(A selection of works made in Painting -with salt, enamel, ashes, coal, oil, acrylic or Mixed Media- is shown to offer a global vision of the different produced series)
Mea Culpa, 2018-2019 (Painting: Collage, Assemblage and Fire)
Palimpsest series, 2015-2016 (Codex - Ex re signatur) Mixed Media Collage-Assemblage
From Tabula Rasa series, 2014-2015. Spirit of Salt, Rust and Ashes...
Correcting the Gaze, 2013-2014 (From the Prosthesis series). Eingeleibter Salz Geist
Detritus, 2012-2013 (Paper Collage on Canvas and Slide Projection)
The Process, 2006 (Photography and Mixed Media on Canvas)
Painting (Study Period) Academy of Fine Arts
Survivors, 1995 (Painting: Mixed Media)
Guantanamera, 1993-1995 (Painting: Oil on Canvas)
Genesis of the Apocalypse, 1988-1990 (Painting: Acrylic on Canvas)
Painting in the work of Ernesto Benitez (Contemporary Art)
The painting in Ernesto Benítez’s work is presented, formally, with a wide spectrum of materials, supports and visual styles always in a context of exploration and experimentation. Prioritizing the conceptual dimension, the issues around which he reflects and the theses he proposes in his work, from a very young age Ernesto assumes a way of relating to painting, expanding its borders to the point of proposing pictorial sitings.
At the beginning, during his studies at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, his work is characterized by the visceral impulse of an adolescent artist and his rebelliousness. His provocative, desacralizing and contestatory conception of art led him to make friends with some members of the mythical Arte-Calle group, with whom he already shared the classrooms. From then on, he would participate in several murals (Walls) and other activities that Arte-Calle developed in the urban center of Havana during those years.
That was time of Bad Painting, drippings and gestural painting; time of Kitsch, Art Brut, marginal art and thus it can be appreciated in the urban murals that Arte-Calle painted between years 1987-1989 or, in most of the works that integrated the exhibition “Without Title” that some members of the Group realized in the own gallery of the Academy San Alejandro in 1988; But by then Ernesto was already aware of his multiple scission as a human being and, even though the artist’s conceptual interests coincided with many of the postulates of the young and influential artistic group, at this time Ernesto has already begun to configure a poetics of a more intimate nature, with special interest in exploring the contradictory twists and turns of human spirituality. A poetics more in line with the restorative dimension of the experience of art and the process of creation as exorcism. From now on, the artist will discard those strident morphologies, but he will filter and retake the grotesque and lysergic spirit of psychedelia, typical of those experiences. He will regurgitate them (in the context of his artistic praxis) in many works that constantly scrutinize this neo-medieval modernity: he evokes them when proposes his social readings and cultural interpretations from an aesthetic of decadence.
In short, Ernesto Benítez’s painting has experienced -in the visual and stylistic realm- a path that starts from what we could call a gestural spontaneity marked by the influence of hapening and performance painting in his student period which leads to a cynical pop visuality. On the same reflective level, he proposes us a figurative academic mannerism (let’s remember his oil-painted pastiches on canvas previously used as political propaganda banners) from the 1990s and early 2000s. in these works, ironically, he appropriates iconic images of Cuban art history, its most outstanding representatives of the artistic avant-gardes and other classic works of European Renaissance art. His “paintings” made in the mid-2000’s with organic materials derived from fire (ashes, coal, etc.) and elements of digital art (digital photographic prints on canvas) are notorious. In them he established interesting analogies between the processes of art, power relations and medieval instruments of torture of the Inquisition. But, above all, let’s also remember the works in mixed technique with a marked minimalist character (minimal) made with ashes from burnt philosophy books, as part of the project “7 days of silence” 2011-2018. We refer to the “Layered Paintings” that later derive in his “abstract painting” (abstract art) with which he explores the European interpretation of the world and the dystopian dimension of Western thought.