Nice time to start painting: Stacey Gillian Abe, Maxwell Alexandre, Cristina Canale, Flavio Garciandía, Luis E. López-Chávez, Miguel A. Machado, Agnes Waruguru, José Yaque

27 November 2022 - 28 January 2023
Bode Havana (address):
Aguiar 111 between Cuartéles and Chacón,
La Habana Vieja (Old Havana)
 
Despite being part of the genetic information of painting, which means it has been and always will be there, it was not until the irruption of the avant-garde in the twentieth century that abstraction began to self-identify as a fundamental dimension within the Western pictorial language. It was, we might say, a repositioning of the focal point of art, committed to generating a world of its own based on the mastery of medial specificities. Clement Greenberg asserted that it was on the path of the absolute that the avant-garde arrived at abstract art and poetry attempting “in effect to imitate God by creating something valid solely on its own terms”, i.e., an art whose meaning was encoded in its form or aesthetic values and that it did not refer to another reality outside itself.

 

The abstract endeavor very quickly demonstrated that its essentialist and universal will was only one of the many ways of understanding the object of art. However, from the point of view of pictorial language and canonical modes of representation, abstraction considerably widened the spectrum of compositional law and the relationship between background and figure. On the one hand, abstraction would untie painting from the imperative of figuration and the illusion of realism by flattening the elements within the canvas and breaking with the very idea of “a scene”. On the other hand, it would heighten the importance of motifs presented while simultaneously generating a sort of “atomization” and “decentralization” effect within the work. This change in the discipline triggered its expressive potentialities.

 

Nowadays, after the avant-gardes and their great absolutes, painting is moving towards an intersectional, hybrid, mestizo territory. A territory that relies on axioms and historical canons to reinvent, often in a very personal manner, the medium. If not to invent anything, to exist under its own rules that cannot be generalized to all art. The artists gathered in this exhibition renounce the temptation to lay down a path to follow, knowing that each region, country, school, and individualized history has non-transferable questions and concerns. Recognizing this aspect is the key to the emergence of productions that detach themselves from a specific duty to be and are nourished by referents more related to their time and circumstances than to the times of the discipline.

 

The insistence on painting, then, operates as an exercise of resistance that moves against the grain not only of the old abstraction-figuration dichotomy but also of the elegiac discourses that sentence, from time to time, the death of painting. These painters are heirs to Julian Schnabel's already iconic maxim about the recurrent idea of the exhaustion of the medium: “I thought that if painting is dead, then it’s a nice time to start painting”.
 
– Daleysi Moya