Aluan ArgüellesNo. 08/7, from the series Atlas, 2016
Oil and invisible ink on canvas, 75 x 75 cm.
Allegory to Despair
Young Cuban artist Aluan Argüelles’s oeuvre is divided among painting, conceptual art and new media. He leaves his personal hallmark in every art form, an identity that is still in the making but heralds already success and honors. As a painter, Aluan prefers to refer to reality through visual metaphors, he prefers, to be more categorical, to reveal Cuban people’s everyday life, their daily ups and downs and conflicts. Nevertheless, his artworks go beyond the perimeter of localism to become an allegory of ecumenical pretentions, a pretext to reflect on issues of greater universality. Thus, the condition of insularity and the topic of the trip, understood in its contradiction of meeting/farewell and beginning/ending, become the main themes in this novel artist’s work. The damn circumstance of water all around is an obligatory allusion, a required referent when you decide to judge with critical eye Aluan Argüelles’s artistic production.
Nevertheless, his painting not only hides the mastery of the trade and the reflection inherent in the act of creation; his artworks contain hidden details, visual barriers that can only be surmounted by an informed spectator or by the ones who are distrustful of all of what they see, those who carry with them the syndrome of suspicion. Atlas is perhaps one of his most successful series; it might be even considered radiography of this young artist’s creative process. Aluan displays in it, along with the pictorial exercise, his usual games of linguistic tradition, which can only be noticed once the canvas is illuminated by ultraviolet light.
A calmed, sober sea, covered by waves that flood the surface and then blend grayish tones is not all that the artwork hides. When the painting is illuminated, a list of names emerges to undo the automation of the look and reveal the story of those Cuban people who perished at the sea, trying desperately to break the limits imposed by the Island, not only the geographic limits, but also barriers that become political, social and economic conflicts. Aluan Argüelles provides evidence of death; he even represents it through his dark, funereal, monotonous seas, which are simply an allegory to despair.
At the same time, the series constitutes a devoted homage, a sort of commemorative altar to unknown individuals transcended by the unyielding passing of history. Atlas also reveals faces, gestures and actions from the figurative resources.
Each title is a single narration that completes a tale intercepted by death, and each name is a footprint that shows the way others will follow. Those other people run the risk of dying in gray, dark, sinister waves and perhaps they will never be documented by Aluan Argüelles’s paintbrush. However, those who are registered here are a metonymical reference to the whole group, to all those ones forgotten by history.