Transforming real into sublime
A new exhibition of Cuban painter Yaumil Hernández Gil (Guanabacoa, Cuba, 1972) is always an opportunity to breathe a blow in of unreality, to learn to fly in machines of fantastic aesthetic forms or to know unrealistic machinery producing articles of exception.
The plastic path of Hernández Gil begins in the House of Culture in his native Guanabacoa, where he becomes familiar at an early age in the evenings with papier-mâché techniques and pictorial composition.
Then he is admitted in the National Academy of Fine Arts, in San Alejandro, 1997 generation. Some teachers were important to him, like Rocío García, who drove toward spontaneity, and José Miguel turned his attention to the cleanliness of color, the academic mastery of technique and the craft, the discipline that’s equivalent to the polish in sculpture. After a brief stint teaching, he retired to the studio with the firm intention to boost his own plastic career in a professional way.
In the universal art he admires Salvador Dalí by the way in which he gives expression to the "well told lies"; he also admires René Magritte and Andy Warhol. Among Cubans he follows an individual path but aesthetically and formally related to others in the past and nowadays (Vicente Hernández, 1971, and Ulises Bretaña, 1957) but isolated by his originality. He likes the aesthetics of Tomás Sánchez, Pedro Pablo Oliva and Arturo Montoto, from whom he learns to open his mind to the infinite possibilities in the selection of topics and how to develop them.
The basis of his pictorial proposal is a combination of painting oil and acrylic techniques emphasizing transparency. In order to make the figure "came out" from the bottom, he says: "It needs to be worked, it needs an aggression on it" and he recognizes that he tends to symmetry.
This collection, with the right title Mutatis-Mutandis, a Latin expression that refers to change what should be changed, also has the sense of compelling the reader to pay attention to the differences between the current argument and one of the past, although analogous concepts, closely related to the paintings in this exhibition.
Mutatis-Mutandis was preceded by two exhibitions as articulated antecedents in the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, UNEAC, in La Havana, Cuba, under the name of El Truco y la Forma (The Trick and the Form) and Maquinaciones (Machinations), at Lombillo Palace in Old Havana. The latter emphasized the relationship between man and machine.
The theme of his current work is the relationship between individual and society, the cold and silent battle between those who struggle for a total independence, both human and ideological, against manipulation of the environment around him. The artist takes us through the wide-format pictures to a "factory" where will be assemble obedient men clones. Since this kind of man does not exist, we need to make it, and so comes the series Disciplina (Discipline).
Unable to escape from the reality that Cuba has experienced over the past fifty-two years, his country and where he lives so far. Several painful aspects show through in pictures such as Informe (Report), which refers to mandatory reporting on "Lives of Others", with more negative and false than true, binding within the intelligence in all dictatorships in the world.
This series includes Prótesis (Prosthesis); an animal half alive and half mechanical refers to the ban on slaughter of cattle that in Cuba is severely punished. Yaumil has found a solution: half of the animal will be marketed for human consumption, and it is replaced by a prosthesis integrated with recycled metal materials that allow the animal to roam and the owner to escape from punishment.
It continues with the painting Números Rojos (Red numbers), a section of this "factory" of fiction. This department records the level of relation CPU-force-levels of reverence or submission.
The series Actualizaciones (Updating) has copies left as tattoos on the soul of the beholder: Resonancia (Resonance, from The Trick and the Form ) a device that separates different people because we all have to be equal, Apaciguador (Troubleshooter), a machine that calms down spontaneously, "revolutionary", between 5 to 7 schedules.
This model became useless with the creation of the Paladar (Palate) with electrical connections that corrects errors and handles flavors. With it, a dish of nails may have chocolate flavor, a process that can easily swallow the lie. The series culminates with the triptych of the Índices (Forefingers) of the owner of the word and forum.
The combination of a meticulous reproduction of pieces of rusty old metal, which seem to come from junkyards, but that “have a much richer aesthetic than microchips as Yaumil explains to us", and the final result when all was integrated into devices that allow fly individually (Error de Redundancia Cíclica, Cyclic Redundancy Error) or they can "produce" spare human arms in a perfectly balanced work (Optimizando Temperatura de Cocción, Optimizing Cooking Temperatures).
Among the diverse trends in current plastic Cuban contemporary art, ranging from traditional landscapes to abstract art and performance, Yaumil highlights and has already unforgettable pictures in his short career. He chose a very personal surrealism overflowing limits; he chose to dream, to dream with open eyes.