Angel Delgado: uncomfortable landscape

/ 18 November, 2014

Usually the human figure is not often included in the landscapes or deserves a secondary position, but in the latest sample of Cuban artist Angel Delgado, the landscape seems to be dissolved to the extent of its characters. Unconfortablelandscape [1] is the title that gives name to this new series of paintings and objects in which Delgado deals with the conflicts of man. His figures, male or female, all faceless, seem to warn us about the uniqueness of the subject. A sort of the collective self underlies these beings that have been severed from their powers of communication and vision: they have no eyes, mouth, and ears. The absence of some senses alludes to the mutilation of liberty, lack of communication. However, man is, paradoxically, a prisoner of his own social, political or cultural rules and norms. Precisely in these interstices, the haunting paintings of this Cuban artist emerge: it is a “flawed” landscape that explores and discovers the man.

By looking at the set of pieces on exhibition, it surprises the lack of titles that identify each of the works, but the author manages through this gesture an intimate dialogue between them. These faceless beings who seem different characters in each of the pictures are in fact the same individual; thus, the fact of not naming the pieces invigorates and consolidates this idea. Delgado reflects on identity when using the similarity of the human figures and objects that seem to dissolve into the canvas in this mix of realities. These figures, endlessly repeated in each of the paintings, handkerchiefs have an apparent stillness. Even though their positions, impassive at times, seem calm, sedate; the pieces evoke a sense of turmoil and imbalance.

A bed, a pair of dice, and a suitcase, are some objects that coexist alongside men in yellow, green jackets, in these human landscapes. Thus, a hinge connecting the fragments of reality to the world of Delgado’s anonymous characters is opened. However, this union of some dreamy reminiscence and that even seems a metaphysical landscape, captures the essence of reality as if it were documenting life and its circumstances. The f igure in red jacket with a blue suitcase simulates wanting to get out of the canvas boundaries, becomes a metaphor of the journey, change, the relentless pursuit of a place; whereas the hobo in the background of the picture, is forced to err. Both figures, distinguishable only by their size, are directed towards different points; their trajectories are not intended to coincide. This juxtaposition suggests a sharp and incisive reflection on the stigmas from which man has built contemporary societies.

Along with Delgado’s monumental paintings, it also appears a sort of installation in which the artist has used a group of handkerchiefs which interior shows images of life in prison. In this piece, the composition of images has a certain cinematic trail. The author has used aerial views of the cells and has also suggested the presence of man through small fragments showing the hands of prisoners through the bars. On the group of handkerchiefs, it appears again the mysterious figure that in this case insinuates being meditating. The loss of freedom is not a random theme in Angel Delgado’s work, but passes through the filter of experience. That is why these visions of prison do not become cold and distant archives, on the contrary, emanate a torrid pain, although the convicted men do not even appear.

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