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Identity, the imaginary of Yunior Hurtado

Daniel G. Alfonso


Every time I start the writing of a text about painting, in which I reflect and analyze the trajectory of the creator, I am proud to say (in this case, to write) that the painting is still alive and is advancing by leaps and bounds. For Cuban art is a phenomenon that has no limits and every day that passes, the demonstration continues to gain supporters. Behind each canvas, oil, acrylic, stain and gesture hides a great history and very personal story; the canvas comes to function, then, as a container of ideas and experiences.

In this case reference will be made to the creator Yunior Hurtado (1977) and his creative work, a process that has evolved in such a way that we can affirm that he already has a style and identity of his own in the panorama of the visual arts. Its production, marked by plurality, speaks to us of a rupture with cultural borders that allows and emphasizes universality; that is to say, it presents a work with international nuances and of essentially emotional content and linked to its concerns.

His speech builds points of encounter with different generations of artists, points that work to start a modus operandi that Yunior aims to turn into unique and unmistakable in an artistic environment tainted with parody, pastiche and recycling. Understanding all its production is to understand and go into the generation to which it belongs, a batch that focuses more on its creation process and on the message they wish to convey. Each of his paintings is an attempt to witness a (self)critical point of view of our current identity.

Like him, there are others who, advocate or prefer to play with the figurative, the free stroke linked to pop language, expressionism, the aesthetics of bad painting, combine techniques and manifest their ideals and personal imaginations. Thus we find works that portray and represent the identity, an identity that belongs to him and that at the same time belongs to everyone. Each scene that we appreciate in the composition (we speak mainly of portraits) comes to us from the everyday universe and is taken as it is its own vision. You can even establish a struggle between popular culture vs. the elitist culture.

With a contemplative, analytical and reflective attitude, Hurtado has assumed and is very clear about his role as an artist (or rather, a painter) in the context of contemporary artistic practices. He knows what he wants and what he is looking for. His energy, taken to each of his canvases, contains the strength that is sought in the painting of the 21st century; now, he is more committed to playing with the History of Art and some of the elements that have accompanied it. Everything seduces him, from the very mystery involved in making a work to the overwhelming feeling of ending the canvas.

There are also aspects in his works that are part of the imaginary of the Cuban panorama, for example, the pose shown by each one of his portraits of the joy and optimism with which one lives daily in Cuba, the appearance of tobacco and the fragments of the streets of Havana that can be seen in the lenses of the people represented. Each of these elements makes the viewer quickly refer to scenes of everyday life on the island.

Something that we must mention is the theme addressed by Yunior Hurtado: the portrait, a modality that throughout the History of Art has been characterized as a genre used with a very specific function, representing and consecrating the great and main personalities of a certain society. However, on this occasion, their models are extracted from different media: newspapers, magazines or photographs of people nearby. His results demonstrate the skill he has with the material used and the skill in handling the line, a method that indicates a very particular gestural language that allows him to create figurative images with a great emotional, aesthetic and excellent virtuosity in the brush handling, spatula, colors, etc.

In his works, his actors, real and imaginary, talk about beauty, sacrifice, the passage of time; a whole life can be read through their faces, which express most of the time their joys and sorrows, their triumphs and their fears. Yunior is well delivered with his work, documents through a visual anthropology each step and the course of life from the expressiveness of the faces that daily plasma on the canvas. Every detail counts, the grimaces, their traces, lights and shadows, scars; codes and legends that were built around their representations.

To make an analysis of its production is to enter a universe in which the perfection of its painting confers to each realization a very special force. He is an excellent observer of the individual, an artist who appreciates a different reality. In its atmospheres the meaning of the work is always open, there is not a single reading in them because the viewer is the one who has the last word.

In each painting the figures are inserted in an unknown setting, the background is neutral because the artist is not interested in contextualizing the space in which the person portrayed is inserted. His interest lies in emphasizing the represented image, this is the center of attention of his canvases. Each work, moreover, belongs to its time; they are stories that operate as events that place the recipient before a situation that makes us witnesses of a different and unique imaginary in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the plastic universe, Yunior Hurtado invites us to reflect on past or current events or events, all with an essential objective, that his painting has relevance for the viewer and for the society that surrounds him. For that reason, he likes the representation of types and customs -as Landaluce did at the time- but taken to his time, to the 21st century.

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