To believe, to paint

/ 16 March, 2015

Santiago Rodríguez Olazábal (Havana, 1955) (…) is a solitary artist, with scarce or null participation in generational groups or movements, rather ready to appear in the firmament of art, in the “Cuban artistic scene,” only when he has believed a creative circle has concluded and his faith in what he does has intensified to commotion. Known by his drawings, engravings, installations, assemblages, he recently finished a series of paintings in 2014 which he exhibited in Havana under the title Palabras (Words, Galería Habana, December 2014-January 2015) which, being acquainted with his well-known religious education, has surprised me in many ways. To be truthful, the religiosity (in which I include foundations, history, structures, ritualism, myths, symbols, signs, language) on which his work is based should be known so as to fully and truly appreciate it because, if we don’t, we have to run the risk of enjoying them in a strict sense as images (after all, that is what they are), with plastic or visual elements, within the traditional concepts of painting throughout the centuries.

(…) I cherish the suspicion that Santiago has taken into account the ignorance of some of us and has decided, this time, to shorten the paths between his creation and a better and more effective reception of it, and to disturb us in a different way to make the fish of curiosity jump in the midst of its territorial waters. And who knows if, thanks to this, we would begin to inquire more into the mysteries and illuminations of some religious beliefs for a greater enjoyment of our cultural and social contexts, or we incorporate to inhabit, once and forever, that spiritual universe of his. (…)

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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