Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho)Perdiendo el miedo, 2017
Mixed media on canvas, 145 x 210 cm.
Bola de Churre or Losing the Fear to Roll
Bola de churre (Dirt Ball) may seem an unusual and unflattering term to speak of a work of art. Yet, under the aspect of unpleasant filth can lie the non-intellectualized beauty of a poetic that has found in deterioration and recycling its identity marks. Perdiendo el miedo (Losing Fear), painting of the once beloved and once vilified Kcho, is one of those works capable of bringing together, with a seductive economy of resources, every side of the creative career of its author.
First, the eternal return of his island obsessions. Since 1994, when La Regata was presented as part of the 5th Havana Biennial, the trip and the exodus became the topic of excellence in Kcho’s artistic production. In this sense the raft is the icon by excellence, from which most of his drawings and installations derive. In Losing Fear, it is shown to us from the dispersion of its constituent parts: propellers, boats, oars, sails… all mixed in this gigantic and filthy avalanche, a simple structure that is perfected with each one of its revolutions. This accumulation and lack of concrete details heighten the human consequences of the geographical fatalism that implies “the damn circumstance of water everywhere.” Movement, destruction and fragmentation become metaphorical constructions that transmit the ungraspable nature of the trip as historical fatum of our Island.
Second, the visceral and mysterious nature of his colossal and battered figurations. There is a silent but overwhelming containment in them. The color is almost always dimmed, contracted, as veiled by a strange sadness. Kcho possesses that rare ability to express what he wants from the simplicity of both formal and conceptual structures. He prefers to braid his dramatic speculations on flat backgrounds, which only increase the symbolic violence of the representation. An operation that begins with the almost obsessive collection of objects returned by the sea –something that seems to recall his origins in Isla de la Juventud, a place where, as he himself has said, “all limits were liquid“–, an operation that leads to the most varied and artistic media. Thus, he provides these elements with an aura that was denied from them by the precariousness and/or domesticity of their primary condition. Still, they became the emblem of our nationality today.
And third, the casual and gestural expressionism that characterizes his visuality. In his work there coexists an exquisite drawing –close to academic taste–, next to areas where the brushstroke is very carefree, more in tune with the freedoms that dripping and action painting provide. It is a “careless neglect,” something that only those who mastered the technique are able to achieve.
–Lisset Alonso Compte