Agustín BejaranoUntitled, from the series Los ritos del silencio, 2007
Mixed media on canvas, 80 x 60 cm.
[…] I drew attention to another one of the sub-series inserted in the general work of Los ritos del silencio: the confinement of the tiny man –whom we already know is very Cuban and such as possible, a follower of José Martí and Bejarano– to a rock many times lost in the ocean. These works promote a second reading –the tiny man-horse-rock triad is the perfect allegory of the Island, but prior to it, or on top of it, the man himself is treated like an island, like a reservoir exposed and abandoned to his luck, in one and the other connotation one discovers a profound sadness, a calm sadness that speaks through the reverie of the contemporary individual. It is a sadness that tells -as nothing else does- everything that has happened to us in recent years, when even the relief of screams has faded away. In these works there subsist the slight and violent will of observing the behavior of the insular condition. All these pieces are traversed by a temporary and spatial obsession (be it for expansion or contraction) that remains of the poet José Martí: Country of mine, you cannot define. There is not a didactic appetite for the establishment of new topographies, but indeed there is the beating urgent by the tragedy of detachment. The works transmit the strange sensation suffered by the insular man: the anxiety that comes from being unable of taking a car or a train and escaping to the continent, to the profoundness and remoteness of that other, some geography. The clinging of the insular man to the physical borders of space, to the cathedral stone and to the street names represents the desperate gesture of one who is conscious of being in the midst of the sea, surrounded by water, and of the distance there is to the throat. That dilemma between opening and introspection, infinity and cultural punctuality is luminously captured in Bejarano’s present work.
All that philosophy of the Island is aesthetical so convincing because it’s not deprived of a morphologic repertoire to sustain and express it in a congruent manner. Bejarano also uses a philosophy of the light and color of the Island. Contrary to the ostentatious “tropical” and Caribbean merriment, he considers Cuba and island without color where the stubbornness and incision of the light bathes and kills everything. Except in his initial graphic murals in which the pop intention extended the reds and oranges, Bejarano has always been an artist of maximum soberness with regard to color. Even in those initial works the material and textural thickness added such expressiveness to the color that distorted it for the best and added a rare austerity to it. Today when the conceptual profile of the poetics requires it to a much greater extent, the color control is at ease in a key of alkaline substances that correctly express the retiring nature but also as well that nobility of what is natural that protects man from the frivolous artifice and deceiving festivities. Which goes to say that both the ultimate depths of the works and the tangible appearances of Bejarano’s new cosmos reveal one of the best testimonies about how much happened to us in these years, understanding the man of the Island as subject of the pieces, but at the same time the man of the contemporary world according to another criterion of the universe, reconfigured with respect to madness, vandalism and terror, everything has to be said. The planet, which yesterday was pure cosmic and erotic frolic to the artist, today is island itself, all of itself […]. 1
1. Rufo Caballero, “Interpreting Bejarano, The Iconography of his Poetics, From a Three-Sided System: the Cosmos, the Island and Man,” in Agustín Bejarano, Obras 1987 – 2000 (Havana: Artecubano Ediciones, 2006), 153-154.