Stories (EN)

Fernando Cruz

The Cynical Fascination of the Tropics

By Helga Montalván

…the idea as an ephemeral character, focusing on the durability of the footprint.
To show what emerges as a result of an event, a disturbance, a restlessness.  

The work of Fernando Cruz is the result of a restlessness that the artist is unable to solve between two fundamental assumptions that are still debates: durability vs. transience. Assumptions that, like others, operate from the contradiction in order to grant subjectivity to a kind of process from which contemporary art feeds. In the work of this artist, this assumption becomes a sign of the living experience and an aesthetic contradiction. 

Fernando Cruz (Matanzas, 1989), is a graduate of Visual Arts and Scenic Design. His professional life develops between the world of visual arts (painting, sculpture, video, and interactive and installation works) and the world of films and theater scenery. This is why these works we refer to in the series El sabor del Trópico (The Taste of the Tropics) and other watercolors on napkins are the result of an empirical relief, the consequence of a technical exercise that already has years of experience in different media, spaces and ends: and he then achieves a reflection that implies an inward-feeling effect, an introspection in short, a kind of consideration about his life and art. 

It can be considered a superficial and frivolous work by those who lack reference to the other explicit reflections in the artist’s previous works and projects. The spectator can escape from the intention that establishes continuity in all his artistic production: the conflictive processes of an identity that sometimes seems almost inconvenient to him. In recent years the artist has been wandering from material to ephemeral through his aesthetic discourse, as if questioning the validity of the values inherited from art and culture. This exercise allows him to experience the multiple edges from which the question of identity can be posed. Who we are and who we have been throughout history and our insular condition is one of the conceptual axes to which the artistic thought that concerns us here has been directed. 

Fernando Cruz has gone from solid to “vanishing into thin air”, sometimes for material reasons, other times by choice. The issue of insularity was already being repeated before El sabor del Trópico in his artistic productions as a déjà vu of the islands theory  that Benítez Rojo, Lezama and Virgilio worked on at the time. He associated the way in which he understood the island’s dynamics and the convincing arguments as to why a way of being and living (Benítez Rojo’s vision of “in a certain way”) did not go into crisis, with a kind of carefree and undulating rhythm, which shaped an aesthetics for the carpe diem philosophy of the Cuban identity discourse. These concepts find an echo in the works that update the theme in unprejudiced and veiled aggressive way, as happened with the work Pool or Blue and White, exhibited in the Ríos Intermitentes (Intermittent Rivers) project at the 13th Havana Biennial in Matanzas, and which consisted of a pool with a rectangular structure at floor level that contained water and sand cleanly delimited by a perfect line, which emphasized the human character, the tax requirement, and the in-natural, and obviously rational, regulatory limit of the construction of our in-out relationship. 

Following the previous reflection of this installation project and others developed by the artist, El sabor del Trópico fascinates in its apparent triviality. Here the artist delights in the instant of the fortuitous trace, and makes it seem more than a trace, a story of an instant or an experience, a “flash”. He then shapes these circumstantial, lightweight narratives that stand out for their surface-on-surface condition, as the artist is enchanted by the texture and design patterns of the industrial napkins that confirm his idea: Pineapple, Pineapple Golden Edition, Paraíso Tropical… and let these patterns that already define us as a juicy Caribbean mixture play with the printed trace and build gardens that dialogue with Monet’s Water Lilies and with art history; invigorate the semantic, conceptual and meaning games with impressionism, with today’s visual culture, with the selfies, the exhibitionism of social networks and the art market… And more here and now, with a Cuban culture that is no longer what it was or what we heard, but that craves a fermented juice of opinions, of futile poses, and games of recognition that are associated with so many hobbies that do not end up separating the real and lasting from what is futile and transitory. And this emotion that the artist allows us to see behind the scenes of El sabor del Trópico, reflexively cynical, ends up being a restlessness, a nuisance…

Fernando Cruz
Fernando Cruz
Fernando Cruz
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