Octavio Irving: a fresh breath in Cuban engraving

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By: Ricardo Alberto Pérez

Although Octavio Irving, born in Santa Clara in 1978, seems to have chosen the engraving as the main expressive medium, the richness of its artistic thought goes far beyond what can grant this set of techniques; for that reason, in his case, the processes leading up to the execution of the pieces play an unusual role. it seems like it’s dealing with forms, as if this kind of game could lead to solving a puzzle over.

His art can be understood as a kind of filter or decanter agent, which tracks the sense; and the dimensions he need to project his works. He shows as well aware of the site in which it is, and with that lucidity, he is subjecting his works to very specific tensions linked to details that he uses to refer to larger structures such as cities, the country and the imaginary.

From object seems to care enough its historicity, its weight” or lightness”, when it is inserted into a particular story. That way he shall keep a test or a x-ray, from which the elections is made. These objects are usually connected with the social vision, and have a role in the recent life of the island.

The absence of color as a disturbing detail, atmospheres that firing memory, forking lines with a little suggestion, and resume the longing of a subjectivity that can be received with deep nourishing effect.The visual effect is pointing to a complex beauty that contains various hues, and it offering to the mind of the viewer abundant possibilities of enjoyment. At this point it seem to be fulfilled his own words:We still need zones of silence and contemplation, meditation and reflection.”

That is, the creation as calm and meditation, but with an activity that continues in the interior of beings and things. An antagonism that accelerate mutations, so the maze of evolution not stop surprise us in their sudden explosions. Just this breath that comes from the depth of events is perceived in many of his pieces.
The work of Irving seems to be catalyzed by the permanence of fixed ideas and obsessions; hence one of the most visible marks on his works is his constant return to conflicts and recycled and reassessed materials in the course of time. An artist with these characteristics, usually tends to pursuit the perfection; It does not like to leave any unfinished idea or let loose ends, he subjects each process to a particular rigor, in terms of content and form. .

Another mark that tends to make its pieces be singulars is its tendency to believe in the deconstruction. Thus he introduced into phenomena consciously structured by the Cuban and universal art; and dismantles some established meanings, to decongestant the symbolic of various representations very specific. This approach is highly appreciated by many viewers as it helps to unlock and clarify the flow of information that has been contaminated by the almost mimetic manipulation that has been exerted on it.


As for formal questions, above all, highlighted in his work a sharing between the abstract and the figurative; from there seems born and developed his poetic. Of that promiscuity between two ways of conceiving the visual activity several attitudes are derived at the time of assuming the completion of each piece. In this trance they get their own spirit and freedom to express themselves in every way. This mixture helps to give a feeling of antiquity playful, or aging, caused from the agile transit to memory; and obtaining at the end the effect of novelty.
The photograph as reference material appears to provide multiple possibilities. The urban is content by a radical minimalism that localized the intense expressionism emerging from a spontaneous activity that represents live one day after another. If suddenly we stand before these pictures that Octavio typically calls Landscaping, we begin to unravel what he moves to take many of its projects. These pictures shows clearly the subjectivity that has been built in art for long periods of time.
These landscapes not only show us poverty as an immediate reality; but as a very special opportunity to reinvent ourselves from the austere. Here abstraction breaks as the indelible imprint of a lived time, and can produce the incantation we know about the fabrics of Anselm Kiefer.
Be in front of a sketchbook of Octavio Irving can be very stimulating and helpful in understanding the cares of the rest of his work. At this stage it is appreciated more spontaneously and directly his contact with some aspects of reality. Charcoal represents a striking intensity, represents the impulses that suddenly transforms the rhetorical ideas that one usually has on different objects apparently overcome by its utility. He speaks of them in revealing terms; he injects them a new perspective and invites us to rotate along with them in a kind of carousel.
Among the closest objects to his work we found the boat, and embarkations derivative of it; visibly hardened by his imagination. These are signals connected very strongly with the social dynamics of our island. Just, the intend is based on the idea that these new boats merges in other locations, they hold more salt than others hangovers tied to the rhetoric of a political art; and especially a background that makes us think of distant times. Boats around their structures, affiliated to the contact of timber with the water, and a more classic expression of forms.
To name one of its series he uses the term emerging Architecture (2012); entering into a relationship with language that allows him to cover more than one sense and realize a so-called obsessions that lurk him; it is precisely its relationship with the urban space and the desire to act in the state of crisis, and fragmentation. Here is a very intimate question, which has to do with his perception, this amazing ability to go in detail and subtract it, to be shown as another reality. He said: “In this rope I really like the engraving: Havana has everything, has spots (2012)”, which undoubtedly; in his tone bears much resemblance to features that we already appreciated in photographs.
Octavio Irving engravings have the ability of oxygenate and create multiple interpretations that in our art have become in slogans almost sterile. He feels attracted to the experimenting with the variations of color, and shape, so very demanding, and ongoing dialogue with the tradition of this technique, provoking at the end an indisputable delight. Inter-places the desire to dissolve territoriality, getting a wide range of fictions that provide a conceptual complexity to his works.
His most recent exhibition Symptoms of permanence, displayed on a collateral expo to the Eighth National Engraving Meeting; in the open space of the magazine Revolution and Culture in the past year 2013; confirms the zeal and righteousness assumed front of his work, the ability to dive into memory on the territory of the piece, so that it can suck, and fatten their corpus in its total explosion of desire.