It suffices a first impression to identify oneself with Reynerio Tamayo’s world, mainly because these images come from a pictorial system of known visualization in the history of art. This painting participates in that appropriator and reconstructed spirit of a section of the present Cuban art, only that in the case of this author those modulations and dialogues are perfectly integrated to an incorporating esthetics which dissolves all influences, tracings and styles in order to found its own perspective, where it is already not visible any school mark or tradition but just the artist’s personality. In that type of art live together, without bloodshed, the classical European painting –Spanish in particular– the vanguard, pop, comic, Japanese engraving and even delicious tradition of cigar brand-ring, in a symbiotically game where epochs are nullified, styles and even original semantics, so as to offer us, in fact, an imagination feast and a very precise interpretation of the Cuban world and contemporary life.
Eden is Hidden in Paradise identifies two groups of themes, which have been a constant in Tamayo’s works and are now becoming amplified in a sort of clamor. The artist visualizes today’s world chaos and associates it with the market’s scandalous success, with that new religion that could be named as the monotheism of money. That it is so clearly visible in one of his paintings that it appears as a parody of Stanely Kubrick’s film 2001: Space Odissey, which in its day attained a perfect synthesis of human evolution in one master pictorial map, depicting that primate that, evolved into a merchant, leaves astral knowledge and all the values of culture and launches himself on the seizure of dollars. Something like that happens, though less evidently, with Duchamp’s Arc, with that background heaven with a red color that remind us the passing of the hurricane, and which contains, inside a urinary, one of those mutant species which are going to inhabit a new universe, saved by the painter’s burlesque spirit. Destruction is so clear that on the upper part there is a chimp that already thinks like a man while smoking a cigar. The picture is a warning, within a delicate artistic weaving, of where the chaos might lead on the ecological, social and human order.
Cuban reality also participates in this condition, but just in a somewhat more ludicrous spirit. One of the paintings that better expresses this is Black on Black, the bici-taxi cyclist already turned into a machine, carrying the weight of an absurd and the emptiness of a rectangle that he does no even understand, everything under the analogy of Malevich’s famous painting Black on White. The precision and austerity of the supreme drawing contrasts with the irony of the picture, which can also be cut along a dotted line. In this so bold a manner, like in a comic, Tamayo strongly faces on the Havana dyke two forces: the colonial power and the historical past, and that multitude of people that fight among each other to accomplish the most nationalistic quality of the Cuban cuisine, which indeed is not the Plátano Maduro Frito (Fried Ripe Banana), but the frying pan held by the handle. Sexuality and the sight of a gender –masculine gender in this case– also fight against disorder and greed of those glamorous ‘majas’ (young beautiful Spanish girls) in Goodbye to Arms and Naked with an Escort. And also in that huge joke of The machine from the Orient Tamayo achieves the subversion of symbols so dramatically and universal as Goya’s paintings and refined Japanese exotics.
Tamayo can frolic with those emblems because he is, in the first place, an extraordinary painter and draftsman. This exposition once again places him on the zenith of his quality, and shows that with naturalness, joke and humor, the world can be also dramatized.