It’s as having lead in the blood stream, as if something toxic was running through the veins. The skin bristles, you feel the flow of fluids through your body, then realize they are there, they have always been there, but now you perceive them in their stormy torrent. When one indulges in the pleasures of Eros, the senses become more acute, everything boils. How to pass so many different and personal sensations on to fabric? Only a teacher, only a genius… Servando Cabrera Moreno has been able to express as anyone the carnal delusions, the violence of the dome, the post-orgasmic repose. His drawings and paintings of erotic theme are, as I see it, his most captivating, audacious and universal creations.
Like other greats in the history of art, he was not understood by conservative fools, by limited-minded leaders, or by low-light officials. But his work could not be overshadowed by adverse social circumstances. It is precisely during the Gray Quinquennium, that his erotic series reaches its peak, expanding light into so much darkness, advocating tolerance within so much censorship. He was the victim of obsolete taboos and ideological and “moral” prejudices; the aberration went so far as to deny him from teaching,1 and even the exhibition spaces turned their backs on him.2 Nothing stopped him. Only an artist sure of himself and his art could respond to derision by celebrating the intimate passions of man, his propensity to carnal delights. He did not give in to marginality, he did not deny his character, his sexual inclination, much less his work.
There is no place in Servando’s creations for obscenity, there is no perversion in his canvases. His works may be obvious, shamelessly show the virile member, in action or at rest; but his art is never rude. In other pieces, maybe more provocative, he suggests only with fragments of bodies. How daring to leave those naked poses and torsos to the free interpretation of the spectator!
In his erotic cycle, the artist juxtaposes human fragments, intertwines them; sometimes there’s no knowing when one body ends and the other begins. Sometimes he oversizes or disfigures the anatomy in terms of expressiveness and composition. The human figures in Servando are appetizing and awaken lasciviousness. They represent corpulent men, of firm legs and buttocks, of smooth skins, that seduce in their voluptuousness. The models drawn are proud of themselves, and openly enjoy their nakedness with freedom.
Servando gives strength and movement to his bodies. He’s a virtuoso of drawing and, of the work with transparencies. Because of his mastery of color, we can find pieces made from the shades of a single pigment; while there are others in which cold and warm ranges contrast skillfully. Vigorous lines, free brushstrokes and a palette that he knew how to use at his whim allowed him an exceptional approach to physiognomy and human sensuality from a perspective that draws on expressionism.
The creative work of Servando is characterized by his deep human content. From his very personal style, he addresses the carnal pleasures with deep lyricism. In him the eros can be approached from delicacy, ecstasy or suffering. In some pieces sensuality contains a strong dramatic charge. Servando is aware that eroticism is not alien to self-absorption or loneliness. His canvases attest to that. The epicurean materializations of the human being can be delicate, but also extremely violent, their corporal amassures make it evident. The poetry of the titles of his works stands out, captivating without doubt; they graze to the anecdotal, I would even dare to say, with the self-referential.
Servando Cabrera Moreno is not only one of the pioneers of erotic and homo-erotic art in Cuba, but also one of its most prized exponents. On his legacy rests one of the most consolidated and interesting ideo-aesthetic lines of our art.
1. Servando was separated in 1965 from the National School of Plastic Arts, where he had been teaching since 1962. In addition, the students of the educational center were forbidden to visit their home-workshop.
2. In 1971 the retrospective exhibition of his work that was planned in the National Museum of Fine Arts was suspended.