Alexandre Arrechea is a Cuban artist with a successful international career. Among his latest projects, the collection of public sculptures, placed in Park Avenue, New York City, has been highly advertised.
El mapa del silencio is a solo exhibit he presented in the previous Biennial as a guest from the National Museum of Fine Arts. With this project, he is not only returning to exhibits in a big way in his native island, but he is also doing it with the spirit of taking part, with new works of art, in a debate of prime importance to the current Cuban reality.
Although the title of the exhibit might be metaphorical and ambiguous, the sharpest members of the audience will not miss one important detail. The fact that the subtle conceptual thread that links works of art with a speech, redundant in a sensitive issue that affects both present and future of Cubans, is the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
In this exhibit, each work of art connects its speech to the nearest. As a result, there are dynamics of changing of meaning or conceptual complementarity. In achieving such museographic coherence, we recognize without doubt the outstanding work carried out by Corina Matamoros, the one responsible for the curatorship of the project. Therefore, it is an exposition that intellectually challenges the members of an audience. It is necessary to pay attention to the joint projection of meanings that all the parts of the work of art produce.
The works of art are beautiful and pregnant, and some are on a monumental scale. Consequently, they can be enjoyed from the physical and purely aesthetic point of view. Nevertheless, the demanding members of the audience will always try to come even further from that threshold. There are clear signs, such as the blocks of building located in districts like Alamar. This is used by the artist as an inspiration to create a visual metaphor that makes reference to the construction of a city with a higher standard: the future that raises high over the present.
Moreover, long tripods, designed by Arrechea’s creativity as giant pairs of compass suggest rather than the ability of support, the intention of marking a territory. A territory subtly refracts on the glass sheet that lies underneath. Concentric circles extend from the enormous 25-meter long mural directly made on the wall of the gallery.
According to the title, it is an ingenious morphology that represents the Atlantic Ocean. Two hands rise from the deep ocean to hold a bridge, a possible bond; a communication that lies over the abyss of those series of concentric and oscillating bends.
On the left side of the exhibit hall, a sui generis face of Havana City is displayed on a large-scale tapestry. The title, that seems indescribable, gives us the key to understand the origin of the geometric forms Arrechea uses to structure that sort of old mask: fragments of corners of buildings at the city. An integrated whole that was built using fragments. An unusual urban landscape whose abstraction shapes a cultural archetype like the one formed with the mask.
The tapestry represents an overelaborated visual metaphor of the traces of the present, and the expectations and challenges of the future. It is a map of things that can be achieved, rather than just the mere silence.
–Dr. Hamlet Fernández