The landscape is one of the most known, practiced and appreciated genders in the visual arts. The mimesis plays a main role in its tradition. However, exists another perception of the landscape much more conceptual, from a different vision of making and thinking art. This is the direction of "Herbal" (Herbaria in Spanish), exhibition shown in the CDAV. The critical text highlights how the exhibition offers an «other» landscape, seen as an intellective process that reflexes the surrounding world or the construction of new realities.
The landscape catalogues among the most known, practiced and appreciated pictorial genres worldwide. It made "entrance" to the history of Western art in the so-called cave art, and its powerful influence has extended to the present day. There is no ism, movement or tendency that has resisted its charms. It is well known that the symbolic Cuban production of all times has notable landscape painters, among them Tomás Sánchez, Annia Toledo, José Perdomo, Luis Enrique Camejo and Jorge López Pardo: creators with extensive experience and renowned trajectory. Among the new generations, Frank Mujica, Marlon Portales and Gabriel Sánchez Toledo stand out, who appropriate their own codes of abstractionism and expressionism to build or reproduce stormy, quasi-disciples environments permeated by the subjectivity of each creator.
The more traditional side of the landscape is intimately related to the topographical characteristics of a given context. In it, the mimesis or copy of the environment plays a leading role. However, there is another landscape, much more conceptual, which seeks to offer us a different, provocative vision, dialogic with other ways of doing and thinking art. Herbaria stands out in this regard, a collective exhibition held in the halls of the capital's Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales (CDAV).
Curated and museographed by Caridad Blanco and Guillermo E. Rodríguez, the exhibition brings together a large number of Cuban and Puerto Rico creators interested in establishing links between the landscape and the installation, two seemingly disparate aesthetic manifestations or languages.
The Pure Land, by Yornel J. Martínez, is a piece composed of a world map transformed into a son or string stretched between two walls, which deals with the political, migratory and border conflicts that are currently shaking the planet. In a similar vein we find Iris, a video-installation by Javier Bosques that shows the artist's mother creating a rainbow as she sprinkles powerful jets of water around while wearing a sweater whose hard currency refers to the recently completed process of releasing Puerto Rican political prisoners. The symbolism of the seven-colour solar spectrum, very much present in mythical-religious systems worldwide, takes up here its semantic links with peace and harmony.
The ecological theme featured Coconut Bombs by Chaveli Sifre, a playful piece that refers to the deterioration of natural resources as a function of tourism and the consumer industry, and José E. Yaque's Pilgrimage, a video installation that focuses our attention on the polluting processes that affect the city's environment, and is based on the specific homonym site executed by the same creator at the mouths of the rivers.
Guillermo Rodríguez, with Haz, and Javier Bosques, with Webs, appropriated the resources present in nature that they modified and inserted in the gallery space. The first constructs in situ another rainbow, displacing and successively reflecting a ray of sunlight that "takes" from the outside, while the second collects spider webs that it then colors and exhibits as if they were abstract compositions (although, in my opinion, and after decontextualising them even more, these "drawings" refer to urban structures seen from a bird's eye view, or to the communication networks and Both works can be valued as aesthetic exercises of marked lyricism in which color, texture of materials and their physical characteristics play a fundamental role.
The interior landscape was also present in the installation of Juan Carlos Rodríguez, which forms part of the series El ser y el tiempo (The Being and Time); in the suggestive piece Intimacy, in which Elizabeth Cerviño explores silence, waiting, absences and dialogue thanks to the active (and voyeuristic) participation of the spectator; as well as in La Maleza, a project by the Camagüeyan Léster Álvarez that proposes a kind of intellectual topography, of cognitive geography.
A eidetic landscape, a provocative and contemporary landscape; a "other" landscape, seen as an intellectual process rather than a mimetic one, which reconfigures itself as an artistic experience, a reflection of the surrounding world or the construction of new realities, while at the same time it accuses the artificial character of the creative process by means of the constant play between references and meanings. For good, the interest shown by CDAV specialists in making reflective, disturbing and innovative areas of the most current Cuban symbolic production visible, has once again gained a place in this exhibition, aimed at showing the more conceptual side of a popular genre with a broad tradition in the history of universal art.
"To see the other landscape"
by: Maikel José Rodríguez Calviño