By: Dayma Crespo Zaporta
The Cuban artist Octavio Irving Hernandez Jimenez, after a relative silence within the cultural sphere of the country, returns to his work as a visual artist with vigor. This time he presents a solo exhibition, entitled Tell me who your friends are… The exhibition is located in La Cabaña, as part of collateral projects from the Twelfth Biennial of Havana (Zona Franca), to be held from 22 May to June 22 of this year 2015, specifically in the K4 Pavilion.
His current proposal is worthy of belonging to the pages of good contemporary art, it breaks the mold and at the same time requires de-automation of thought in search of something more -in the conceptual level- than offered by the mere perception. In the words of Irving, as part of the Statement Expo in question, “it aims to be a critical exercise of new aesthetic that seem to me empty, but from the sarcasm and irony which suggests the use of some of its codes, but re-meanings”.
The author, winner of La Joven Estampa 2007 award remains in engraving line, but in a more fresh level to replace the paper with a softer surface. The use of extra-artistic objects speak of a postmodern vocation putting themselves as canons of art history in crisis. The vital and priority objective of this meeting is the direct communication with the receiver, in order to reflect on issues of art and the contemporary world in general through the works of the artist.
In Sweet Dreams, from Cultura Blanda series, Irving uses lithography to achieve a happy serialization that recalls the Pop Art, specifically to Elizabeths and Marylins by Andy Warhol. He inherited, he also subverts through pillows that serve as a support for the pieces. The rabbit is an iconography that perturb him some time and allows to express its torments around contemporary art. How adorable image of these mammals speaks about the docility, about the ductile and the meek, and being printed on this kind of cushions, complete the concept that gives origin to the title of the piece.
The benefit of being involved, meanwhile, is a work of great dimensions ranging from the more traditional plastic to installations atmosphere. The kitsch serves him in this endeavor, but without sticking to it at all, because he assaults with mottled Teddies, which refers to the tenderness of childhood. The coexistence of a generic human beside a blind herd of quadrupeds and the cloning of crows looking someway to analogize our condition of animals from a social point of view. They are images that emerged during the creative process, in a sort of subconscious experimentation that no premeditated any particular significance. However, to be on the wall of the gallery, the pieces itself are bathe in the aura of this coexistence, and what was a surreal trial drawing is transformed into concepts according to the subjectivity of each receiver.
Lighting tradition closes the perceptual process of the sample. It is a work composed of five light boxes that store another way to assumed the landscape. The artist desacralize the landscape to bring it to our temporary space. Cuban landscape is quite outdated, hence the need to re-light it, and that is the reason of the game between the title and the holder of the pieces. The kitsch is presented again through popular items such as bunches of artificial flowers, which Irving dismantles and manipulated at will.
Undoubtedly, Tell me who your friends are… is far from the artistic work of the author until the present, the sample has impacts and provokes to the more conservative people. It is a reflection on our current art scene and it is a way of channeling disagreements and concerns. And it is that Irving cares for his time and he tries to do something with him. He lead us to interesting questions, and this is only his first step.