Agustín BejaranoLos ritos del silencio CCXXI, 2005
Acrylic and kaolin on canvas, 200 cm. diameter
The Spells of Doubt
They tell of a man, a common man, wearing typical Caribbean clothes –loose suit and winged hat–, who dived into the interstices of canvas and acrylic never to return. They also say that man traveled through the shadows; that he staggered among sombre, debris and always landed on another space; they say that not because of being different he left behind the weight of desolation and helplessness. Agustín Bejarano created that man and he made him in his image and after his likeness, shouldering all the risks that a shared identity implies. That individual is his alter ego, as he is also for all the Cuban people who suffer the limits of insularity, those who resist “the unbearable sensation of water all around,”1 and yet do not give up conquering their dream.
Among all the characters created by Bejarano, this time the artist chose to design a climber of utopias, a stubborn flying man who decided to shoulder the risks of a tightrope walker and jump to the void. He stands on the wing of a diving aircraft; he does not succeed in establishing the order, but he does not fall. He stands on tiptoe, hostile and strong, and he seems to levitate in a dying and fading world. This is a cyclic universe, it reappears all over, and it always constricts the individuals to those states in their social conditions, therefore the author prefers round-shaped mounts, which become metaphors of the circular ruins he glimpses. For the delight on the scene, the pictorial matter is exposed, taken from a spatula to the canvas and dried up there to create craters and wrinkles, wasted and dusty spaces. Pigments are sober, lacking color and vitality, but it is right there where the beauty of the painting lies: a great circle in which black, white and greyish tones mix and strive, and become contraries and complementary.
Despite the aridity and anguish described in this Rite of Silence, its world is not completely faded; it is not the prediction of death, for there is something hopeful and titanic in it. In the constant search for balance lays life; human existence rests on the discontinuous and daring rhythm of the spirit that seeks for happiness in the kingdom of this world. There lies the true power of this tale that Bejarano has created for man, that one that, just like him, still inhabits among the spells of doubt. Part of the 2006 exhibition that the artist presented at the National Museum of Fine Arts, this artwork is considered one of the most important within this creator’s artistic path, and only now could be extracted directly from his personal reservoir, from his most precious treasure.
1. Virgilio Piñera, La isla en peso (Havana: Ediciones Huracán, 1995).