Tradition and renewal, variety and change, hybridity and identity are the key points that shapes the contemporary art scene in Cuba into what it is today. But it is getting increasingly difficult to define the term of “Cuban national art”. Influences, adoption and rebuilding of foreign, cosmopolitan codes have all influenced the production of images and result in an occasionally undefinable mixture of foreign sources and its own creativity.

While in the middle of the 20th century genres and mediums of art were clearly finger-printable, art has crossed all borderlines nowadays. Performances, installations, video art and as of recently also digital art have become new tendencies in Cuban art, which is easily comparable to the worldwide art metropolis.

The four artists of the exhibition can be seen as deputies for some of the most renowned categories of contemporary Cuban art.

The paintings of Maykel Linares is a kind of an exercise for one’s memory: memory outwits itself and Linares himself is questioning his own memories: seemingly harmless and trivial, frozen like a still from a movie, the artist marries different narrative sequences to prevent all the connections to the past to get lost over time.

The objects on his images, too, make the short moment, in which time stands still, apparent, i.e. the Moskovitch, that is stuck in a wall. In contrast to the figurative and concrete depiction of objects he covers the car with color spots, which then in turn create a surface that hides the time and the broken-up room within it. Yet still the images, for example the old socialist car, seem to not be completely coherent. They’re blurring under the rainy sky and the façades lay open the fantastic memories of moments that are applied onto the canvas not through measures of photography, but with the help of colors.

The universal replaceability of things, the limitation and reduction of a product to a single aspect and the measuring of human against material forces, make up the elements that sum up our society, which is dominated by money.

This society has established itself in our modern way of life without any bigger problems and the dominance of money influences the moral and political decisions, let alone religion, arts and culture. It is adjusting flexibly and converts the material into a substitute for the human experience, where one’s possessions become an integral part of one’s personality.

The works of Yunier Hernández focus on national identity, the boundaries of language and the myth of history. Moderate means of expression are essential for that, because just like language, art is not a personal heritage that derives from an individual invention, but from something, that must be learnt.
That is why it is important to factor in the audience and their reactions during the process of creation, in order to be able to create a dialogue with the viewer, who acts as an extension of the works. Eventually every image is created out of its own universe of meanings. And even if we try to understand a small part of it, what the image make clear is that its own nature cannot really ever be understood.

The artistic concept of Roldán Lauzán is a symbolic documentation of different personalities, that we (consciously as well as unconsciously) create, to be able to react accordingly in specific contacts and situations. Thereby he’s also channeling independent poetry, that can derive from the image itself. The images show portraits, that have been created with mixed media on canvas. They’re also supposed to make the viewer ponder about the fragmentation of individual personalities.

This cycle of works is simultaneously questioning the meaning of alter egos in the 21st century: for an individual, an alter ego can be an intellectual or spiritual practice, their job, their relationships or their selflove. In addition, social meeting points and social networks produce alter egos to gain recognition, appreciation and acceptance.

For this exhibition the artist has used a variety of concepts and discursive means, like the unity of counterproductive symbols or the use of art, paintings in specific, as a therapy to liberate oneself.

Lauzán researches concepts like split personalities, bipolar disorders, deficiency symptoms or double standards. The question he asks himself is: Who are we really? To what extent is our individuality nothing more than a socio-cultural product and nothing else? Is there such a thing as a collective “alter ego above all”?

Even thought it might such an impression upon first glance, urban spaces, in which we live in, are no live less subject matters. As a place that has been created by and for people, it creates an inexplicable connection between both of them, a kind of regeneration, in which one is both cause and effect for the other, and vice versa. Urban space develops an added dimension of social aspect. This is the key to the way in which Daniel Rodríguez introduces us to Havana: He dissects the city like a living organism, because his empty vision of Havana speaks for the people, who live there, who change the city, challenge it or even leave it to it’s own devises; she talks about her hopes and disappointments, about her expectations and fears – instead of merely using the city as a fertile source for formal studies or a pretense for an exploration of scientific insights. But what becomes especially apparent is the development of a metaphor between architecture and biology, which dissolves in between the symbiosis of the straightforwardness of the architecture and the apprehended corves of muscles and molecules, bacteria and microorganisms; between the seeming sturdiness of the constructed and the obvious fragility of the anatomic, the meager black and white of the charcoal drawings and the piercing colors beneath the skin or a foreign body.

The artist’s version of Havana seems to be a strangely bendable city: the reflection of versatile and complex corners and edges of contemporary people and native Cubans in specific. The city is speaker, stage and victim of a dynamic, who’s impact is outgrowing the city and it’s residents. Through their unique and characteristic architectural physiognomy Havana is presented to us as a lively unit, that, metaphorically speaking, “is birthed, grows, procreates and dies”. The city is depending on the human to nourish it, engage in connections and to propagate.

Overlapped by aesthetic, a constant questioning of the origin, the impact and responsibility of change lies under the works of the artist.  

– YADIER PÉREZ GARCÍA (chief curator at Galería Habana, Cuba)


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