Agustín Bejarano is one the indispensable names of Cuban contemporary art. His presence in our creative panorama, which has been steady since the last decade of the last century, has made possible the renewal of drawing and engraving. At the same time, the conceptual and artistic universe he inaugurates with his work, favors fresh looks towards ancient issues concerning identity and origins, sovereignty and right, self-identity and certainty. It is the body of the culture that supports us, the shroud that ties with the edge of its lines. It is our blood what has been summoned in so many sieges.
Each society has its myths. Parting from them, they explain unlikeliness, or even better, what escapes from the presence of the logos. The myth and the logos are symbolic constructions, we must remember. But before realizing this, man uses them, ritualizes them, and idolizes them. Thus culture is affirmed in the collective manipulation that frustrates the definitive affirmation. Then it engenders a strong certainty about the order imposed to things in the world to cover its most remote principles. Thus the vulnerable and weak human being is tempted by such a severity.
That is how those narrations emerge –the myth and the logos–, supposedly true images that hide inside their structures, as origin, their duplicity. Those are the same narrations that have come to us unharmed, glorious, and wasted in the body of culture. Symbolic buildings are those that Bejarano dissects, trying to uncover their supposed artificiality.
He uses in his poetry an expressionist syntax that fluctuates between grotesque and delicacy. He intones high notes of lyricism and we will not find a procedure similar to any other. From the use of the line, the matter, the format –elemental values of artistic creation–, the renovation is resolved. He develops engraving with traditional techniques, and at the same time he shapes its heterodoxy –he has even tried it over plastic surfaces–; also drawing, mostly inserted in ferocious, uneven, deafening territories –as if he wanted to extend its practice and its matter dimensions to other levels of presentation–; and he rhapsodizes over painting, where he fluctuates among small, big and even monumental sizes. His strategy seems to be the colonization at the levels of art and discourse, of past, history, and memory, to end up not in the recycling of symbols, but in a sort of coup d’état to the order established by culture’s devices through the displacement of some contents of absolute truth in the great and noble narrations.
And yet, there are no firm rules when it comes to Bejarano. The only invariable concerning him is the obsessive worship to the uncertainty he professes himself. He knows we are sensible to those narrations whose development we can control, no matter how tiresome or known, logical or politically correct they are. He knows we fear the oppressive sensation of wildness and he challenges us. Flirtatious girls, rituals, human exegeses, Dionysian olive-groves, sacrifices, dreams, systems, everything is ductile matter and is offered as indigestible dish on a cramped table. We are left, at least, the choice of doubting before serving ourselves and devouring such appetizing delicacies. By providing us such artificial images, Bejarano seems to want to play to be God.
Now well, we will not only find him striving with the great tales of civilization, but also in the immediacies of the soul and its anguishes. In order to satisfy such impulse, he surrenders to introspection, so he reappears in a self-referential lexicon. Before it, his word becomes infected with nostalgia and tenderness, desperation, impotence, rapture, everything strongly restrained. Emotions grasp at the pictorial surface and the materials, formal indices of his performance.
With such an intimacy he conceived that epic series about The Rites of Silence, which has not finished yet. With such intensity he engendered that tiny and anonymous being, his own alter ego, and also other’s, how extinguishes in sorrow under the shade of a winged hat. That helpless and wretched being that only projects his shadow over the world, has the signs of contagious diseases. His identity has been compromised, as well as his lineage of threatened, defeated and suffocated hero. The silence is anticipated in the eloquence of the gloomy environment that always shelters him. These images are as heartbreaking as necessary.
Agustín Bejarano’s lyrical-pathetic vision definitively corrodes the surface of things, unveiling in them a peremptory desolation. That is the magnificence of his version of human history.