POEMS* curated by Gabriela García Azcuy
Women Artists in the Rodríguez Collection:
An exhibition conceived by Kendall Art Center with the idea of expanding the presence of female artists in the collection.
OPENING: Friday, Mar 10, 2017
By Lisyanet Rodriguez
By Gina Pellón, Ana María Sarlat, Ivonne Ferrer and Laura Luna
By Sandra Ramos, Ana Albertina Delgado and Marlys Fuego
I. Blooming by Lisyanet Rodriguez,
II. Fugacious by Gina Pellón, Ivonne Ferrer, Ana María Sarlat and Laura Luna; And, finally,
III. Being by Sandra Ramos (1969), Ana Albertina Delgado (1963) and Marlys Fuego (1988).
Who is she? An ontological essence,
A discursive figure, a historical convenience (...)
By the date of March, several proposals to complement the celebrations of International Women’s Day were planned: a personal exhibition by the young artist Lisyanet Rodríguez (1987) and a tribute to Gina Pellón (1926-2014), in a conversation with the creators Ivonne Ferrer (1968), Ana María Sarlat (1959) and Laura Luna (1959). At the same time, the Kendall Art Center (KAC) considered the idea - for the new space - to establish an intergenerational dialogue between different artists with a common artistic background.
Before all these ideas and confluences, I decided that Poems (Poemario) was the perfect title to combine three different shows, as individual poems under the same event. I. Blooming by Lisyanet Rodríguez, II. Fugacious by Gina Pellón, Ivonne Ferrer, Ana María Sarlat and Laura Luna; And, finally, III. Being by Sandra Ramos (1969), Ana Albertina Delgado (1963) and Marlys Fuego (1988). An exhibition of female artists -without intentional feminist positions. Simply a communion of speeches and intimate poetry with the subtlety and elegance of good art.
With the “Blooming” Series, the artist Lisyanet Rodríguez, questions the canons of the Ugly, established in Western culture. From a deep emotional attachment to nature and humanity, she considers that every living being is beautiful, because every birth, flowering -Blooming- is a process of magical essence.
Under this premise, she decides - with exquisite technical skill - to create works that project the viewer to a formal ugliness and the artistic representation of it. The audience for seconds is at a receptive crossroads. But she knows how to use the auric value of the art to her advantage. From her canvases and cards she exonerates those deformed beings, in imbalance, incomplete, different, and elevates them to a category of sublime beauty. The pains, fears and neglects suffered by her figures are vindicated with energetic eagerness. For, like all beings from nature, they have unique qualities, they have a certain beauty.
It is interesting how diametrically varies animal and human representation in these series, even though the thematic is the same. The first ones, drawn with crayons on white backgrounds; are in their polymorphism, deformed happy. However, in the representation of the human figure, theatricality and suffering appear. Made on large canvases with mainly gray and ocher tones, the work is totally self-referential. The faces of the artist are repeated in front of the viewer and emerge female bodies without faces or portions cut off hands and feet. It is as if the artist exorcises her deepest fears and brings them out. The gaze constantly escapes, hides, disappears (Hunting Butterflies, 2017; Stumble, 2016; Holding on, 2016). And when it looks, it does not interfere, it only poses, like floating entity of another world (Fallen Princess, 2016). “They can be disturbing and regrettable, also theatrical, romantic and melancholic. But I always seek to inspire feelings of love, sweetness, kindness, tenderness and beauty that are an eternal and universal part of the human condition”, says the artist.
As a posthumous tribute to Gina Pellón, part of her works, belonging to the Rodriguez Collection, (collection attached to the KAC, owned by Leonardo Rodriguez and family) were exhibited. A total of 12 works that cover its production from the seventies to two thousand. Between canvases, collages, watercolors and pastels, they extended their iconic guaguas and infantile illustrations. Female faces with strong expressionist lines and others with beautiful naive lines. The high command of color is immediately perceived, the seal of the Cuban that always accompanied it-even if she settled in Paris most of her life. Undoubtedly, hers is a work of free spirit that she described as “a kind of multicolor graffiti”
As invited artists, Miami-based Cuban women, Ana María Sarlat, Ivonne Ferrer and Laura Luna, joined Fugacious with specific works. The first one, with the work Dear Son (1996) presents a great Madonna in extreme symbolic and multireferencial -María, Medea-; a song to motherhood and woman. A figure in tears, with suckling breasts and an abdomen that transpires a microuniverse of life. From the third chakra hangs a pin with a poem. A poem to the son, to the man who must not forget where he has come from, that the cyclical history of inequalities and mistreatment must not continue. “Walk tall, walk honest, walk with love ...” she scolds and cooes. At the same time, when looking at the white-red-blue colors that dominate the work, references to the identity of the artist are glimpsed. The figure becomes Homeland and the son thousands of men.
In Yarini, una orgía de libertad (2012), Ivonne Ferrer interconnects historical references that need an acute spectator, capable of revealing beyond the mere eroticism of the piece. The famous Havana pimp from the neighborhood of San Isidro, who became a political figure in the period, is the reason to talk about the development of the history of a country, cyclical in its processes, as the form of orgy itself. The politics/history understood as pleasure, promiscuity and adult´s game. The use of the period´s graphic codes and a certain reference pop, translate a humorous wink and flattering, that the author has no qualms to unveil: “to dismantle or remove history’s clothes, and to undress it in such a way that its tricks are revealed.” 1
Finally, in the work of Laura Luna is evident and tangential influences of Afro-Cuban religions and spiritual practices. In Islands of thousand paths (2017) a woman’s head in red is lying on a sea-sky-raft. Join and witness a story. Ties, like braids tied to pegs in their memory, are intertwined with painted ceramic ships. Memory associated to the personal history of migrations and changes of the artist. In Bicameral Pyramid (2017), it mimics the hypothesis about the division of cognitive functions into two parts 3000 years ago. A part of the brain that speaks, another part that listens and obeys. The work is a male torso in bronze. Many analogies arise. The condition of being a woman, associated with various spaces of manhood, from the beginning has been one of her greatest anxieties.
In the Havana-Mirage Series, Sandra Ramos builds Utopian Havanas. Interconnects spaces - HAV-MIA/HAV-NY - remotely geographically and politically. To do this it uses bridges, winds, submarine boats, ropes. Or, as in that Russian tale I read so much in my childhood, decides to build Havana on a whale. It is interesting how, as we approach these works, their mirrors and reflections enter us into the illusion of the scene, as if we were one more character. The artist would affirm, “My work is a bridge, a line connecting my ideas with those of others and the past and future of my country, a path to tolerance of difference, to wonder at the world and its beauty, virtue of innocence and utopia”. In the artist´s book Searching Ithhaca (2015) of the series “Revisiting Mithologies”, the journey becomes a metaphor, in a story of thousands. New narratives recreate the myth: a Havana inhabited by Polyphemus, the ship of Odysseus and his crew arriving at the Miami Bay. “Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey without her you would not have set out” “As you set for Ithaka, hope the voyage is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery”.
On the other hand, the work of Ana Albertina is a very distinctive iconographic peculiarity. In her pieces, with outlined figures and hairy heads, they are syncretized influences of diverse cultures. The result is a sui generis work, of hermetic, magical, delicate, complex characters. A world of fantasies with absolute predominance of the pink palette. In Polilla y polen (2017) and Suspensión en oro (2017), her most recent works, one perceives a direct connection with the primal sap. The figures have the power to control the divine, the cosmos. The sequence is an important key, even when the parts work individually. See The dance of one foot, The fantasies of the half, The mystery of the forms, Balls of green cheese, The absence and the retirement . As a whole, the artworks of the exhibition talk about themes such as being and its destiny and the continuous cycles of existence.
The series “Stars”, “Travel”, “Mi Aire”, “Bondage”, “Blank Space” are combined in an amplitude of supports, canvases, collages, light boxes and cardboards to show a more elliptical Marlys Fuego in her speeches. The color and luster characteristic of her work now appears on dark backgrounds. The games of appearances return, the supposedly beautiful hides a background of multiple complexities associated with childhood and the construction of gender identity. The dolls become repetitive in pieces like From the Series “Stars” (2016) where homogenized in white carried Cuban flags like inert soldiers. In the Bondage (2017) canvas, the artist replaces third-party photos with an image of her own. It’s given to the viewer as an object and subject, a model of careful bondage. However in opposition, Mi aire (2017), some dolls suffer the mooring, within an abyss of fractals. As if infancy-adulthood were about realities and appearances.
Poems is a compendium of dissimilar visual discourses, themes, generations, cosmogonies. Beyond artistic practices, formats or manifestations, the exhibition is structured like a skein that always returns to the starting point; to ‘who is she?’ that underlies each work.
Gabriela García Azcuy
*This text was translated from Spanish by Kraus Hernández
1. Adriana Herrera and Willy Castellanos: “The smile of Eros or how to screw history”, 2012.
Holding on, 2016 Charcoal and acrylic on canvas 76" x 44"
Stumble, 2016 Charcoal and acrylic on canvas 76" x 34"
Searching Ithaca from the Series “Revisiting Mithologies”, 2015 Mirror plexiglass, wood, erraser, digital print 13 x 79 x 72 inches
Havana Mirage: NY, 2012 Havana Mirage: Whale, 2012 Havana Mirage: Waves, 2012 Dry point drawing, digital print on mirror plexiglass, wood 14" x 64" x 13" 14" x 59" x 12" 14" x 39" x 12"
Untitled Mixed media on paper 26 x 18,5 inches
Untitled, 2008 Mixed media on canvas 22 x 15 inches
La danza de un solo pie, 2009 Acrylic on canvas 18 x 24 inches
Las fantasías de la mitad, 2009 Acrylic on canvas 18 x 24 inches