Texts 2019-04-13T17:28:16+00:00

Andrea Cortellessa: Saturation, vertigo, foundering

«Monet is only one eye, yet what an eye!»
Cézanne

«It will be a big green sea, a saturation in green». That is what Abel Herrero told me the first time he described the painting he was working on for Salone delle Pietre. In fact Green motion – the title of the piece – follows the artist’s compositional principle he has experimented at least since 2008 with Black motion, followed in recent years by series like Yellow motion and Magenta motion. Let’s leave aside – at least for the time being – the different proportions, and also the different colours of these works. Let’s look instead at what they have in common. Every time, the element “put in motion” by Herrero’s painting is the same in every work of the series. It so appears that the “seascape” is one of the most traditionally accredited pictorial genres; and as such it would be unlikely – or so it would seem – to hold any surprise for us. According to tradition in fact – from Guardi to Friedrich, from Turner to Courbet, to de Chirico – painting the sea was considered by painters a show of strengh, the exercise of virtuosity par excellence. How to render in the medium of painting – by definition synchronic and immediate, unmovable and fixed – what is by definition the perpetuum mobile, the sea, which constantly changes its blending of light and colours? In what would turn out to be his last work of fiction, Palomar, Italo Calvino, the most “visual” writer of twentieth-century Italy, started precisely from this sort of phenomenological exercise as the key to «mastering the world’s complexity by reducing it to its simplest mechanism».

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Eugenio Viola | Removed in History

The Twentieth Century -­ the “short century” -­ with its revolutions and wars  of ideological religion, would become the era characteristic of the political commitment of intellectuals, who not only went on to defend their causes in the Anti-­Fascist and then State Socialism eras, but who werei dentified by both sides as the biggest burdens of invention in public debate.1

“Removed” translates as rimosso in Italian (removed, repressed in English), an enigmatic concept which historiography and mainly Freudian psychoanalysis have both long pondered, each investigating it through the specific approaches of their own disciplines.2  In fact, both attribute essential value to the past: the first by considering the past according to the timescale that makes it precede the present, and the second, instead, acknowledging it inside the present. Nevertheless, historiography and psychoanalysis also share other analogies: both, for example, attribute explicative value to the past and above all act as if the present is capable of explaining it. For both, furthermore, memory assumes an uncertain tendency: on the one hand, it presents as oblivion, or the loss of the past, and on the other as the return of that same past unwillingly forced to revealits actual “form”. However, historiography always appears via a place and time circumscribed for its production techniques, since every society considers -­ and defines -­ itself historically with the most appropriate tools.

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Demetrio Paparoni | Ideology and exile. Abel Herrero

Certain intellectuals who were active in Stalin’s Russia produced works that for a long time didn’t find their way onto the shelves of the libraries in countries that lay under Soviet influence. For them to be blacklisted, it was enough for them to be suspected of potentially undermining the stability of a system based on ideological conformism. However much silence breeds silence, the goal of suppressing the voices of these intellectuals did not always have a positive outcome in the long run. For some of them, the initiation of rehabilitation processes in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union had given them back an important place in the history of Russian culture. The power of writing and art in general, but also science which borders on philosophy, offers different ways of viewing the world. When the intellectual’s subjectivity arouses fascination, there is a risk of people becoming enamoured once again. And love, as we know, cannot be tamed. The threat that this represents for the political authority is therefore all about the concept of faith and the unconditional love that faith requires. Nowadays, as ever, the powers that be, whether great or small, expect blind adoration that leads one to hear redemption in their every word. They allow no room for doubt.The theme of incarceration and destruction of art and freedom of thought by the political authority is the theme of brutality against fragility. Abel Herrero, a native of Cuba, deals with this theme in the Removed exhibition, being held at the Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí, in Havana.

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Rafael Acosta de Arriba | Los fantasmas viven y sobreviven en las imágenes

El retrato en la pintura alimentó y recreó desde siempre a la Historia (así, con mayúsculas). El impulso de sustituir un cuerpo o un rostro por una imagen está muy cerca de los orígenes de la creación artística, como apuntó tempranamente el especialista León Battista Alberti a inicios del siglo XV. Retratar era una forma de unir una imagen a su contexto.
Con la práctica del retrato en el Renacimiento comenzó a establecerse el status de los iconos en la Edad Moderna, convirtiéndose en una tradición y confiriéndole a la pintura no solo una temática atractiva sino un papel secular. Ningún otro género pictórico de aquella gran época para el arte ofreció más libertad y respondió menos a pautas preestablecidas, tanto para el artista como para el retratado. De ahí su extraordinaria variedad tipológica y conceptual. Sin dudas, Abel Herrero ha bebido de aquella experiencia tan influyente para el arte moderno y contemporáneo.
En esta exposición coinciden dos propósitos principales. Por una parte, mostrar nuevamente en Cuba el arte de Herrero y, por la otra, plantear una reivindicación en el tiempo de un grupo de hombres que por motivos de diversa naturaleza quedaron relegados en una zona de sombra de la historia y que permanecieron hasta tiempos recientes en el anonimato total.

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Victor Fowler | Removed: una aventura de regreso

¿Qué ocurre cuando cambiamos (pasamos, nos desplazamos) desde una lengua hasta otra? ¿Por qué lo hacemos, con cuáles efectos o consecuencias? Desde un imaginario cultural y una tradición hasta otra: ¿adónde nos llevan los cruces o las distancias? ¿Mediante cuáles superposiciones? ¿Por qué una exposición de retratos mostrados en Cuba y hechos por un pintor de este mismo país muestra como nombre “removed” (en idioma inglés) a la vez que invita a ver los rostros de doce intelectuales soviéticos del período estalinista, todos represaliados y destruídos, asesinados la mayoría?
Según la edición electrónica del Gran Dicccionario Oxford (Oxford University Press, 2003) “remove” es verbo transitivo que significa “quitar, sacar” (take off). Los contextos de aplicación varían al punto de que el verbo serviría lo mismo para hablar de un “quitarse los guantes” que “quitar una venda”, “suprimir, excluir” que “eliminar”, “quitar de”, “sacar” o “desplazar”. Por su parte, The American Heritage Dictionary introduce casos de uso contextual como los de “remover óxido” o “remover capas de pintura” y, finalmente, The facts on file student’s dictionary of American English (2008) ofrece la más cruel de las posibilidades: “matar” (to kill).

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Walter Guadagnini | Dismisure

Starting with his canvases from twenty years ago, populated with animals engaged in the most curious occupations, anthropomorphized in their pose rather than form, in the superstructures of behaviour and dress, Herrero allowed us to sense what seemed to be a fairytale approach, which was in reality pataphysical, to the image and its meaning. Those were, on closer inspection, also modified organisms; an imaginary bestiary which on one hand referenced a long tradition of painting and illustration, while on the other – and perhaps most importantly – an approach to nature and the appearances of the world imbued with Surrealist visionary style. It was not so much Cocteau’s version of “Beauty and the Beast”, and not even Dalì’s clever scenes, one might think of Ernst’s zoomorphic figures, cleansed of the symbolic, totemic aspect, pared back to their origin of metamorphosis in progress. Born out of Dada still, of its non-sense conceived as the only opportunity to interact with the surrounding world, created however using the instruments of painting, to perhaps emphasise, given the times, the fundamental impracticality of his style of making art. Herrero’s artistic action was thus built on these foundations, rendered increasingly complex in both the range of tools and figurative pretexts, in the overall appearance of the artwork.

read more  ENG  ITA

Andrea Cortellessa: Saturation, vertigo, foundering

«Monet is only one eye, yet what an eye!»
Cézanne

«It will be a big green sea, a saturation in green». That is what Abel Herrero told me the first time he described the painting he was working on for Salone delle Pietre. In fact Green motion – the title of the piece – follows the artist’s compositional principle he has experimented at least since 2008 with Black motion, followed in recent years by series like Yellow motion and Magenta motion. Let’s leave aside – at least for the time being – the different proportions, and also the different colours of these works. Let’s look instead at what they have in common. Every time, the element “put in motion” by Herrero’s painting is the same in every work of the series. It so appears that the “seascape” is one of the most traditionally accredited pictorial genres; and as such it would be unlikely – or so it would seem – to hold any surprise for us.

read more  ENG  ITA

Eugenio Viola | Removed in History

The Twentieth Century -­ the “short century” -­ with its revolutions and wars  of ideological religion, would become the era characteristic of the political commitment of intellectuals, who not only went on to defend their causes in the Anti-­Fascist and then State Socialism eras, but who werei dentified by both sides as the biggest burdens of invention in public debate.1

“Removed” translates as rimosso in Italian (removed, repressed in English), an enigmatic concept which historiography and mainly Freudian psychoanalysis have both long pondered, each investigating it through the specific approaches of their own disciplines.2  In fact, both attribute essential value to the past: the first by considering the past according to the timescale that makes it precede the present, and the second, instead, acknowledging it inside the present.

read more  ENG  ITA

Demetrio Paparoni | Ideology and exile. Abel Herrero

Certain intellectuals who were active in Stalin’s Russia produced works that for a long time didn’t find their way onto the shelves of the libraries in countries that lay under Soviet influence. For them to be blacklisted, it was enough for them to be suspected of potentially undermining the stability of a system based on ideological conformism. However much silence breeds silence, the goal of suppressing the voices of these intellectuals did not always have a positive outcome in the long run. For some of them, the initiation of rehabilitation processes in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union had given them back an important place in the history of Russian culture. The power of writing and art in general, but also science which borders on philosophy, offers different ways of viewing the world. When the intellectual’s subjectivity arouses fascination, there is a risk of people becoming enamoured once again.

read more  ENG  ITA

Rafael Acosta de Arriba | Los fantasmas viven y sobreviven en las imágenes

El retrato en la pintura alimentó y recreó desde siempre a la Historia (así, con mayúsculas). El impulso de sustituir un cuerpo o un rostro por una imagen está muy cerca de los orígenes de la creación artística, como apuntó tempranamente el especialista León Battista Alberti a inicios del siglo XV. Retratar era una forma de unir una imagen a su contexto.
Con la práctica del retrato en el Renacimiento comenzó a establecerse el status de los iconos en la Edad Moderna, convirtiéndose en una tradición y confiriéndole a la pintura no solo una temática atractiva sino un papel secular. Ningún otro género pictórico de aquella gran época para el arte ofreció más libertad y respondió menos a pautas preestablecidas, tanto para el artista como para el retratado.

read more

Victor Fowler | Removed: una aventura de regreso

¿Qué ocurre cuando cambiamos (pasamos, nos desplazamos) desde una lengua hasta otra? ¿Por qué lo hacemos, con cuáles efectos o consecuencias? Desde un imaginario cultural y una tradición hasta otra: ¿adónde nos llevan los cruces o las distancias? ¿Mediante cuáles superposiciones? ¿Por qué una exposición de retratos mostrados en Cuba y hechos por un pintor de este mismo país muestra como nombre “removed” (en idioma inglés) a la vez que invita a ver los rostros de doce intelectuales soviéticos del período estalinista, todos represaliados y destruídos, asesinados la mayoría?
Según la edición electrónica del Gran Dicccionario Oxford (Oxford University Press, 2003) “remove” es verbo transitivo que significa “quitar, sacar” (take off). Los contextos de aplicación varían al punto de que el verbo serviría lo mismo para hablar de un “quitarse los guantes” que “quitar una venda”…

read more

Walter Guadagnini | Dismisure

Starting with his canvases from twenty years ago, populated with animals engaged in the most curious occupations, anthropomorphized in their pose rather than form, in the superstructures of behaviour and dress, Herrero allowed us to sense what seemed to be a fairytale approach, which was in reality pataphysical, to the image and its meaning. Those were, on closer inspection, also modified organisms; an imaginary bestiary which on one hand referenced a long tradition of painting and illustration, while on the other – and perhaps most importantly – an approach to nature and the appearances of the world imbued with Surrealist visionary style. It was not so much Cocteau’s version of “Beauty and the Beast”, and not even Dalì’s clever scenes, one might think of Ernst’s zoomorphic figures, cleansed of the symbolic, totemic aspect, pared back to their origin of metamorphosis in progress.

read more  ENG  ITA