Eliseo Valdes

Captivating Glances, Conquering Spaces

By Elaine Caballero Sabugueiro 

Man and nature, two such powerful forces capable of mutating in time and provoking another reality. In that perfect symbiosis, artists have unleashed their spiritual and imaginative world to show that we are made of poetry, beyond the blood that runs through our veins. 

Under this premise, the Cuban sculptor and painter Eliseo Valdes Erustes masters the art of forms. He turns the inanimate into living objects, without being carried away by superfluous or repeated formulas. 

Next to him, iron, stone, marble or steel take on different meanings, not only because after exquisite work they acquire monumental dimensions, but also because of the emotions they arouse in the spectator, whether  strangeness, satisfaction or astonishment.

Eliseo’s sculptures defy the glances; they reach another dimension by understanding their genesis. Not one of his works lacks that sensation of greatness, even when the size varies and it may not be exorbitant at first sight. 

The impression of being in front of a piece of great aesthetic and conceptual caliber is almost a compelling, spontaneous and involuntary thought. He considers himself a «geometric abstract» par excellence and, although he claims not to be a perfectionist, his sculptures speak of meticulous person, immense in the most unique details of art. 

Sistemas, one of his most relevant personal exhibitions, amazes for the elegance of the pieces. In the face of such perfection, few stop to think what the secret is. His works represent countless hours of study under the premise of creating suitable structures and combinations. He even submits life itself to judgment if it is necessary to (re)think its course. 

Faithfully committed to his art, Eliseo studies in depth the space where he will leave traces of identity. He lets himself be carried away by the essence of each medium, to start a perpetual journey with creation itself without return. Landscape and artist intertwine like faithful confidants of memory, making it impossible to separate them from their context. 

Ever since he sculpted Salt Seagull with chisel and hammer in 1983 (lacking newer methods in those days), his professional rise has been marked by his sensitivity and skillfulness. He knew then that the road would be long, sometimes complex and full of difficulties, but as essential requirement he would have a unique voice in the paths of Cuban art.

Eliseo Valdes has also discovered a fascinating planet in painting. Having the wish to leave his trace in colors, oils and other materials, this art form allows him to achieve experiences linked to introspection, always with the latent eagerness to be himself. His ideas grow as someone who knows the integrating vision of art to explain the origin of the world. 

If we continue with those precepts, the creator’s eroticist perspective may be understood as symbol of continuity. Since ancient times the human being has found in sexuality the perfect element to soothe corporal passions.

Eliseo arrives with a similar argument without mental taboos, but indeed full of enigmas. He goes to the very essence of the sensorial, by means of a detailed synthesis and a reflective discourse full of empathy. He opens the range of knowledge to suggest different readings, questions and subtleties. He seduces with silence and plays with total freedom and without resentments. He advances confidently because he knows, with certainty, the pleasures of this system of things called life.

At the same time he leaves clear signs that free us from the sexual prejudice inherited as social pattern. To stop the glance in the extremities and organs with which we engender life is a necessary attitude in pieces like Tras la fina senda, El otoño en su labio muere, Inside or Géminis. The spectator feels free, as if years of retrograde doctrines were taken away from him, before the boldness of his strokes and the folds of his sculptures.

He has not remained stuck in the past, and several of his works have been  printed in 3D format under the same aesthetic and conceptual principles. The principle of greatness does not succumb to the new technology; its essence is maintained almost by antonomasia and sense of belonging, like a river that in the end discovers its own bed. 

There are more than enough phrases to characterize him, although the most accurate would be sculptor of nuances, of exotic dimensions, and opulent strokes. His pieces have reached the Far East in horizons different from those imagined. In Cuba we can decipher him in Matanzas, Bayamo, as well as at the entrance of the Servando Cabrera Museum, the University of Computer Science and other locations. 

With no time for ephemeral art, Eliseo Valdes has known how to forge a name for himself, renew himself, and find his destiny. His sculptures evidence that we will always go in search of that defying, iconic and emblematic image that will make us surpass ourselves as human beings.

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