic works constitute archetypes of his oeuvre and unavoidable referents of the energy emerging from his aesthetic; they are a forceful summary of the artistic, artisanal, iconic, sculptural, and installationist nature of his production.

It happens that in 2017 his approach is different. He is a cultured artist who has successfully led a fruitful career. His present imaginary is more synthetic, concise and accurate. Modernized with the trends of art, his projection is placed in the objective reality of our time and his speech is based on conceptual acuteness, expressed with tact, simplicity and elegance to formulate the message he wants to transmit through the synthesis.

Círculos de fuego (Circles of Fire) is centered in the subtlety created by the repetition of a circular element, which dominates the installation and irradiates energy in the gallery when creating a peculiar rhythm that marks the step of time through the exhibition tour. The reiteration of this motive—made with different papers—acts as the leading axis of this project. The circle assumes the leadership and sets up a guiding yarn of the story told. (…)

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