Among Cronopios, Undefinable Characters and Subtle Fulgurations
By Antonio Correa Iglesias
Normal? What is normal? In my opinion, normal is just the ordinary, the mediocre.
Life belongs to those odd and exceptional individuals who dare to be different…
De cronopios y famas
It was when I recalled Julio Cortázar’s De cronopios y famas that I was able to compare the atmosphere in which the works of Lisyanet Rodríguez and Maikel Domínguez create what I have called subtle fulgurations. With caution and cynicism transmuted into innocence, these two creators invade the Miami art spaces to clear the jungle where the political fanfare usually reigns, disguised as literary or aesthetic exercise. It is difficult to clear the way under such circumstances when make-up and performance predominate. As in all (or almost all) things, something that I wouldn’t know how to define (because it wouldn’t be the truth or the right thing) asserts itself.
Two creators, two morphologies, two confluent visions, two gravitating ontologies establish a dialogue with contemporariness by restructuring classic canons.
Painting as genre, and particularly Cuban painting, has reappeared in an unusual way in the last ten years. The painting trend centered around a certain vision has “displaced” a production based on the new media that had set itself up as guarantee of contemporariness.
Lisyanet Rodríguez and Maikel Domínguez are indeed visually opposed; however, what makes them coincide is a critical standpoint regarding one of the canonic forms of western painting, evidencing the infinite capacities of a medium that refuses to be limited to a specific form. With a rather unusual mastery of drawing and painting, these two creators establish an image that is not always restricted to what has been known as abstraction, portrait, hyperrealism or pop-art. Availing themselves of the techniques inherent to these secular forms, they rather produce an image that is closer to what Cortázar called “cronopio”, a sort of dissipative or root-like structure, unattainable, indefinable in its full extension and magnitude. Not only do the outlines reflect this escape; the very evanescence in their composition, characters and drama create a dynamics where the theatricality overflows and devours the entire canvas surface. The very fleetingness of their characters creates an absent structure that does not require being “represented”, because in their very phantasmagoric nature they destroy the Aristotelian causality merging with the unconditional, a foundational principle of what José Lezama Lima called “imaginary eras”, a sort of extended historicity that refuses to be linear and teleological. That is why the figures-characters-compositions of these two creators lack a form in their canonic sense, are substance-ousias, Aristotle would say.
While Maikel, in his general chromatic overflow, creates a planimetry, a sort of grid of the experience where he fits figures that refuse to be planimetric, Lisyanet reduces her chromatic universe to explore a physiognomy in which its mutations abandon the body to merge in a sort of Vishnu, tutelary goddess. In any one of the cases, the bodies lack memory, lack psyche (a psyche without a body, as called by Macedonio Fernández), a sort of anxiety to submerge into and emerge from the void. Hence the estrangement produced by the figurations of these two images, a kind of extremely lacerating ontological suspension compared in its sparkling conciseness.
Lisyanet and Maikel live in a bunker where art is the shield against the demons crowding pedestals and cornices. Lisyanet and Maikel live without windows, and a pigmented concrete wall of sarcastic and sublime appearance makes us bend our weak skeleton to penetrate a space inhabited by many although we may have the illusory sensation that we are alone. Their secular morphologies, their high contrasts in contrasting figures, their illusory inventions, their counter meanings, their peaceful winks and tenderness hide a sinister sensation. The human being is alone in the world, he only has himself and his creative ability; that is what makes up his existence. And this is precisely what is searched by these two creators. The androgynous in Lisyanet, the search of the other, the return to the origins from which the divisions of ideas and language one day started out, the search of an identity that merges with the other that is already oneself without being it. Hence their figures, as if wanting to penetrate each other in a heartbreaking and mutually fruitful act.
At the other end is Maikel, who recreates the grid from the experience of ruling in squares. Though ennobled with pale shades, the canvas grid reduces everything to a secular and obituary order. Only the sudden figurations that occasionally turn the fright into a super nature save us from being devoured by a nominal linearity. And it is because Maikel compels to a not always desired, but required dialogue between order and chaos, between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The truth is that his painting creates a seminal estrangement where at intervals one feels that something does not fit.
With prodigious hands, these two artists give solid steps to create an image that is scarcely Cuban and largely universal. This may be an element to be considered in the most contemporary Cuban painting production. Many artists of this generation have assimilated an understanding of the history of Cuban art with the sole purpose of putting it aside and keep going ahead. The festive trend offered by this freedom can only produce works (from a critical knowledge) where the density eliminates any decorative attempt or sign of it.
The spaces of expression in which Lisyanet Rodríguez and Maikel Domínguez have created an image are only successive approaches, tensions produced by the creative process, as one whose language is insufficient to convey everything he says. For that reason L. Wittgenstein at times chose to remain silent. The convincing image, the laborious, paradoxical and exuberant narrative associated to these symbolical structures break that primary impulse linked to the ephemeral, to penetrate deep into its “best definition”. That is why their human traces gain life; they are not just strokes on a chromatic canvas.
Lisyanet Rodríguez and Maikel Domínguez do not lower themselves to simplicity; for them, as for José Lezama Lima, only what is difficult is stimulating. Deprived of simulation and of the sarcastic wish to resemble, these two creators do what they best know how to do, with meticulous devotion. Their works are a challenge to indecency and symbolical indigence; they are frantic stop motion, the fluttering of a white dove that announces the unexpectedly unimaginable.
Maikel Domínguez and Lisyanet Rodríguez have taken the lid off the soup bowl of a lavish banquet like those that Augusta organized in the pages of Paradiso, only to be shared by the chosen ones.