Exhibition by Grethell Rasúa. Gallery Villa Manuela, Street H Nr. 406 between 17 and 19, Vedado. January-February 2018

"The sense of usefulness functions beyond the metaphor of the work."

The paths of art bifurcate with such variety, formal richness and content that it is difficult to discern the frontiers that distinguish it from reality.

To interpret such a circumstance in the work of the artist Grethell Rasúa demands a disposition of spirit, a sharp and unprejudiced eye that is able to see beyond the scams that art has to perceive appearances.

His creation slips between social insertion, the fulfillment of demands, the appropriation of the biographical, the handling of the autobiographical and the documentary, together with the processual perspective from which the works are constructed, reformulating in many of them the social values of taste that have their point of reference, in that capricious dialectic of the beautiful and the ugly.

An art with characteristics sustained in the social interaction, in the personal relations, sustained at the same time in aesthetic values, would seem to be an incongruent possibility, given that the social themes linked to the daily life, with tastes, habits, customs, beliefs, immediate to the decorative function that implants the culture of masses, were thought in many occasions, according to the canons established by that culture and not in those that offers the artistic appreciation. However, Grethell has managed to enable a poetics that compensates these levels, even if they emerge with a personal meaning, he has transformed the valuations and uses of objects for private use into biographical fetishes, manipulating their appearances and the tastes of consumption that sustain them.

Following this perspective, the new works presented in the exhibition, including installations, objects, photographs, drawings and video, despite their closeness to the decorative, do not respond to the functionality of these types of objects, because they have been conceived with a formal freedom that is subject to canons of beauty, being carriers of corporal waste, being submitted to the commission, or having been reworked by the artist, many with sentimental connotations, help us to corroborate, anticipating the known appearances, that we are in the terrain of an art carrier of singular referents.

So it is with the installation With all the taste of the world, which evolves from its exhibition in the manner of an exquisite "jewelry", to boxes containing objects resulting from the same procedure: the commission, its confection by the artist and the final result through which the ugly, abhorrent or unpleasant, has become something beautiful and exquisite.

One of the outstanding aspects of the interpretation of the aesthetics that moves between these categories lies in the visual solution of the works, far from the conventional, of the habitual norms to which we have become accustomed by consumption, in relation to personal garments and accessories, such as rings, bracelets and earrings. This can be seen in a ring containing 33 drops of blood, each in crystal and silver (representing the number of years of the artist). We cannot imagine a ring in the shape of a book, with sheets of glass added one by one to rest on the ring that holds them.

The canons of design and advertising are violated, trying to create a new world in which beauty, which is at the base of both, carries other senses that question it as a canon, maintaining its autotelic character, like the one we usually appreciate in autonomous works.

The artist rightly names the exhibition Beyond Beauty, because while the category of beauty emerges from a system of values, results of evaluations established by appreciation, on this occasion, this category becomes available to a creative process that mobilizes memories and feelings, appropriates elements of nature by mocking consumer tastes, denouncing how it is violated by that consumption.

Grethell, without renouncing the sediment that alludes to beauty, manages to make these presences mean something more than what his appearances demonstrate.

Doctor in Philosophical Sciences. Aesthetic Specialty.


The work of Grethell Rasúa can be inscribed among the most radical and interesting of a generation of Cuban artists barely over thirty years of age. His work is purely processual, there is a search in those blurred interceptions that occur between the aesthetic, the political and the social.

Rasúa knows how to investigate the margins of the social by-product in order to equate it with human waste. The eschatological is assumed as a return to ourselves. We have to touch and discover each other, interrogate each other, know where we came from. It dismantles the habit of taste and tests the political and social dualities from conditionings that are in the way we express the senses as a register of brain impulses. The beautiful and the ugly, the repulsive and the pleasant, pain and pleasure are historical constructions sedimented in anatomy that is induced by the forms of experience. The only thing Grethell has done is to upset what we have apprehended and inherited as tools to influence a present and create a space of knowledge of multiple interventions. (...)

Director of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba