Magazine 28 (EN), Stories (EN)

Juan J. Blanco Lozano

Inside and Outside the Wall

By Dianett Quintana Solis

Reduced anthropomorphic forms, wide landscapes, contained desires: the urban environment and its relationship with the characters constitute a representational premise of Juan José Blanco Lozano. This artist is in solidarity with his social environment; in his pieces there is room for the anonymous protagonists who are part of the vortex of everyday life. 

On this occasion, his work is a spokesman for the historical experiences of his time. Supported by the plastic arts as a means of expression, reveals circumstances of our island environment through canvases, in some cases monumental, that point to themes such as material limitations, displacements, the struggle for survival and destiny; allegorical details such as the sea and the emblematic Malecón of Havana, denote precisely this insertion into Cuban territory and a debt to its identity.

Migrations, as an inherent axiom in the work, are shown in El Milagro (The Miracle). This example recreates the communicative bridge between two spaces, one of which is relative to the Malecón and although the other end is lost on the horizon, it is a discourse recognizable by all Cubans, where an attempt at reconciliation with the “other shore” is perceived. However, the treatment of the landscape with light blue dreams gives a certain pallor and scepticism to the conciliatory approach.

Lozano’s anthropological will is expressed through the introduction of the figures in their normal environment, representing the drama of daily life and the characters’ acceptance of it. Mar Interior (Interior Sea) bears witness to this dynamics; the characters imbued with the limits imposed by a watery frying pan, with water inside, the fisherman who waits, and the absence of an existence beyond the visual world create a feeling of subsistence. The characters border this symbolic wall with exalted calmness, seeking in the stillness of that inner sea, to satiate their conflicts and their chimeras.

These figures, wrapped up in the crowds lose their individual essence, since as separate beings they are insignificant in the collective framework. In many cases these anonymous characters are represented with umbrellas, symbols that show the need for protection from the weather, transmitting the lack of general protection, either in real or metaphorical sense. Another interesting sign is the central object of the Via Crucis. This title, allegorical to the Catholic religion, does not precisely respond to the artist’s interest to represent a religious theme, but alludes to the weight of the symbolic cross that humans must carry to achieve their longed-for desires. The unity of the subjects carrying the same cross suggests a sense of society and common goals.

The canvases seem to freeze in time, they are timeless planes that exceed a specific event and personal conflict. The implausibility produced by the tiny characters in the panorama recreates a surrealist universe where the environment exceeds the figures’ will. The treatment of illusory light and chiaroscuro enhances the idealistic nuance of these compositions.

The artist has used an extensive chromatic range in his production; the richness of tones has complemented the atmospheres of some pieces although recently he has relied on a more reduced palette, dispensing with the excess of shades to focus even more on the strength of his discourse. He places special emphasis on the blue pigments, alluding to the pelagic; its use pays tribute to the atmosphere of the island space that, which together with the grayish shade of the walls create the vision of a cold morning on the Havana Malecón.

Without a boastful decoration and with minimum (almost  “minimal”)resources, the artistic work contained in these pieces by Juan José Blanco Lozano is a kind of storytelling and events, with relevant gloating in the insular condition of the landscape. The artist reflects with his glance the longing subjects that surround him, in constant interaction with the limits of the poetic Malecón and a longing to emerge from behind the wall.

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