Chips off the same block

November 2012

"Chips off the same block" is an exhibition of the work of two Cuban artists each of whose unique vision transcends race, ideology or fashion in order to advocate that we enter the realm of both the human and the transcendental. A common denominator with these two artists is their use of the collagraph and dry point. But to better understand their work, I recommend that you read these artists' statements.

I do not propose to see the present through
the eyes of those who see us through the filter of our past. This would be just more of the
same. Enough with trying to nourish ourselves with empty calories that turn our history into
an object, or a flag, symbol of a vision that limits our virtue and impoverishes our culture.

Enrique (Tente) Miralles

In the work of Enrique Miralles you can see a touch the theatricality and even alchemy that characterizes his times.

What you will not see in his work is a need to present negritude as a narrative that draws from a sustained historical, religious, cultural or social vision of the Negro. Even less will you see the festering patterns that metabolize rancor in order to define the Afrocubano. Rather, Enrique places us in front of situations that invite us to delight in that which is human without resorting to the vain limitations of colour, situations in which his protagonists enter into relationships and mysteries that structure their identity. Family, friends, city, neighbourhood, even publicity, or all of them together, these are the real protagonists of his pictures.

As a tireless worker, addicted to the marvelous world of images, Enrique's preferred medium is the collagraph and dry point. These he uses to tell his tales.

In his sepia-toned images the erotic dialogue of light and flesh bring unexpected objects into harmony. So cutting tools, simple utensils of daily use, or animals, along with text, articulate a symbolic geography that transforms these “collages” into an invitation to explore the imaginary, flirtatious, ludic, lyrical and sometimes ironic or absurd Cuban way of thinking, as in a drama in which that which is true and that which is uncertain are equals. From the voice of our hypothetical Cuban there tend to be two voices... there are two truths; truths and lies, each in its measure... in this way we can enter into his syncretic presence, and the artistic context of his island.

That glimpse, free from the constraints of
time, that gives me peace

Antonio (Nico) Acosta

For Antonio Acosta, art is an established iconography to which the artist has recourse in order to formulate themes through which he can interpret his world. He confronts it as one who contemplates a landscape: his gaze is slow, peaceful and silent, an attenuated inspiration. It falls outside accustomed rhythms.

His pictures offer us a unique presentation of apparent reality, onewhich leads to a new place in our minds.

Antonio's images incorporate everything, integrating all into a place suspended in space, on a path somewhere between the real, the emotional. They offer a new vision of time, not one whose trajectory is past-present-future, but one which offers a new vision of what time is, one which occurs in our mind, one in which one time encounters another, creating short circuits.

This is why some of his images bring to mind antique photos, while others we simply can't place in time. The artist manipulates appearances to provoke a touch of nostalgia, one that confounds past with present. Obviously he knows that all is present, that we live in the present, but what he does is to approach a real object not in order to reproduce it, rather to reinterpret it in a new and perhaps truer form.

This interest drives Antonio to use light as his principal tool: sometimes he strips bare surfaces by bathing them in an intense light; at other times he suppresses texture in order to emphasize form. We can see clearly in his work a love for a muted mysterious light that immerses the quotidian in a sort of limbo. It is this diffuse light that turns the sky gray, that wraps his images in a sort of mist, submerging all in a strange opaline atmosphere.

The handling of light so essential to the visual arts is key to understanding Antonio's work, because it is through contrast accented or drawn out to its limits that the artist launches his discourse thus converting form into poetry. His work manages to transcend mere documentation in order to arrive at a vision which is universal and speaks of universal values.