Yourden Ricardo / Pilgrim’s Axioms curated by Jesús Rosado
OPENING: Friday, Mar 30, 2018
June 5 1974 Isla de la Juventud, Cuba.
Vermont Studio Center Scholarship 1998.
Graduated form Fine Art Academy Wilfredo Lam Isla de la Juventud, Cuba. 1996.
THE PILGRIM’S AXIOMS
Yourden Ricardo by Jesús Rosado.
The artistic biography of Yourden Ricardo (Isla de Pinos, 1974) may well have begun quite long before his arrival in the world. Such a hypothesis probably sounds as divertimento, as a crazy joke, but for the author it would not be incongruent with his conception of impermanence, since from his spiritualism he considers that the human life flows in inexorable cycles through the times. When at some point the painter and I commented on that encounter by chance between Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra, at the Military Hospital of Ferrara in 1916, an event that would not only mark the beginning of a deep friendship, but also the birth of what was made itself known as metaphysical painting, Ricardo became aware of the details, but welcomed the event without being disturbed, as a consubstantial precedent of his own concerns.
The paintings of those precursors of Surrealism, who were joined later by Alberto Savinio, Giorgio Morandi and Filippo de Pisis, emerged from the need to explore into the inner energy that they attributed to an object or an icon when it was alienated from its environment. In that obsession to delve into inaccessible areas of the reality, the group broke with the Puritan reproduction by dislocating the conventional orders and by making way for a subjectivity more connected to the unconscious than to rational flows.
In Yourden Ricardo’s Pilgrim’s Axioms series, it is evident the affinity with both the explorations of the metaphysical painters and the Freudian thought of their surrealist successors. In Ricardo’s images we notice the same insistence on confronting the logic, by transferring elements copied from reality to clustering them in a game of absurdities that, in some way, evokes the oneiric —almost spectral— atmospheres of a Magritte or a Chirico. A mind-blowing image, for example, can be seen in La frialdad que me enciende [The coldness that lights me], where a heart-candelabra submerged in a tray with ice supports a lit candle, is a good sample that the author’s formal conceptions are indebted, in his own way, to Breton’s definitions.
However, the motives of his narrative run through channels that differ from the intuitive behavior of the Surrealists. Ricardo’s cerebral symbolism reflects his formation within the Rosicrucianism, a hermetic fraternal order whose system of mystical philosophy is built on the impact of the millenarian Hindu doctrines in the Western culture.
Unlike the surrealist predecessors, Ricardo’s art is subject to more labyrinthine mental processes. His practice of meditation, as a cathartic procedure until arriving at the subject of sublimation, involves a mental training to access high levels of perception and consciousness. As the painter has told us, during the time of inner spiritual retreat, his pictorial culture turns susceptible all the time to the energies and visions circulating freely in the state of trance.
What continues to cause surprise is that, since he is able to lead his mystique towards more abstract forms, Ricardo has chosen to revisit the traditional paths of painting. Perhaps the reasons are explained by what Kandinsky pointed out: “When a high level of development of sensitivity is reached, the objects and the beings acquire an inner value and, finally, even an internal sound”. Yet the use of pre-avant-garde representative modalities is not exactly an uncritical regression in Ricardo’s case. The resource of mimetic capturing —and not “something else”— to catch incorporeal keys implies, by the time of reconciling it with the hyper realistic figuration, a studied review of the diverse attitudes in modern realism.
Ricardo’s art works reveal the attempt of absorbing the “superrealism” according to Claudio Bravo’s guidelines as an assimilation verging on devotion. On the basis of hours and hours of devoted study, Ricardo has applied himself to incorporate the process dynamics of the Chilean master in order to achieve consistency in his own approaches on color, volumes, depths, reliefs, light and, above all, precision.
In the process, everything superfluous will be excluded. Ricardo’s constructions resort to the economy of protagonists. They do not exceed three or four specific components, with a symbolic association that was already definitively agreed upon discernment. Herein lies the mystery of the pieces making up this series, where the pictorial language struggles to communicate Ricardo’s tacit axioms without succumbing to the obscenity of the explicitness.
Ricardo’s codes are unambiguous. The heart is an existential allegory; the hook, symbol of Providence; the tools, expression of life and purification. His discourse alludes to the principles and laws of the Western esoteric tradition. In Correspondence, as the very title hints in advance, the author gives his vision about the law of correspondence in the Kybalion, simultaneously combining heart and egg (signs of life) on a white plate, both supported by the providential hook. In another piece, Cuando el efecto se convierte en causa [When the effect becomes cause], which is one of the most impressive due to the almost sculptural feel achieved by Ricardo with the brush, he models a spiral conduit with both ends topped by canoes, a metaphor that summarizes a widely widespread principle taught by Hermetism.
For arriving at convincing results, the journey carried out by Ricardo is arduous. We have already explained how, firstly, he visualizes the thematic idea. The next step is to build a handicraft model, which will provide substance to what had germinated in his introspective experience. Then, he meticulously prepares a set to photograph the purpose-built artifact or assemblage. After this session, he chooses the image deserving to be transferred to the canvas and decide whether he must still intervene with additional resources. With the final project in hand, Ricardo is ready to take the crucial step: to realize everything with pure brush strokes in the two-dimensional plane.
Yourden Ricardo’s art work becomes a fresh note in the process of reassessing painting in the continent. The photorealistic recycling according to contemplative motivations in the very 21st century generates a suggestive contrasting effect. It is a peculiar work of art amid the contemporary cultural perceptions that are subject to the technological revolutions and the consumption ideologies. It is striking that, adjacent to Ricardo’s self-absorptions, a cluster of ethical concerns is insinuated in connection with the interaction of the current being with its circumstance, well understood as it is defined, beyond the chronology, the Italian thinker Giorgio Agamben: “A contemporary is the one who has a fixed gaze in his time [...] the one who does not allow himself being blinded by the lights of the century and who manages to distinguish in them the portion of the shadow, their intimate darkness.”
With his input to look into the Being as encompassing entity, the painter joins the saga of mystical implosions in the Cuban art scene, which surely began with the expressionist asceticism by Fidelio Ponce and continued, among others, with the immaterial incursions by Rafael Soriano, the idealized landscapes by Tomás Sánchez, and the religiousness of Heriberto Mora.
Inheritor of intricate explorations, Ricardo’s longing to share his sensitive interpretation of existence may seem complex at first glance. With our sight lost in his canvases, the possible conjectures would be manifold, but his artworks show sufficient grip thanks to the rigorous cult of similarity, the neatly debugging of imperfections in the making, and a sort of almost tactile sensuality, which invites us to plunge into the ontological depths of each proposal.
And watch out! Because that very first incitement may precipitate us, inadvertently, into the labyrinths previously traveled by the author before heading towards the arduous path of selfknowledge.
Miami, February 2018