Portal of Visual Arts in Cuba Antonio Pérez Santos
Let's say that Rubén Rodríguez does not seduce the viewer with the empire of the decorative or the sumptuous, although his work - consistent and well planted - travels, from the processes of painting (of its specific sign), the path of the masters . In the midst of the whirlwind of renewal and innovation of the eighties, he focused on propping up a poetics based on the domain of the media and technical requirements of art. Nothing can be reproached in terms of realization and invoice.

Today Rubén is an accomplished creator in the sense of a great author. First, because of his rigorous years of training with many outstanding teachers, but with the weight and undeniable stamp —even when it is not an obvious and legible mark— of that avant-garde that was Antonio Vidal. Second, because of its long run of more than thirty-five years and, above all, because of the extension and scope of its production. And, at this point, for him painting is a fact: he paints as he wants. Now, qualifying his method as strict or tight would be just one more sin, if this leads us to ignore the entire procedural load - as artistic elaboration and as work done with pictorial matter - that, under that sieve of sobriety and restraint, is hidden.

The emphasis on the charcoal line - it faces the Cuban pictorial tradition from Wifredo Lam to the present day, only now it is practically the absolute protagonist of the discourse and imposes its own semantics - marks and determines the rest of the formal relationships. The planimetry, the compositional hegemony of the human figure, the insistence on whites, blacks and the different gradations of gray - sometimes punctuated by very light and almost imperceptible blue, yellow, green and red accents - underline the drama and general expression of the works.

The previous observations of structure and morphology would not serve or anticipate much, if they did not reveal the keys that stimulate and predetermine active approach, complex and challenging reading. Rubén accommodates his arsenal of visual registers to introduce us, from a personal and finished trace, to the prominence of his art, he involves us in the adventure of bodies and in the greed for sex in its orgiastic dimension and even in its rottenness. Of course: without trauma or scandalous will. Rather, a wink and complicity in between, he takes us by the hand and invites us to a natural transit.

It is not about elliptical constructions, because the subject is there before the eyes. But something of silence, of course, of enigma, haunts the atmospheres of his paintings: it is not pure evocation, but it is evoked; nor pure metaphor, but it is alluded to. The public knows what is being seen and also what is not being seen. In this way, the detail and the anecdote still have space for the individual and collective foundation of meanings and plural meanings. It is not the voluptuous character that gets us; it is the oscillating violence between the subjection, the referred and the explicit. It is the palpable act of surrender and possession, of submitting and being submitted. All of the above allows us to participate in the artist's own amazement and share with him that sublime and anguished pilgrimage of the sexual being.

The value of his recreations and conjectures lies in the plastic force of the representation and also in the defiant gesture of his sincere eroticism, loaded with references and quotes to the genitals and culminating ecstasy. The human body will always be an exotic landscape: a meadow with unsuspected paths, with trails that branch off towards existence, exploration, anxiety and desire.

Rubén is not afraid. It is exhibited to us as The Flayed Ox. He invites us to put our hands in his flesh, to delve into them, to scrutinize in ourselves the most visceral ambitions, behind a truth that, beforehand, he knows ungraspable and equally ineluctable, when we investigate the dark and tangled recesses of the man.

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March 23, 2016