By: Toni Piñera
A piece of pottery, any stone with the mark of an ornament, or a vestige of an ancient civilization, can be the object of a true cult by modern man. And if he is an artist, he questions the past as he was never questioned, in an effort to know better our roots, to know better where we came from?
The current work of the young painter, draftsman and engraver Ernesto Benítez (Havana, 1971), which he recently exhibited at the Wifredo Lam Gallery in Marianao under the title of Evangelios, is the culmination of a long process of study and analysis of “post-modernity and its important forms of modernist expression”.
Evangelios is another phase of his work that is not divorced from the above, and whose theme is religious-cultural, something that is of great interest to the creator “although I do not stop alluding to modern society. I seek, however, a definition of the two tendencies that influence Latin American culture from the moment of discovery. On the one hand, the Catholic religion and on the other the indigenous culture that existed in the continent with all its cosmovision“.
Ernesto Benitez captures in his paintings and drawings the two cultures, as superimposed images. “The true syncretism is given by the viewer, although I want the viewer to contribute to the work, adding personal criteria. My images are symbols”.
In what seems more an imperative of sensibility than a conscious will of style, today each one reaffirms his pictorial language in his own way. It is, in any case, a technically wise way characterized by the most exquisite refinement. Because a conceptual and pictorially rich reading is permeated in this work, which is linked to the pop heritage. Coming from a certain tradition, centered on the use and taste for painting, Ernesto Benitez’s pieces demonstrate the artist’s mastery of the use of color, as well as the capacity for composition, design and evocation.
As a way of expression “I use pop – confesses the creator who graduated from the San Alejandro Academy – which is also a cultural logo of the avant-garde and that absorbed by it takes away aggressiveness, making it more accessible. One more way of approaching the work I want to do”.
In his latest work entitled Evangelios, the artist often tears and burns the paper, seeking a dialogue with time so that his works look like ancient papyrus.