There are great books in the world and great worlds in books. This truth is well known by the young painter Yasiel Álvarez, who for more than a decade has placed the book as the protagonist of his works, not only seen from its physical materiality, but also as a great well of wisdom. "I am motivated by the thirst for knowledge and our ever-changing society, that is why my work aims to dialogue with time and experience."
Yasiel Álvarez remembers his first approach to the book as a pictorial object in the drawing workshops at the “Eduardo Abela” Academy in San Antonio de los Baños, where he graduated with honors in the Specialty of Painting in 2009. “The initial idea revolved around to the spirituality of man seen through everyday objects that he is capable of creating, however with the passage of time I concentrated more on the book, perhaps because in itself it includes other meanings that are much more varied and encompassing ”, he explains.
The artist reveals that he is attracted to figurative forms, an example of this is the highly credible representation of books, sometimes old and torn, other times almost without leafing through. But they always emerge from abstract backgrounds, endowed with a certain animism, as if by themselves they could operate between them without any need for human assistance.
That is precisely another of the topics in his work: the absence of the human being. “The non-physical presence of man is replaced by the book, an element capable of collecting all the accumulated experience. In addition - he adds - it works for me to question situations and processes carried out by the human species ”.
There are no readers in the works of Yasiel Álvarez, but all the spectators are participants in the reading of his canvases and free to interpret it. As an artist of the most recent promotion, he assumes representation from the implicit and conceptualized since his creative work does not imply reproducing realities, rather reinventing them.
Yasiel Álvarez resides in a town located more than 50 kilometers from Havana. Although to create he needs the peace and tranquility that being removed from the capital gives him, he confesses that this remoteness affects the development of young creators, since it prevents them from attending important spaces of exchange.
“There are galleries that pay more attention to your curriculum than the work you propose to them, that is why it is important to be present in these spaces in the capital. In my case, the alternative found, always respecting the tranquility that I need to create, is to rely on family and friends who offer me accommodation or travel periodically to the capital, in order to be in direct contact with art and to be able to nourish myself with my peers. "
The acquisition of materials is another of the setbacks that he faces like many young people like him. Cuba has few supplier stores for visual artists, therefore the demand is greater than the supply and the artist must resort to inventiveness so as not to suspend the creation. "Brushes are almost never thrown away the first time, I change the cells, lengthen them or use them in other positions to achieve new effects," he explains.
The artist declares that he does not intend to limit himself only to the book object as the main character of his artistic work, however he still has much to express with it, that is why in his next exhibition we will see them again as the central axis. "Monochromatic tones - he anticipates - will be an important element in the exhibition and the odd book will appear with text."
By: Naimy Herrera, November 2021