“OUT OF BALANCE” SOLO ART SHOW – CATALOG WORDS – 2006
Out of Balance, the ten-year retrospective sample of Octavio Guinart’s plastic work at Ardex Gallery in Coral Gables, shows the craft of a masterful brush tormented by the tear of exile, and by the anxiety of searching for the promised dreamlike equilibrium in an unknown land, with, completely new, and constantly changing game rules.
The strong image of the painter cannot contain the easy flow of his conversation, or the years of study, peeking through the discrete presence of diverse schools in his paintings. From the Renaissance magic behind “Accounts Payable,” to the dramatic melancholy of the XIX century landscape treatment in “WTC (World Trade Center),” the surrealist touch in “A Common History,” or the socialist realism dry rigor in “From This Side of the Fence.”
Messenger who defies time, Guinart is able to make his canvases ask questions about the stories they tell, always beyond the image in them, like photographic flashes of an anxious moment eager to keep on going. “The Incredible History of the Güira de Macurijes’s Cows” and “Tribute to the Cojonudo” are two of those examples.
In the story behind “The Incredible History of the Güira de Macurijes’s Cows,” in today’s Cuba, killing a human being only entails seven years of prison, but killing a cow entails 20 years of jail. Necessity, however, imposes risks and elicits very creative ideas. In Güira de Macurijes, province of Matanzas, Cuba, people tie cows to railroads so that, once dead, they can take some food home, very silently. A cow could say much more than a tyrant. In “Tribute to the Cojonudo,” the image of a mutilated, ill, arrogant and decrepit dictator continues deciding on the future of his sad and subjugated people, with just a movement of his finger, much to the like of old Roman emperors. I believe that if Guinart had not had the technical resources so obvious in his works, he could have been an excellent storyteller.
There is another very interesting element in Guinart’s art. Naked bodies, extemporal backgrounds and classic subjects have always been plastic resources to escape time, to detach the painter from his/her own period. Guinart, on the other hand, in the style of the insigne Madrilenian, Jose Ortega and Gasset, seems to enjoy all the opposite. “I am I and my circumstance,” Ortega and Gasset would say at his moment. Following that train of though, Guinart ties his works tightly to his space and time with names like “The Incredible History of the Güira de Macurijes’s Cows,” “Accounts Payable,” featuring many actual insurance and credit cards, with his own name and identification, or “WTC (World Trade Center),” defense of his brush to a coward attack to the second fatherland. It is a witness of a dramatic moment in American history, a strong reminder, and an alert call for present and future generations.
From the thematic point of view, this retrospective sample is full of the political and economic problems of an exiled. “Project for a Torture Table” is full of symbols and nostalgia, the longing for the perpetually blue tropical skies, with palms in the horizon amidst a suffocating and oppressing socio-political habitat. “From This Side of the Fence,” the unbearable evidence of borders with the so-near and ever so-distant fatherland. “Born, Grown and Mutilated,” the amputation feeling, so inherent to exile. “Mental Transition of an Immigrant” reflects the anxiety due to the necessary adaptation and the profound, radical change that adapting to a new society entails.
As usual, space constraints the span of comments, but not the transcendence of an artist who has already imposed his strong seal in the scope of the contemporary plastic in spite of his young years. With tens of private and collective exhibitions in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Cuba, the Virgin Islands, Canada and the United States, besides multiple positive reviews in specialized field publications, Octavio Guinart’s career will attract many additional accolades in the near future.
Lic. Jose Montes has written art, theatre and ballet critic articles for “El Siglo”, Venezuela. He has been an Assistant Professor for Florida International University and Miami-Dade College, has edited poetry and storybooks for publishing houses in Argentina and Mexico, has been part of art competition juries in North and South America, and has produced, written and hosted radio and television programs in Miami.