Entre Dos Ríos was an amazing conversation between Hermes Entenza an I. Painting has not been a point of focus for me throughout my practice. This opportunity allowed me to explore both my city, Cuba and painting.
I have done much work in the Los Angeles river of the years. The water has been used on more than one occasion as an element of various projects. However, this is the first time I utilize it as a base material for the piece. The water taken from the river was what I used for the watercolor. A pleasant surprise occurred on a textural level as the watercolors were manipulated. The chemical makeup of the water caused the paper saturated in the water to alter it’s capacity to hold color where various deposits were left. Hermes’ river was the Río Yayabo in Sancti Spritus, Cuba, mine was the Los Angeles River.
The show itself was quite an novel experience for me. In both my academic training as well as my exhibitions in galleries throughout the US and Canada I have obsessed with the execution of the exhibit on terms of work an display. How the work is handled and shown has the capacity to affect the meaning of the work. However, in Cuba there are many realities that caused me to adjust my thinking to the situation. Materials such as frames an paper are very difficult to come across.
Hermes had to actually put a call out to people in surrounding areas to find enough frames for all the work. Then I was asked to bring paper from Canada to act as the backing for the paintings. Since I was flying with a lot of gear and the paintings it was impossible to bring traditional matte paper. Therefore, I had to bring a roll of drafting paper. I was asked to have it pre-cut, which turned out to be an issue once we got all of the donated frames in hand. In the end we had to make due with paper that was the wrong dimensions, scratched plexi-glass and inconsistent frames.
In the past I would have been concerned that the display would raw attention away from the work while simultaneously forcing the conversation to include the messiness as a context for the work. However, the effect was far more inspiring. Cuba is abound with wonderful artists. Beyond they there is a national love and respect for art and intellect. Hermes Entenza is a great artist an very well regarded internationally. In the U.S he would certainly show as he does in Berlin, with a cleaner exhibition. Though in Cuba the DIY mentality serves to allow a flourishing creative community as well as to drop any pretense regarding the site making a work art. It is art because of the content, concept an feeling behind the creation. With so little access an awe inspiring art wold has come to fruition that touches the lives of the Cuban people.
I believe their is a lot to be learned by the playfully relaxed nature of the Cuban art world. I for one am a better artist for having worked within it.