III. The Inner Journey: Conscience, Refuge, and Protection

Looking inside oneself is one of the human being’s most complex and risky personal challenges, since it demands will, intellectual capacity and courage. For an artist, looking inside himself implies an immersion into the very act of creation, where he must find out why and how the object or idea he will produce will be the most accurate way to communicate with the outer world. He will not always be able to express it in words, but it appears in the works and totally depends of the extent and quality of his living experience. It is in this glance inside the artistic creation when we amplify the very concept of journey that lies beyond the displacement or immovability. Although we cannot isolate the works from the immediate circumstances in which we produce them, we should not ignore the diversity of their ingredients, since they are much more numerous and come from different sources without excluding that ‘genetic element’ we call talent.

In order to understand the itinerary of such creative journeys, it is advisable to always appeal to the voice of their creators in the first person, since they usually provide the keys to their inner processes. When trying to define those processes, they sharpen their senses and tell us: “…our entire experience develops in our mind, and there we are alone…” (Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez); “…it is a long process that started when I decided to travel with my mind…” (Alejandro Campins); “…I started by carrying almost nothing but my hands and looking for a place to call ‘home’ (Jacqueline Maggi); “…when painting, I fully realize that all I am painting is conscience…” (Tomás Sánchez).

Alejandro Campins

Alejandro Campins’ paintings are the sedimentation of knowledge and of many imagined and real journeys. The dozens of small drawings he made during his years as an art student in Cuba contain those imagined journeys; his first real ones are in his photographs as documentary platform of his itineraries, but definitely in the paintings that have earned him a leading place since his debut in the international art scene at the end of the 2000s. Drawings and photographs make up the original archives, the repositories of ideas, the tempos that the artist takes for his research; the paintings, on the other hand, are the sublimation of that process. From his travels, Campins selects those geographies, architectures and landscapes that were once distinct scenes of splendor, prosperity, culture, wars, ideologies, but today are only abandoned spaces vandalized by hatred and forgotten by history. His paintings speak of the ‘impermanent’, that philosophical condition that evidences the relativity of values and the fragility of reality. The works of this new series titled Altares (Altars) were inspired by small, precarious patriotic monuments charged with political ideology that fill the streets, parks, schools and public institutions of towns and cities of Cuba. The doctrinarian purpose of those popular altars that enlivened generations of Cubans in recent decades has vanished; we walk by without even noticing their ruins: “We have grown up together with these forms of sacred and religious nature that are now deteriorated and abandoned, as if expressing a crisis of faith.” – Alejandro Campins

Untitled (cuarto) 2, 2020 | Digital print mounted on dibond | 100 x 150 cm

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Untitled (The Studio), 2020 | Digital print mounted on dibond | 100 x 150 cm

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Untitled (Pasillo), 2020 | Digital print mounted on dibond | 100 x 150 cm

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Untitled (cuarto) , 2020 | Digital print mounted on dibond | 100 x 150 cm

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez obtained a bachelor degree in Visual Arts from the Higher Institute of Art of Havana in 2013, where she studied photography, video, drawing, and sculpture, but previously she had been a ballet dancer. Crucial for her present work was her understanding since an early age that the spaces we inhabit can be temporary scenarios constructed and interpreted by the imagination. This has granted particular relevance to the diverse and always nomadic spaces of her living experience. The changeable condition of her theatrical education influences the photographic nature of her work, granting particular importance to the diverse and always nomadic spaces of her living experience. However, the aura of unreality in her photographs does not lessen their condition of perfect document of importance to her. Sánchez Gutiérrez cares for the spaces she has inhabited or others she imagines, charged with the emotions she may have felt in them, the still not altogether vanished memories, and the sensations – real or not – that those spaces evoke.

From the Series 00:00:00 (Untitled), 2018 | Basswood model | 62 x 52 x 39 cm

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Available

However, how can one represent them when they combine tangible and intangible? The most efficient way is to construct them in the most aseptic form possible, so that nothing or no one previously touches or contaminates them. That is why she builds sculptural models with handicraft mastery and perpetuates them in the way that only photography can. She manipulates the models in her studio, illuminates them artificially, and ‘portrays’ them from those angles that, according to her, most favor them. She treats them according to what they are: the perfect models of the reality that interests her, since the other reality does not exist. What lies beyond her is not essential for her work. As we know, that is exactly what every documentary photography does: framing to exclude.

The works of the recent series 00:00:00 reproduce, like a second skin, the architecture of the bathrooms, rooms, corridors, and stairs where she lived during her student years and later as a professional. These models contain virtual spaces of her life; they are not empty, not at all, but we only see them from outside. She has prepared them for an eventual journey, when she would take them with her. They are the containers of herself, spaces she has called of ‘self-absorption’ or introspection.

Untitled (escalera), 2020 | Digital print mounted on dibond | 100 x 150 cm

Linet Sánchez Gutiérrez

Available

From the Series “Shelters" No. 4, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

Available

From the Series “Shelters” No. 12 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

Available

Jacqueline Maggi

As a child, Jacqueline Maggi migrated with her family to Cuba, where she grew up and became one of the most important artists and art professors until the early 90s. Her initial academic education as printer soon derived to the third dimension, turning her plates into pioneer objects and installations in Cuba. To her inspiring teaching activity in the classrooms of the National School of Art of Havana we owe the conceptual training of many of the most interesting contemporary Cuban artists, some of them present in this exhibition.

From the Series “Shelters" No. 6, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

From the Series “Shelters” No. 7 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

From the Series “Shelters" No. 20, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

From the Series “Shelters" No. 3 | Reued carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

Maggi’s work is the summary of her disagreements, desires, absences, rebellions, frustrations, and losses, which she manages to exorcise through the rudeness of the materials she employs and the violence involved in the craft. The Series Shelters she has been creating since 2008 in an obsessive and permanent process consists of carved or intervened bricks from the demolition of buildings or traces of construction materials found in Washington, D.C, where she lives.

From the Series “Shelters" No. 24 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

Available

From the Series “Shelters" No. 10, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

From the Series “Shelters" No. 26, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

From the Series “Shelters" No. 21, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

From the Series “Shelters" No. 9, 2022 | Reused carved and intervened brick with several materials | ca. 12 x 25 x 6 cm

Jacqueline Maggi

Referring to these works, she tells us: “And so I built my Shelters… Coming from a family of multiple migrations, I moved from Havana some twenty years ago carrying almost nothing but my hands and looking for a place to call home. A story essential to humanity, striving to build a refuge for security, shelter, protection, peace, relief. Everything started with the discovery of an old brick. I patiently take pains in trying to give these bricks a new meaning as they speak to me. Manipulating, carving or adding elements to them, painting or drawing on them. The modest brick is always the first piece. It is the simplest expression of that visceral and ancestral need of human beings to find refuge. It can be protection or prison, or abandonment. It can be sleep or sleeplessness, family or loneliness. It can be crying or joy, hope or risk. It can be pain or peace. It can be your land or exile. All that and more.”

Tomás Sánchez

The work of Tomás Sánchez is the closest material achievement (if we could say that a painting is synonym of matter) to what he calls the ‘expansion of the conscience’, a term with which he tries to convey the sensory and intellectual experience produced in him by the disciplined, systematic, and convinced practice of meditation and the pleasure of painting. Decades of spiritual training and research contrast with the aridity and intolerance endured during his years as an art student in Cuba, and with the repression by political detractors at the beginning of his career. They were also years of aesthetic decantation that took him from expressionism to landscape painting, avoiding the straitjackets inherent to such classifications.

The historiography of art has assigned certain definitions to him without understanding that his most accurate vocation in art and life is the cult of nature. There is a deceitful element in all of Sánchez’ work in the apparent photorealism of his landscapes and the mystic that underlies them. Nothing reproduces less the reality of a landscape than the meticulous vegetation painted by the artist. It would seem immodest for him to say, “I give up in the face of many paintings because I realize that what I feel cannot be expressed with pigments.” The study of art and the living experience have led him to create the greatest synthesis of the landscape. A bi-univocal relation exists between the landscape he sees and the one he thinks, but neither one achieves purity. He uses the first one, the one he ‘sees’ as starting point, but rounds it up with the one he ‘thinks’. The outcome resembles the palms he started painting in his early years: “…they were royal palms; the palm I paint today is a hybrid of them all.”

Portrait of Tomás Sánchez

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