Agustín BejaranoUntitled, from the series Los ritos del silencio, 2010
Mixed media on canvas, 151.5 x 201 cm.
Agustín Bejarano: Memento Mori
Si tú pudieras formar de nuevo aquellas combinaciones,
devolviéndome el país sin el agua, me la bebería toda para escupir al cielo.
La isla en peso, Virgilio Piñera1
“The memory of a natural poetry, un-coded, comes to my lips: tree of a poet, tree of love, tree of the brain,” thus wrote Virgilio Piñera in his poem La isla en peso of 1943. A meander, all images, permeated with soft and pure light, always light, or rather, its contrasts. Back then he was constructing a kind of general somnolence in his poem, capable of leading to the most symbolic of deaths: the alienation of the human being. That distance of man with his environment –through questions such as: What am I in the middle of this or what space is left for me on the island? What is or could be my own weight in it (to the infinite of combinations)?– was exposed as an anxiety of man’s knowledge about himself, others and the world.
Piñera, like Agustín Bejarano, does not answer these questions, which makes them accomplices of silence, in the midst of a rhetoric that obviates the physical space of nature and geography even when alluded to. Perhaps this is why the annulment of the landscape by means of a funereal countenance is the most convenient strategy. Ritos del silencio (Rites of silence) could be erected as a visual extension of such poetic premises, in which “the damn circumstance of water everywhere” dialogues with a geographical fatality that incorporates other fatalities of historical and social nature –but above all of existential nature– in which the individual seeks to evade the guilds for the sake of self-preservation.
Bejarano is always a castaway in his canvasses. Insularity, even when water does not encircle his representations, emerges from spaces that exist per se, as if his inner world, that of a convoluted nostalgia, were concentrated at the top of the hill in which a tree inhabits. Then nothing else can exist, because knowledge, even about ourselves, is limited (unconsciously) in a lugubrious sea of sentimental lacerations. That is why it is better to look from a distance: the contours are blurred, so the faces do not emerge, you can barely distinguish a silhouette, a trace and you may even pass unnoticed in the grief of a foggy afternoon.
In the middle of everything that sweeps the tide of feelings, the romanticism of Agustín Bejarano maintains the course towards an Ithaca called melancholy, full of universes painted during a lonely journey. A visual language meant not only to give another dimension to the subject of landscape painting in the history of Cuban art, but also to poetize about the somatic impact of the Island in shaping its own landscape.
–Modesto D. Serpa
1. If you could form those combinations again, returning the country to me without the water, I would drink it all to spit at the sky. The Island in Weight, Virgilio Piñera.