Notes of Amilkar Feria from the collective exhibition TO IMAGE and LIKENESS in it manufactures it of Cuban art.  oct 2019

Enrique Rottenberg, Gabriel Guerra Bianchini, Cirenaica Moreira, Andy de Calzadilla, Ailen Maleta, Yanahara Mauri, Katiuska Saavedra, Rafael Miranda San Juan, Ronald Vill, René Peña, Lázaro Saavedra, Jenny Brito, Fernando Rodríguez, Reinier Nande, Alejandra González, Lianet Martínez, Adonis Flores, Gabriela Reyna, Adonis Ferro, VAE, Irolán Maroselli, Liudmila&. Nelson, José Toirac, Elio Jesús, Gertrudis Rivalta Oliva, Mabel Poblet, Carlos Quintana. They seem many, but in truth it is a social corpuscle reflected from the contemporary Cuban visuality. The self-portrait, the human entity and its identity, the result in the first instance of the physiological activity of the most enigmatic organ of the body, and then of culture, leads us to ask ourselves, Who are we, beyond that counter-made construction, erected from how we are described, from what we believe ourselves to be?

It is really a difficult question to clarify, with many answers, all of them subjective, even those of the somatón, whose reading is also human. At least we have some interpretations of our ego: religious, political, scientific, artistic..., all of them moderately identifiable pieces of a single consciousness, the human one. Without going into the matter any further, it would take us a few unnecessary reasoning for the occasion, the perception we have of ourselves starts from a corrupt basis. It would be like the initial deposit of an account guaranteed by our predecessors, who provide us with a murky assortment of learned things, not all good or useful. It is from here that the stretch of misunderstandings begins, that of social life (human life, since donkeys cannot afford to make mistakes every three steps).

Of all the above, we can only become aware when what we "are" begins to question itself philosophically, existentially, unfolding its terms and cultural nuances in an exploratory way, especially if the subject is a creator. The surprises discovered in our interior revisions, which are also in Rembrandt's self-portraits, or in all his life and work, begin to filter through the retaining walls of the Ego, revealing many fissures, most of the time deliberately and sloppily hidden afterwards; when not, they manifest themselves in a stark way (see the work of Francis Bacon). The title of this exhibition outlines the figure of God, as a paradigm of created creator. And if something is shown to us in image and likeness, as in the Genesis of the Old Testament, it is because there is also a small gap of doubt, in which likeness is not equivalent to accuracy. Just as we have created a God of human appearance (perhaps the first collective self-portrait, unpolluted, omnipotent, purified of any animal origin), only to govern our miscarriages, we intentionally place ourselves in a disadvantageous position in relation to our creation. Only by knowing that it is fiction can we risk mocking it, making it more flexible for every purpose.

If we are capable of perpetuating such a fallacy, somewhere far above our heads, how can we not elaborate any other image, in our likeness, as a simple practice of mental speculation? We already know that the silicon contained in glass has such a liquid composition that, with time, it ends up draining, deforming the image reflected by the mirrors. Optical metaphor apart, we will never be able to speak of exactitudes in our changing self-perception, in any case of appearances almost always manipulated. After all, we become so attached to our ego that we take affection for it; we defend it and take care of it, to such an extent that even the exhumation of our darkest chinks is presented with aesthetizing care, finely mounted with mouldings and passe-partout: "this is me, wretched and miserable mirage of myself", and on one side: "for sale".

A very drinking edge of this exhibition is that of those creators who unfold into other I's (openly different from themselves), thus manifesting the casuistic possibility of being, physically, others, even symbols or allegories of different ideals from the divine. With such an interpretation, the Zen idea of the dissolution of the ego does not come to be reached, simply trans-polished (otherwise, it would deprive us of the vision of the individual in the being, that which is, at least genetically, unrepeatable). Throughout History, the self-portrait has been a generic exercise, almost a curiosity, since we know more about artists for their work than for the image reflected night after night in front of the lamp in their studio (excluding from this criterion artists of the lineage of Frida Kahlo, for whom both things were only one). Who was Joseph Beuys? That tall Germanic, Nazi fighter pilot, restrained, wearing a wing hat? Or someone who transfigured the face of art in the second half of the last century, with blocks of fat and felt, or cohabiting with a coyote? The trinity configured by the artist, his avatars and his work, underpinning each other, could be the best portrait of a constructive state for the individual Self. In a world where (famous) individuality has as much weight as pattern, it is logical that one wants to know what they look like. It is almost certain that this curiosity will give rise to the reinterpretation we make of ourselves, by mimesis or contraposition. Since everything is so mediated, and each curriculum has photos of the artists, it is also natural that the introspection of the self-portrait seeks more in conceptual aspects, supposedly medullar for each one.   

Text and photos: Amilkar Feria Flores
Palatine Entropic Observatory / October 6, 2019, 12:10am