Nicholas Socrates 2009 Urban Design: Art City SocietyCase Studies of Young Cuban Artists;Antonio Ferrer CabelloSantiago de Cuba is a lovely city nestled between the sea and themountains, between blue and green. In order to understand thatcity and its artists, to its singular geological and architecturalcharacteristics we must add a strong personality and a luminous,colorful, extroverted, noisy and welcoming setting.Antonio Ferrer Cabello sings to the city and its residents. Portrayingthe former, he rejoices in improbable but real spaces, in the reddishtone of its locally made roof tiles, in the hundred-year-old balconies,in the cobblestones worn down by the incessant comings and goingsof its inhabitants and curious visitors on steep, narrow streets.He captures the citys soul like no one else, beyond all visible forms.Gazing at his canvases, we forget that painting is two-dimensionalas we "penetrate" those idealized panoramas, where its alwaysnoon and everything seems to doze in the stupor of the siesta. Butthat sun doesnt burn us. Thats how pleasant Ferrers Santiago is.In this regard, Jorge Hidalgo comments:There are some of Ferrers cityscapes that I call "rooftoplandscapes," because clearly he has painted them from his studio orsome high point, and they are impressive. This is something that noother painter has achieved, not even the golden watercolorists, as Icall Hernández Giro, Bofill and others who – although they aremasters – have not portrayed that Santiago de Cuba that Ferrercaptures from the rooftops.And Julia Valdés adds:No one else is as adept in capturing our citys luminosity andbrilliant color in those landscapes, and from the viewpoint ofcomposition, the citys architecture and the contours of the land. Hisstroke is dynamic and I would say that his most recent phase ismore daring than the previous ones, and his palette much richer.…
Ferrer Cabello creates Caribbean images. Feverishly devoted tothem, he has delved into an iconographic world which is ever richerand more diverse, in constant evolution. The men and women areinserted in the city as if it were a huge, colorful fan. In carefuldetail, he explores the possibilities offered by his surroundings.Nothing escapes the masters palette: carnival, the Cubans joy andlove of crowds. He has given us a vast collection of portraits ofconspicuous characters from Santiago de Cuba and other latitudes,as well as affectionate views of the countryside. Ferrer seems tofeel a constant need to reveal life itself. He is a man in his 90s whois born each day, creating scenes full of images that are significant,among other reasons, for their documentary value.His works are like windows opening onto the world, helping us toshape our values and ultimately our consciousness. This master hasthe constant need to find the essential nature of the realitysurrounding us, often by delving into its narrative content. Ferrerpresents us with his own universe, which seems to be inexhaustible.José Julián Aguilera VicenteCezanne showed us that the painter can be natures sentientreceptacle; he understood the importance of the confrontationbetween the drama of ideas and subjective consciousness. AguileraVicente, whose long, prolific life has embodied this confrontation,has explored new paths to their fullest and – as a result of thesevertiginous wanderings – offers us a rich and varied artisticproduction.The technique of engraving has no secrets from Aguilera. His worksnot only tell the citys story; through a strong constructive tissue heincorporates images stripped of their context, like informativematerial susceptible to a new and less comprehensible reading,coming out of a new kind of logic, compact and substantial. Hisefforts are so innovative, his tireless spirit so youthful, stubborn andconstant, that his works hold their own against those of youngcontemporaries. His son, outstanding Santiago artist Carlos RenéAguilera, observes:"Despite the unquestionable maturity of [his] pieces, they possess afresh and youthful experimentation. In them, Aguilera questionssome things about human existence, as in the series Llanto pormuerto (Weeping for Death); in another, Nada es de nadie(Nothing Belongs to Anyone), he ventures into the minefield ofideas about originality and manipulation.
"One must imagine the context of Nada es de nadie, a time whenartists were determined to discover an indisputable formula fororiginality and personal identity. All of a sudden, Aguilera takesthings out of context and begins to juxtapose morphemes of worksby living and active Cuban masters, declares that "nothing belongsto anyone" in this way – without [Jürgen] Habermas or [Umberto]Eco on his bookshelf, as one might today – and intuitively exploresa concept as intricate as appropriation, without labeling it as such."In that gallery in Havana, the critics deliberately comparedAguilera with the masters to whom he had alluded, perhapsexpecting a negative reaction from the latter. But in fact, theirresponse was one of support for his daring and profound reflectionson the structure of originality."Enamored of his old city, he perpetrates it through various artistictechniques. He surprises us with his harsh treatment of the subjectof human alienation, in which all hope of spiritual survival seems tohave vanished. In his expressionist engravings, man appearsabandoned to his solitude and his freedom (these features are signsof his totally maturity); and the protagonists facial expressionsindicate that they do not know whether to turn back or continuedown the path. We are faced with a daring work of art fraught withambiguity and double meanings; hard and silent, authoritarian andenigmatic, that accompany man in his trek through the moderndesert.This is a passionate artist who calls for a return to a dark terrainfeared by modern pragmatic man. It is the work of someone whounderstands the false pillars on which reality is sustained, an artistwho seeks human liberty, not in property but in participation.Striping off the masks, he confronts human beings with his hiddentruth.Aguileras expressionist work emphasizes the presence of anexistential separation and fragmentation. And, as Octavio Pazpointed out, fragmentation "is the most perfect and vibrantexpression of our time."Miguel Ángel Botalín PampínMiguel Ángel Botalín is a fervent student of the citys structure andphysical features. On one hand, he portrays the urban reality andcontour as the shapers of an architectonic space. On the otherhand, he tries to transmit the values of balance, distance, form andproportion.
In an artistic analysis of his city – our city, which he considers aliving organism – we see that in the first place he emphasizes whatwe could call its anatomy: narrow colonial-style alleyways, hillystreets, sunny passageways, rooftops – in other words, the city asinventory.But Botalín also portrays what we consider the citys physiology: therole of the streets, dramatic and communicative. And he movesfrom physiology to psychology: the streets as drama, as the citysinternal scripture. In these elements the citys history is written,and the daily events that characterize its residents. Streets areimportant as inventory; they have as much form and life as thebuildings; meanwhile, in their formal representation their verticalityand depth resound. Thus, anatomy, physiology and psychologycreate a whole revealing the citys vital essence.In other words, Botalín presents to us a city that knows its ownmorphology, its type of construction and its relative space. In hiswork, we see the city as it is: a spatial structure, a collective humanaccomplishment extended through time.His canvases are a tribute to precision, to minute description, andhe converts the city into a form of light, in which poetry andarchitecture are two constructive arts of the same ontologicalcategory.Botalíns city-light, totally loved, explored and perceived, reaffirmsthe idea that his cityscapes are a mental concept built on theassociation of memories rather than on geographical strata.There is a great iconic intensity in this excellent artists work, whichgoes beyond what is being described and itself becomes the reality.The mastery he has achieved makes it possible for the viewer notonly to see the landscape, but also to become a part of it. As in reallife, the viewer soaks up the suns intensity, is dazzled by the light,and even gets thirsty from the climb up the steep, swelteringstreets, devoid of shade in the intense midday heat. Botalín is sopowerfully suggestive because he appeals not only to sight, but alsoto memory, awareness and experience, especially if the viewer isfrom Santiago de Cuba.Making use of a peculiar alchemy – technical mastery, precisestrokes, a well-laden brush, and a white, hot palette – he isundoubtedly one of the citys most outstanding cultivators of thisgenre.Is Miguel Ángel Botalín a romantic with an archaeologists spirit, or
a realist? We do not know. In any case, he is the painter-builderwho identifies with his city, and who in addition to painting it,inhabits every bit of its territory.In this masters work, the past blends with the present and extendsinto the future. His is a time without seams, unitary and global. Heconcentrates on the time that lays between imagination andcertainty, offering us images of our eternal Santiago, definitivelycaptured in his beloved views.Reynaldo Pagán ÁvilaWithout a doubt, Reynaldo Pagán is one of Santiagos mostoutstanding postmodern artists. During his intense and prolificcareer, he has ventured into almost every trend. He knows and hasexplored virtually all of paintings mysteries. He has sampled andappropriated elements, and in some of his pieces he has spotlightedexotic Eastern Cuban elements, with heavy doses of irony anderoticism. Daily life is the theme of some of his other pieces,perhaps alluding to his own childhood and pointing to violencepossibly suffered by the artist himself or others he knew, andalmost always associated with the presence of bars or rails limitingthe space. Humans are the subject and object of analysis frequentlyrelated to individual physical and emotional appetites and needs,whether overt or covert.Pagán has created an esoteric character, an androgynous being ofjointed wood, timeless and faceless. It is a mannequin that hemanipulates at will, which serves to reveal diverse situations andmeanings associated with contemporary processes of humanexistence. Rather than stating, he suggests: the figure is dressed,playing a woman-violin, the surrealistic object of disquietingappearance; or he falls prey to the powerful sexuality of a geishagirl who dominates him – he lies at her feet while his sex blossomsand she, the powerful female, uses it to satisfy her carnal appetites.He can be active, tentatively holding a docile young man betweenhis legs; or he can assume the attitude of the fisherman in Puvis deChavanness well-known painting and wait in a boat for the neededfood that he will presumably obtain from the sea, while elementsforeign to the original work are added, suggesting death and sex.Likewise, the android personifies assassinated revolutionary Marat,immortalized by David in his famous painting.Surrealism and expressionism have a strong presence in Pagánswork. Expressionism is seen in deformations and formalexaggerations affecting the figure and the color treatment,
sometimes distorting the subject at hand; surrealism is revealedthrough a myriad of absurd elements. Both trends take the viewerfrom the dark sea, infested with threatening fish, to the humancongregations wrapped in their frustrations – which in turn adoptdeceitful forms of happiness, appearing as brilliantly coloredballoons coming together in the air, blocking access to the sky. Theviewer is also confronted with groups of humans who, all with thesame expression of panic, hold tight to an apparently inoffensivechair.A recurrent theme is that of exodus, of the trans-territoriality socommon to island people that generates suggestive images and issymbolized through significant elements such as oars, which inPagans work are capable of making navigable any object: royalpalms; dead people who rise up, like the woman who clings to theoars, willing to escape even her own sarcophagus to join into themigratory fever. Another suggestive image is that of the holocaustat sea created by our condition as island dwellers, which on thisoccasion is symbolized by a paper boat overflowing with an infinityof beings with panic manifest on their faces; furthermore, thenewspaper from which the boat is made bears a text that reinforcesthe message.Just as exoticism is fundamentally represented throughpersonalities whose sexuality is often ambiguous, daily life is alsopresent in his works. Shown are the lack of communication betweencouples, sexual frustration, the peanut vendor, the Santeríapractitioner and her ritual adornments, precarious homemadestoves, an old couple resting on a park bench, a woman knitting,and other images forming an iconography of everyday life.Reynaldo Pagán is a well-trained artist with a clear mastery ofCuban and universal art (he pays tribute to Marcelo Pogolotti andÁngel Acosta León), and he conveys his message throughtechniques that are almost always in line with the selected themes.He functions equally well in the classic brushstroke and inaggressive expressionism. He adjusts the composition to his specificinterests, he alters the colors to vary the semantic force. His formaland conceptual solutions provide the opportunity, from anyperspective of reality, to reflect, smile and meditate on theexistential anguish that threatens todays society.Joherms Quiala BrooksJoherms Quiala Brooks, who admits suffering from a kind of "Dalíepidemic," combines his visual message with his cultural
experience, and most of all his critical references. Like Dalí, hisimages are subjective, with a heavy semantic force. Like theCatalan, he has formal training which allows him to create imagesof great beauty and skill. He uses what in other painters would beobsolete to achieve effective and poetic images. He is a paintbrushvirtuoso whose works are seductive and intriguing, presenting amystery that must be unraveled in order to perceive the artists truemeaning.Among the themes Quiala tackles are sex trade, the use of thedollar in Cuba, an element which is aggressive but as ever-present,recognizable, secure and constant, as the government-sponsoredfood ration system within our planned economy. He also deals withthe Cuban landscape, the Tower of Babel as a symbol of utopia,self-portraits (the artist feels he must describe himself), and arecurrent element: a cloak made from elegant fabric and regallydraped, taking on a very suggestive corporeality which on occasionsseems to cover an invisible form. Is this a way to hide things, orone of the various religious symbols appearing in his work? In anycase, this element seems to legitimate, through its very presence,the actions taking place on earth.In one of his landscapes, this artist, with his great religioussensitivity, shows Christ on the cross, substituting a sickle for thenails. In another landscape a crown of thorns descends from theheavens and sprays the Cuban countryside with blood. In yetanother landscape, which could well be considered the completionof a trilogy, a hand appears in the heavens holding a piece of skin,whose double meaning harks back to Dalís multiple image, or"critical paranoia." These are three wrenching visions immersed inthe Christian spirit and referring to the specific moment of thecrucifixion.Like many other Cuban artists of the 1990s, Quiala utilizes the U.S.dollars sudden presence in Cuban life as an expressive resource,which he expresses basically in two themes: the flesh trade and thedollars aggressive effects on rural life, which he portrays in adetailed, hyper-realistic manner. The aggression implicit in thedollars imposition suggests the sale and loss of identity. Acondensed drop of water clings to our sky, suggesting comfort butwith conflicting intentions, but this does not keep us from enjoyingthe illusory configuration that it creates.In several works, he employs the postmodern technique ofintertextuality: Christ painted in Byzantine codes, immersed in arealistic landscape along with a black African; on another canvas, aneoclassical landscape traversed by a machete used for cutting
sugarcane, treated in the classic style of a pop art comic strip. Yetanother painting harks back to Jeff Koonss One Ball TotalEquilibrium Tank. Without specifically alluding to well-knownbrands, he evokes the seduction of consumerism through thepresence of canned beverages which, in open sacrilege, are servedto a celestial baby and provide refreshing moments to earth-boundchildren and adults. Furthermore, the can located in gloriousambiguity is surrounded by a crown of thorns. The artist criticizesand deciphers the spirit of consumerism as part of the vital saga ofcontemporary man. He understands and reflects the process thatleads an individual to turn into a consuming entity, and this is aninteresting conceptual proposition.Quialas works are a significant whole, in which each of theelements acquires a different aesthetic sense and a dream-liketransfiguration moves happily down arts path, without becomingcute or grotesque.Guillermo Orlando Piedra LabañinoThe work of Baracoa painter Guillermo O. Piedra is marked by apleasant expressionism and multicolored composition. One of hisobjectives seems to be to portray the Cuban character through thefaces of hard-working campesinos, who gaze at us with kind andhonest expressions in open contrast with their powerful physiques.Amid apparent chaos, the elements that occupy the space areorganized with a very personal compositional logic, conveying adynamism through the use of warm colors and intense tropical light.One feature is the use of a clear line that emphasizes the subjectsstrength.He himself explains that in order to achieve the desired effects heuses a spatula, a piece of sackcloth, a paintbrush handle, and thepaint tube. The result is a manipulation of the pictorial material thatlends an unusual animation, a vitality that is the most distinguishingcharacteristic of his compositions.In contrast, his landscapes boast a clear balance, in composition aswell as in the use of color, thus transmitting a sense of peace thatapparently could not be broken by any force of nature. Thewatercolors of brothers Juan Emilio and Rodolfo Hernández Giro hada great influence on Piedra Labañino, inspiring him to create veryvisual scenes that rival Nature herself, through an excellenthandling of color.
Roel Caboverde YacerBaracoa, where Roel Caboverde Yacer was born, is one of the mostbeautiful regions of eastern Cuba. Everything there breathesvitality, exuberance and color.This cane cutter turned art instructor focuses his keen eye on animaginary world that speaks to his traditions. That is why histhemes are so simple, reflecting the universal experience of theregions campesinos and fishermen. What limits can be put on anartist who lives and works surrounded by majestic mountains andan intensely blue sea?Caboverde paints country festivities; hard work in the sugarcanefields, in the shaded coffee plantations, and out at sea – oftenpreceded by tender farewells; cockfights; leisure time accentuatedby the sounds of a strummed guitar; dice games; and of coursestrongly erotic scenes in which women await their mens return. "Iam a man in love with life and women," he has said.His technique hardly varies from one piece to another. He is faithfulto a Mannerist expressionism resulting in an exaggerated elongationof the human figure, a deformation that confers greaterrepresentational force.Sometimes the hands of his subjects are reminiscent of theoutstanding Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín. Added to hiscompositional skills, his strident use of color confers a good deal ofdrama to his theme.His composition is very clear and ordered, with a precisedifferentiation of planes. Multiple viewpoints characteristic of cubismabound in a curious work, in which an architectural elementoccupies the central subjects head. His expressionism is based notonly on the deformed faces: some figures with their backs to theviewer assume postures denoting the harsh physical effort ofworking in the cane fields. This is a device employed occasionally byPablo Picasso.In his painting, he also deals with love and melancholy,fundamentally through females like the young woman who waits,nude, for her lover in the middle of a cane field.Caboverdes pictorial pieces have a grotesque expressive presence,created by exaggerated anatomical deformations. This can beinterpreted as an effective way of calling attention to the artiststhemes and makes his work unmistakably his own.
Rubén Manuel Beltrán Guerra"Manzanillo has a brilliant, intense light. It never stops, even in theshade." The man who made this statement was born and has livedwith the blinding clarity of the Caribbean Sea illuminating that 200-year-old city.Rubén Beltrán Guerra creates images with impeccable skill and aclear vocation for landscapes. He rejoices in vistas of verdantvegetation and old houses with red roofs and large windowsdecorated with ironwork, where the passage of time has left itsmark on walls worn down to the brick and mortar, small towns withcobblestone streets or dirt roads that contribute simultaneously torural tranquility and urban comfort. His aesthetic creed involves therationality of the elements and representational synthesis.His landscapes are pervaded with an absolute calm that nothing canalter. His composition is perfectly organized, with diagonalsreinforcing the sense of balance. This atmosphere is complementedwith a clear and intensely blue sky, plus a careful mimesis.His recurrent dream is the ideal city – which he says does not existbut is located "between Santiago de Cuba and Manzanillo." On oneof his canvases, he represents that ideal city surrealistically, in abaroque composition in which the buildings seems to come upspontaneously, without any regard for nearby structures. One ofBeltráns achievements is having brought together – and at timeseven mixed – classic urban symbolism with icons and features of animaginary city.Beltráns works contain many fascinating elements, with an evidentzeal for detail. While the task of defining landscape paintingcontinues to be difficult, the fact that it is being studied helpspreserve its critical importance.Alfredo SánchezThis artist, who states that theatrical design is his life, doespaintings characterized by stage composition, in many bright colors.Using a number of elements from Chagall, Sánchez creates anexpressionism that is his alone, in which the line plays a relevantpart, dynamically dividing up space. The couple lying face to faceand levitating, like the celebrated Russian artists Paris from myWindow; the wandering minstrel who assumes the pose of theGreen Violinist; the lovers among flowers; the nude woman withblue skin reclining languidly against a bamboo trellis; a circus
atmosphere; cooing lovers; campesinos; visions of a city withempty buildings and superimposed figures: themes undertaken inthe style of David Salle, employing fragmentation as a recurrentdevice, although it is unclear whether it is for decorative purposesor mere distraction.As for technique, Sánchez has noted that he tends to be matterist,creating volume with colors, or using pointillism as a way ofbringing vibration and mobility to the canvas.Sometimes he complicates the scenes so much that the viewermust do a great deal of decoding. He does not allow the eyes torest at any moment; on the contrary, he forces us to shift our gazeconstantly, in search of a coherence leading to ultimatecomprehension of the matter at hand. Thus, agitation is thecommon denominator for all his work. It could be assumed that hisstrongly chromatic paintings are aggressive, but instead, there is anamiability that impacts the viewer, given that this procedure, withits rhythmic spontaneity, can be playful and even fascinating.Alfredo Cecilio Rodríguez CedeñoAlfredo Rodríguez, who never had formal art training, has absorbedthe Cuban and international landscape painting tradition throughthe examination of color plates and bibliographic material. In thisway, he has received the influence of the Barbizon School, 19th-century British painters and the best known Cuban painters in thisgenre.Given that lack of training, the technical skills he has acquired aresurprising. He creates panoramic vistas into which he insertsdiminutive but precise elements representative of the Cubancountryside – palm-thatched huts and royal palm trees; oxcarts;streams and bridges; daily labors; topographical contours – andthrough them he demonstrates a deep love linking him irreversiblyto the landscape he recreates.One of his most impressive works shows a winged but isolatedisland that tries in vain to follow behind a flock of migratory birdsfully enjoying their freedom of flight. This embodies a greatcontradiction: the island is shown as a floating space that is heavilyconstrained by fragments of a wall and on its verdant surface,among the huts, palms and tropical trees, is a giant, powerful wingattempting in vain to take flight. Despite its diverse elements, thepiece functions as a whole; the details, nuances and intensities areplaced there with a clear purpose, and always to good advantage.
Another of Alfredo Rodríguezs significant pieces, full of symbolismand signs, is also a landscape, but with a twist. It is located on thetablecloth of a large rectangular table, creating a constant dialogbetween movement and stillness. It expresses lifes multicolored,dynamic nature as well as stasis – with human beings to one side –that converts the scene into something stable and permanent. Theoverall effect is quite elegant.Another of his favorite themes are hands. If I had to categorizethese scenes, I would put them in the broad classification ofexpressionism, as the viewer can easily understand.Like all expressionist artists, Rodríguez interprets reality byextracting it from the natural, cultural, environmental andexperiential surroundings. He takes the hands out of context andplaces them in an atemporal dimension. They become tensedmuscular structures suspended in space and time, without aperceptible setting, without perspective and without support. Theyare distorted muscles, twisted and anguished roots, hands forgedthrough labor that occupy an imaginary and unsettling atmosphere,as well as being highly erotic.The greatest value of these pieces is the combination of factors thatallow the artist to achieve his objectives with a wide variety ofeffects.Marcos Pavón EstradaBorn into a poor farming family – which in pre-Revolutionary Cubadeprived him of any possibility of education – and infected withpolio during childhood, Marcos Pavón was faced with a sad reality.When he was just a few years old, paintbrushes substituted for thetoys he did not have, and he taught himself how to paint. His verylimited frame of reference was nourished with the legends that ruralfamilies pass from one generation to another: stories of elves andapparitions, witches and ghosts.In 1963, when education became freely available to all Cubans,regardless of gender or social status, Pavón took his first art lessonswhile a patient at an orthopedic hospital in Havana. Upon his returnto Holguín province, where he was born, he was given a specializededucation; after graduation he found a job that kept him in closecontact with the world of painting.There is no doubt that the life of this hard-working artist is unique.He says that painting is a challenge, but he always succeeds. His
life is a challenge and he has succeeded. Unable to use his hands,he holds the paintbrush with his mouth, and remains undaunteddespite the difficulties.The subject matter of his work is often heart-wrenching, like thepainting of the mother whose screams of despair come from hervery gut and can even shake tree roots. She is holding two squalid,inert children who could well represent the truncated, disjointed andcruel childhood suffered by the artist himself. The womans face,exploding with pain and rage, is drawn with precise, intenselyexpressionist lines that seem to tear into the picture. There is aviolent chromatic contrast between the central figure, painted inyellow, and the twisted tree, just as strong as she is, painted in agray-blue and creating a strong and balanced composition. In thebackground, slender palm trees and silhouetted mountains make itclear that this tragic scene is taking place in the Cuban countryside.In another one of his pieces, a pair of lovers embrace tenderly, withhappiness frozen on their faces. The encounter takes place in afactory setting, with a background of chimneys belching out smoke.This makes for a perfectly balanced composition, and the purecolors accentuate the works message.Another of his favorite themes is rural work. In a multicoloredcomposition, two campesinos are located very close to each other.While in the foreground one of them is resting his hands on a book,the other is planting a seedling. Are they both Marcos Pavón? Arethey doing what he wanted but never could do? Is this an allusionto the dirty trick life has played on him? Once again, there are well-defined lines that emphasize the young workers musculature, plusthe twisted tree trunk, and the mountains contour, painted with atechnique ranges from pointillism to long, extended strokes.And there is the world of the elves, reflecting a childhood theyinhabited in the campesinos fascinated eyes, in the whistle of thewind, hiding their faces during the day, appearing and disappearing,changing and fading away as the sun illuminates the land.This exceptional artist, a model of courage and constancy, presentsus with a body of work with deep significance. He has touched oneternal human themes, ones that define our very existence. Thosethemes are love, pain and work.Jorge Luis Hernández PouyúPouyú, who declared his break with figurative art in 1998, presents
us – through his series Motivos Reales (Real Motifs, 2000-2002),consisting of about 30 pieces – with a new stage of artistic creationin which he feels "free and unfettered." This freedom of choice hasled him down the difficult path of abstraction, from vitalist andintimist positions. His work still responds to his need to expresshimself; through his work he intensely communicates his reality. Itis not by chance that this series is entitled Real Motifs.The artist, whose technique involves gesture and matterism, is thefirst person awaiting the result of his acts upon the canvas, since hehas no preconceived notion of what he will paint. To a large extent,the pictorial elements flow and overlap somewhat spontaneously,with chance playing a large role in the works final outcome.Enticing images emerge, greatly influenced by the titles (whichreveal that he is an avid reader); his visual metaphors constitute areal challenge to those viewing the work.His paintings, intended more for visual enjoyment than forinterpretation of symbols, are full of lyricism, and unforeseenstructures emerge. They are sets of signs, consisting of shapes andcolors that reaffirm the concept that a painting exists only to beviewed.Pouyú paints with honesty, without concessions or flatteringformulas that his interior truth would not permit. He obeys an ethicthat should not be confused with compromise. His goal is "painting"– in other words, affirming artistic values (always in a dialecticstruggle between doubt and certainty), in order to create newspaces resulting from his capacity for innovation and his will toexpress himself in his own language.The painter often insists that he is an expressionist to the core, andhe interprets reality by isolating it, within its surroundings, from itsemotional context and its environmental circumstances. Throughform and color, he has created a magical space where his RealMotifs develop. At times violent, they do not tolerate anyindifference and on occasion they betray a contagious melancholy,while at other times they communicate optimism. Thus his painting,in its current phase, exudes a semantic ambiguity and, facing thenew millennium, the artist demonstrates that he has achieved agreater conceptualization of the motifs he has undertaken.Eddy Ochoa GuzmánDespite what one might think, Eddy Ochoa is not a hyperrealistpainter; he himself has confirmed this criterion. Indeed, if we
compare his work to the hyperrealist or photorealist pieces byMalcolm Morley – who initiated this trend – Ochoas astonishinglandscapes have nothing to do with that form of painting, whichemerged as an echo of pop art and is the product of a consumersociety that tends to subject its subject matter to the fiercedictatorship of photography, simultaneously dehumanizing thetheme by rejecting all points of contact with the normalrepresentation of the human presence. This trend, also called "coldrealism," almost always puts its subject in an urban setting,assigning it a leading role, stronger than the role of humans.Ochoa could not be identified with this trend, either in his themes orin the technique he employs. His main interest is capturing ourbeloved landscape, which José María de Heredia praised in hisfamous "Ode to Niagara."Of all the possible media on which one can paint, Ochoa chooses toexpress himself through oil on canvas, in a medium-sized format.Painted in an intelligent, well-conceived plan that is neveringenuous, his Nocturnos (Nocturnes) spark a restlessness insideus, despite the apparent tranquility of the landscape. Thatrestlessness comes from the light that transgresses conventionalismand fluctuates between reality and unreality, reflection andquestioning, because that peculiar illumination makes us wonder,"What is it? Where does it come from?" The answer would clear upthe mystery that transcends these pieces. We note that surrealluminosity in Ensueño de la tarde (Afternoon Dream), limitingspace, defining planes, denoting contours and allowing thisperceptive and skilled artist to revel in the details of his impeccablycrafted work, which is simple in appearance but also quite profound.He is an artist who, from a position of radical independence, confersknowledge on painting, embodying a principle of Cezannes in hispictorial treatment: he constructs masses and volumes throughcolor, while his fine, precise sketches center on psychologicalevaluations of his admirably portrayed landscapes.These works reflect the confidence of an artist devoted to the dailytask of painting. Repetition builds skill, which – when combined withsensibility – makes it possible to work miracles.Danis Montero OrtegaWhenever artist Danis Montero seeks our attention, it is in thename of landscape painting. At this time he uses mostly oils and
acrylics, adding textile effects that sound a dramatic note. Aftergoing through various stages, currently the painter catches ourattention through the ambiguity of his attractive but enigmaticlandscapes, the fruit of an inexhaustible inspiration belonging not tothe natural order, but to an imaginary one.In the series Concreciones (Concretion), we are invited to moveinto hidden reaches, to discover and capture the essence of thelandscape, which is concealed behind the evocative appearance ofthese images. We wonder whether we have "seen" the reallandscape. This may be the artists intention, arising out of his greatcapacity for invention and his determination to speak in thissuggestive language.These forms, which appear to us as natural or architectural, emergemysteriously from the represented spaces, full of sensualconnotations. His creative method consists of gestural brushstrokes,letting the details flow with absolute freedom. Apparentlydissatisfied with the art around him, the painter searches forthemes from within himself, in his own potentialities, letting his vitalforce guide his hand in the creation of Concretion.This technique has fostered the emergence of images that, althoughvaguely familiar, reveal a new type of landscape painting with awise compositional strategy, in which it is possible that the linetakes on greater importance than before. The somber colors towhich Danis has accustomed us is softly seductive; the light thatbrings to life well-designed forms helps to highlight a skillfullyachieved combination of transparency and opaqueness.On this occasion he reveals a new approach to composition,incorporating figurative and abstract elements. He has broken withtraditional watercolor techniques through the insertion ofexperimental formulas, including textile and collage.Upon the unpolluted white of the Bristol board, the range of bluesand grays, yellows and ochres strongly reinforce his message: theenvironment is in real, not imaginary danger. His aggression takeson definite but perfectly recognizable forms. We are surprised by ahuman figure, always absent but necessary here as an attacked orattacking being, or expressed through an abstraction filled withlyricism and drama.His large and small pieces, figurative or abstract, alert the viewer tothe catastrophe to come. Humanitys future is endangered. All ofus, at Daniss side, must save our landscape, which is tantamountto saving life.