By Ramón Cabrera Salort
“Tenacious struggle between fire and stones”.
José Lezama Lima
“breaking his anxiety with fire”.
Ernesto Benitez has started a journey, from his exhibition “The light of the body” that refers directly to the title of one of his works in this exhibition: trying to unveil the mystery of living. He intends the artist to recover the spells of the officiant, of the one who communicates with the invisible forces and at the end reveals which is the path to follow. Once on the road, in life, walking, living: work. The work also manifests itself as being and in this work and in this being, the artist finds the path of God. A god of personal resonances not subject to any religion, perhaps to a religion of the human with anthroposophical roots, like the one Beuys found in Steiner. The strength of his references lies in the conceptual.
The eighteen works that make up the exhibition “On the Road”, operate as reflective stays of a life that runs from “To tear the veil of the arcane” to “To disappear”. This journey that begins with the mystery of all existence until death, the journey of another beginning, traces the visual journey that Ernesto Benítez proposes to us. Each one of the works is in itself a reflection and an incantation with value in itself and at the same time is part of a larger whole: the milestones of a path. We refer to reflection and incantation, because in his work we feel the ascent to knowledge and the plea, the final petition that accompanies it. From that fervor that builds his reason grow the creations that are exhibited today.
The artist articulates his ritual discourse with a parsimony of means and formats that alludes to the germinal substance of the living in few elements, in the way in which the philosophers of nature of ancient Greece argued the composition of the world. On the other hand, that controlled and reduced range of materials with which he conceives his works, the same reiteration of two types of measures for his works: 75 x 55 cm. in the vertical format and its opposite in the horizontal, are ascribed to the dictates of the ritual, to the measure that guides the ceremony. Was it not so from the very dawn of man, what was it but the “magic block”, magnetized, sacralized space? Only now the ceremonial is built by the artist himself, built from reflection and culture, but perhaps with the same existential dread before the flimsiness of man.
Of the persistence in the use of ashes there are samples in his previous works; those that he gathers in this exhibition make of ashes and charcoal on cardboard, the substances with which the artist builds his plea, his meditation: work. The nature of the very materials with which he creates, their direct relationship with the natural and their becoming – the ash being the transmutative result, the result of a change finally stopped, statified – respond to the intentions of the artist turned “seer”, the chosen one of the group.
The plane of his works functions as the board on which the soothsayer runs images to know which will be the way, where we are going… But the magical substance of this work is not directly affiliated, as it has often been done in recent decades, to one of our ethnic roots, evidence of an identity, in many occasions, externalist, but rather to a magical universe of the human. If we look closely at each of the eighteen works that make up the exhibition, it will be possible to verify this.
The insistent simplicity of its images and their meanings: the silhouette of a hand (evidence of a path), profiles of faces (disturbing question), an ear of corn/sex (the fecundating, the nascent), knives, scissors (the sharp, the sacrificial)…, allude to the enigmas of living and its persistent validity. From a dissolved background, his figures emerge, often dripping themselves, and without separating from it, they leave. Thus in enumeration, works such as “Birth of Man”, “Seed of Light”, “Gate of the Spirit”, “Ascending to the depths” follow one another. In others the contour line thickens irregularities,
-The reading yields its first evidences in that figuration and then opens up hidden conjectures from the space in which they levitate, an imprecise and infinite ambital: what gravitates is the absence of an answer. Let the images of man be seen again from the most recondite, we can begin.
 In Steiner’s words: “It is possible to bring forth from the depths of human nature powers of knowledge, thanks to which it is possible to follow the human being in his evolution, the human being in general: body, soul and spirit”.
Published in the catalog of the exhibition “En el Camino” (On the path), Espacio Abierto Gallery (Revolution y Culture Magazine). June 2000