Daddy, am I then an artist?

Notes to a subjective definition of art district

/ 30 October, 2014

Distrito (District), a subjective territorial demarcation is a project born at the Faculty of Visual Arts, of the Higher Institute of the Arts (ISA by its Spanish acronym), by Professor Carlos Raul Aguilar. The genesis of this proposal is explained by the need to recover space for dialogue around art and its channeling through the exhibition event at the academic institution itself. District is, in short, another relevant initiatives developed to oxygenate ISA as an institution, so in that sense it is very well focused.

The opportunity to socialize the most current searches and artistic experiences is granted to students who take the process seriously and work to reach certain consistency in their speeches. District proposes a close and systematic debate for a month, between teacher and student, so that the exchange of knowledge and experiences to flow with order either from the cupola, the classroom or anywhere else. Because the process of working with the formal and / or conceptual approaches that this implies, in addition to insertion into the exhibition dynamics (curatorial work, management, production and promotion, installation and assembly of parts, etc), is really more substantial for the student -artist that the final visual quality of the sample.

To date, the achievements of District have been palpable. On October, the selected artist was Luis Antonio González Rodríguez, who opened on Friday October 24, the exhibition Nueve personajes en busca del autor (Nine Characters in Search of the author). Articulated from the self-reference -and understanding this concept as the manifest need of the creator of interweaving in his work references close to him for the projection of his critical proposal, this exhibition reflects Luis’ dual experience as father and artist.

Once the viewer enters the exhibition area he is received by several toys and scattered children’s drawings as if a boy would have done playing. However, in adjacent spaces, the workshop of an artist seems to take shape: from acrylic tubes and oil, pallets, scaffolding, unassembled paintings (some overturned and another in the copying process from the projector), videos presented on the animations table, etc, a stage has been organically built, no doubt, based on the interest of Louis by theatricality of everyday scenes. But there is no precise demarcation of working areas. The boundaries between child and adult are dissolved, while the toys play a role in the artistic proposals, while in these, it is noticeable the appropriation of images and infantile procedures, including drawing on walls or circulation of a toy train on the floor.

A fluid exchange between artistic praxis and infant universe appears to us then, but with no sign of naivete; because this creator raises the issue as a pretext for the depiction of his concerns about art, which highlight as an essentially communicative product and with a strong aesthetic component. Hence, the gesture of taking to the gallery the work of a child, is due to his questioning on the real value of the purely artistic if, according to him, in both situations he tries to express what he felt and lived through certain visibility. In order to be even more explicit about this, Luis take s the abstract forms created by his daughter without revealing it to the viewer, and becomes them in a new painting situation, only to show that the visual results are not very distant from each other, despite the semantic load that the artist usually provides to his work.

Of course , Luis does not ignore the lead role of the Institution-Art in such processes, precisely because it is the target of his criticism; however, he neither obviates the positions taken by the artist subject in order to guarantee his inclusion in the circuit. The mask that completely covers one of the characters in a painting symbolizes the conversion of the creator into the manager that generally overstates his speech with a practical purpose. The processing of information, translated by the artist’s continuous admission of the cited references (Lam´s typical forms and Duchamp’s readymade bench) concludes in the decomposition of the painting in spots, i.e. any waste. And this entails a nihilistic conception of the phenomenon.

The creator bets on the notion of art as a whole, so that the benefits, mixtures, mutations, etc., ad libitum happen with multiple leads without theoretical foundations that necessarily endorse them. In that sense, Luis has produced a work based on appropriations of art history and with a strong dose of cynicism, humor and irony, but where transparency and openness should prevail both with themselves and with the viewer. And so, reluctant to recharge his work with a “non-existent concept,” he assumes the act of painting as a kind of liberation from the spirit –position that inevitably refers to the vanguard actions of the past century- in an attempt to “(…) isolating the impulse of all contamination, either the concept or form, to retain freshness and spontaneity. “And this view is valid (currently everything it is), what happens is that since the denial itself, an assertion was established; the artist’s opposition to the concept becomes his legitimate concept. So, once again the circle is closed. Anyway, Nueve personajes en busca del autor, in addition to rewarding, removes the thought, prompting reflection and dialogue-always healthy, due to its predictable ends- on the convoluted art phenomenon. Let us hope that Distrito´s forthcoming proposal to also generate similar energies. I bet on it.

Marilyn Payrol

Marilyn Payrol

(Santa Clara, 1990). Graduate of Art History at the University of Havana. Professor of Theory and Criticism at the University of the Arts (ISA). She is the editor of the website of Art OnCuba magazine. Their texts are available Artecubano News and Art OnCuba website.

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