Exhibition by Ben Jones. National museum of Fine arts (Building of Universal Art), San Rafael street between Monserrate and Zulueta, Old Havana. Julio-October 2017
Creation and promotion of African-American art in Ben Jones
by: Antonio Fernández Seoane
Well known to Cubans in the world of contemporary and postmodern plastic arts, Ben Jones (in addition to his status as an artist committed to his time and the society in which he lives) is an exceptional promoter of his country's art.
It is precisely this conditioning factor that has allowed us to get to know, in partial or stratified ways, and through collective exhibitions curated or organized by him, the African-American art he represents.
Ben Jones has collaborated exhibitionally with the Havana Biennials and the National Museum of Fine Arts, which now rewards these characteristics by organizing his first personal exhibition in the Universal Art Building from July 21 to October 23.
The exhibition, entitled Resistance, is presented in the transitory room on the fourth level; a space that has been able to make convincing use of its narrow dimensions for the artist's ideo-aesthetic purposes.
Focusing on issues of singular transcendence of the human being, such as survival or insertion into the environment, Ben Jones could surpass his interest in racial conflicts; although he always turns to certain and certain elements that, discovered, are coined "as a system of signs or codes of negritude", according to the curator of the exhibition Carlos V. Fernández, in the text that complements his museographic script.
And with it, Ben Jones does not let escape other key aspects for his pictorial-graphic experimentation: the political relations that lead to those violences and to a reflective incursion on more current social and anthropological themes that reveal all their crudity of overwhelming ignominy.
Several world events, the Black Power and Black Panthers civil movements, and more recently the oil disaster caused by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico during 2010 (among others), contributed to a great community activity as part of the generation of change, between black creators and intellectuals of their country.
Thus, he managed to conceive an artistic, ecological and political iconology that advocates a healthier existence; a metaphor, then, in this plastic work, of life damaged by the environmental catastrophe, to which is added the investigation he has carried out around racial violence.
His aesthetics are thus distinguished by the reflection of the codes of negritude at a global level; and his work, clearly influenced by the Yoruba culture of Africa, Brazil and Cuba, is erected in series; and technically it becomes plural, experimental, highlighting in it a kind of horror of emptiness, with bright colors and a massive amalgam of figurations and signs of other emblems.
Recognized among the main figures of Black Art Movement, Ben Jones presents us in this first exhibition at the National Museum of Fine Arts, a song to human resistance, a confrontation before phenomena that turns into art of true aesthetic values, a virtual dialogue before the ugliness of the facts and the truth of the creation of noble art, an effective vehicle for the convictions that a better world is possible.