Three Cuban stories outside of Cuba curated by Camila Luna
OPENIG: Friday, Feb 7, 2020
The Kendall Art Center is excited to show three independent exhibitions of the work of Francisco Bernal, Ernesto Ferriol, and Miguel Ángel Salvó. Three Cuban artists who have remained under the radar and outside the Cuban dialogue, telling their stories and speaking of the human condition within their own distinct visual language.
Friday, Feb 7, 2020 6:00PM-11PM
The exhibition will continue until April 24, 2020
RELATIVISMO DE PECADOS Y VIRTUDES
by Camila Luna
To live permanently in a foreign country.
Art is proof of humanities’ potential for brilliance, confirmation of our budding capability to awe, inspire, move, and transcend. Art makes society, therefor society is influenced by artists. Artists pull inspiration from their lives, the world around them, therefor an artist’s work is an extension of his life, personal life experiences are a reflected within their works. It can be argued that the evolution of artistic style, figures, mediums, experiments within artistic movements are a culmination of intimate moments within the lives of every artist. Many artists have an innate ability to see beyond their generation and understand societal problems within their respective contemporary times. Creating innovative, controversial works that are later on accepted as master pieces. This ability to pinpoint and discuss controversial issues make art a tool in influencing society and causing ripples of change. In many ways’ art and by default artists simultaneously document their lives along with the society they live in while influencing future generations. What inspires and influences them in turn is the world around them and the feelings they experience as they live their lives. The human condition is not a tangible thing, neither are the feelings evoked when looking at a work of art.
An artist’s ability to inspire and document lies in his or her ability to observe, process, categorize, and express his or her views on the world they experience. Immigrating and assimilating into a new environment is one of the many psychologically altering conditions that are as much of a tool as oil and canvas when creating a work of art. Not only an influence for the artist but also a ripple of influence within societal norms, views, and perspectives. The works of art oftentimes become a commentary on life, society, and political situations among others.
A picture of Francisco Bernal would be incomplete without taking account of the experiences he accumulated immigrating from Cuba to Spain, and the other cities and countries he traveled in order to settle in Mallorca. An imperative focus within Bernal’s works are his roots, the first works of art where he explores themes and objects that are not ideally beautiful. His work revolves around objects that are not typically seen, what has disappeared and has (delete has) aesthetically become uninterested to society. Bernal wants the audience’s glance to stop and take in the visual weight of oftentimes discarded objects, objects they very regularly interact with. These objects are meant to create a sense of nostalgia creating and remembering different stories and histories, reflecting within the footprints left behind by their ancestors who once valued these objects hoping to capture their true value. Within the series of works being exhibited, the artist takes the audience on a journey simply by using scissors meant for shearing sheep. Utilizing these objects, he attempts (it would be more concise to delete attempt and just say he symbolically undresses but I don’t know if that’s part of the point) to symbolically undress the audience. It’s possible to conceive each work of art as an individual frame within a series of animated paintings. The objects are the same within all the paintings but the narrative changes diametrically.
A SEER UNDER THE SKY OF AMIDA
A picture of Ernesto Ferriol would be incomplete without taking account of the experiences he accumulated immigrating from Cuba to Japan. During this time or Leading up to the journey, he encountered Japanese works depicting scenes from history, folk tales, travel scenes, landscapes, flora, fauna, and erotica known as Ukiyo-e. Within the Ukiyo-e there is a subsection known as Shunga; meaning picture of spring in which spring is a euphemism for sex. Ferriol notices the commentary on life that the Japanese are engaging within their drawings, particularly the Shunga. This is where the melting pot of cultures within the works of one artist begin. His work becomes a blend of both cultures culminating in what the artists refers to as a “Tropical Shunga.” Recontextualizing a “dirty” urban realism that goes beyond a body’s sensuality trying to capture what is fleeting. From there a remembrance is created, a construction from one reality, the Cuban, from a culturally opposite one, the Japanese. Ferriol’s watercolors do not follow a linear narration because he leans on contemporary Cuban literature, his memories, news, and the internet, creating a fragmented perception resulting in his works. He presents both the beautiful and the grotesque within the same plane. Both are revealed with the same relevance, embellishing both and causing a confusing effect to the audience at first glance, as it often happens within everyday life.
Miguel Angel Salvo
A picture of Salvo would be incomplete without taking account of the experiences he accumulated immigrating from Cuba to Spain, where he began to see other parts of humanity’s history which were seen as taboo within the island. Within his works there is a world within a world. Many scenes come together to create an avalanche of information and stories which invite the audience to take a closer look and explore. At first glance, his works look as though they are simply a collage; however, once there is a closer observation it’s clear that nothing is just simply “beautiful.” Salvo believes that today’s society is submersed within too much information coming from too many dubious channels. His works explore how relative everything is, how fleeting. His work is full of historical images, taken from his relentless exploration of history books. The faces he paints are found in a wide array of historical pages from books about the Holocaust to Soviet magazines full of beautiful women posing in front of cars. He removes the beautiful woman from the glossy pages of a magazine and decontextualizes them by placing them in the middle of a battlefield, hinting to the audience that there should be some mistrust regarding the information given to the population. The beautiful woman beautifies the purchase of a car and softens the war scene. Salvo plays with the images in the same way that the media plays with stories. Salvo becomes a television screen, bombarding the audience with information from the past and present — manipulated and coexisting pictorially within the same space. Every detail is intended to make the audience stop, think, and contemplate creating their own reflection and accounts of what is happening socially to show how values and morals keep changing with the immerse amount of information available. Salvo achieves within his chaos an extraordinary pictorially and aesthetic result.