Víctor Gómez: PASION Y GENIO CREATIVO.
Por Gustavo Valdés.
En estos días Víctor Gómez se ocupa en una nueva serie de obras, un conjunto de recientes monotipias que esta vez ha titulado, con sabia redundancia, “Abstractions”. Y una vez más se confirma como un creador de gran estirpe, y ciertamente como uno de los grandes exponentes de la obra gráfica dentro la plástica cubana e internacional. Decir esto es también redundante si se sabe que Víctor Gómez es un artista cuya importante trayectoria ha sido recogida en antologías de arte y avalada por numerosos premios internacionales. Entre éstos, Gómez ha participado y recibido en el 2005 el Premio Rembrandt de Artes Gráficas, de la Universidad de Boston, y Premio Obra Magistral Tai-Ho de la Bienal Internacional de Grabado de Beijing, República Popular de China, en su edición del 2003. En el Japón, su obra ha sido aclamada en la Trienal de Tokio de Grabado en Pequeño Formato de la Universidad de Arte Tama, en 1998. También en este año fue premiado con el Premio de Arte del Museo Tosayamada durante la tercera edición de la Trienal Internacional de Grabado, en Kochi. La prestigiosa trienal competitiva de grabado en Osaka, Japón le otorgó el Premio Especial del Organizador, en 1991. Para interrumpir la larga lista, debemos terminar con que la Novena Bienal Iberoamericana y del Caribe de Grabado en San Juan, Puerto Rico, le adjudicó Mención Honorable en la categoría de monotipia. Esta lista de logros artísticos pareciera imposible si tomásemos en consideración que junto a su propia obra, y próximo ya a los 20 años, Victor Gómez desde su Miami Press Publishers ha extendido su experiencia en el mundo de las prensas y su generosidad personal a la publicación y promoción de serigrafías y en otras técnicas de grabado de creadores cubanos, entre los que destacan figuras como Cundo Bermúdez, Mijares, Mario Carreño, Agustín Fernández, Enrique Gay García, Hugo Consuegra, Carmen Herrera, Eduardo Michaelsen, Mario Torroella, Gustavo Acosta, Ramón Alejandro, Jesús Selgas, Agustín Gaínza, y tantos otros, hasta llegar a su más reciente edición del 2007 del pintor Arcadio Cancio. Inventario aún parcialmente disponible a través de esta casa publicadora de gráfica cubana que dirige Victor Gómez desde el corazón del Bird Road Arts District, en su adoptiva ciudad de Miami.
Volviendo a Víctor Gómez, el artista, cabe señalar que recientemente regresó a la pintura con un reducido pero impresionante cuerpo de lienzos de gran formato que sorprenden por la explosión de formas múltiples, al modo de diseños imposibles que evocan los mundos animal y vegetal, entrelazados todos con una poderosa amalgama de caprichosas formas surgidas de la imaginación del pintor, y yuxtapuestos en planos de intenso o sofocado color, según el ánimo del artista, y que marcan el pulso de la composición, llevándola desde lo apacible hasta lo caótico. Cuadros de gran intensidad emocional en los que el pincel del pintor es herramienta reveladora de una realidad subjetiva, contradictoria, surrealista. De este magnífico conjunto de lienzos, en mi opinión, merecedor de ser incluído entre lo más significativo de la pintura cubana contemporánea, surgen estas nuevas “Abstractions”, estas monotipias, renovado reto del grabador y su vocabulario pictórico, ahora en un medio de mayor libertad y espontaneidad pese al control que demanda el medio. Son obras concebidas a través de un proceso minucioso y obsesivo. El artista somete la blancura del papel a un proceso que va del gesto expansivo al control de las violentas manchas de color. Superficie y volumen ayudan a contar una historia de figuración y abstracción, conceptos yuxtapuestos como pares. Son historias gestuales, traicionadas por el cuidado al detalle. Son escenarios cotidianos en todas sus variaciones posibles, cercanas y distantes al mismo tiempo, y que por la constante de poética y la calidad pictórica, son meritorios del juicio escrutiñador y la complacencia de especialistas y amantes del arte por igual. Son obras que por su compleja y rica intimidad, rebasan lo personal y devienen propiedad de todos.
Victor Gómez es siempre revelación constante, a la manera de los grandes artistas de todas las épocas. Y es ese artista fuera de serie, ese indudable maestro de la plástica cubana, comprometido únicamente con su obra -que es su misión creadora- en paciente espera porque el mundo exterior le alcance.
Gustavo Valdés, Nueva York, verano de 2007
Gustavo Valdés es historiador y curador de arte, radicado en el área metropolitana de Nueva York.
Victor Gómez: A MASTERFUL JOURNEY.
Por Gustavo Valdés.
If a picture is worth the proverbial thousand words, taking a peek at the impressive career of Victor Gómez, one of Cuba’s most gifted artists, surely adds a few thousands more – especially when it comes to a body of work that it nears almost five decades.
A young Victor Gómez sailed into the vast world of the arts in his native Havana where he was born in 1941. Soon he will be fascinated by colors, forms, paints, volumes, perspectives. Years later and, after being formally trained in various disciplines at the Academy of San Alejandro, he began a journey of self-discovery and creative growth that nowadays encompasses a prolific trajectory. As a painter, draftsman, ceramist and, most importantly, as a printmaker, Victor Gómez, has carved for himself a distinguished place in contemporary Cuban visual arts.
A look into the past will show that by the 1970s, Gómez already enjoyed a well-deserved reputation in the Havana art circles due to his commendable and progressive=2 0work as a leading figure in the new and very active Brigada Hermanos Saíz (Brigade Saíz Brothers), an artistic collective that promoted the work of emerging as well as established Cuban artists through exhibitions, art talks and symposiums both nationally and abroad. Not exempt of governmental scrutiny and control, the artists members of the Brigada Hermanos Saíz, were able to wisely push the limits imposed by the communist regime and produce, beyond multiple harsh restrictions, a series of memorable events and art happenings that helped shape and solidify Cuba’s position in the international art arena of the epoch. Towards the decade’s end, exactly in 1977, Gómez once again takes the lead in the creation of Grupo Versiones del Paisaje (Group Versions of Landscape) that included in its original formation nine artists, primarily painters, who will dedicate most of their creations to the exploration of landscape painting becoming the first established group of its kind in the island. While Gómez and the members of Grupo Versiones del Paisaje aimed at revitalizing the Cuban landscape tradition, returning it to a deserving place as a subject for the arts, some of them took on landscape painting as a way of distancing themselves from and rejecting the regime-favored “socialist realism” that had partially and opportunistically permeated Cuban art by means of instructors -from the former USSR- in art schools and academies and was threatening an internationally celebrated Cuban identity in the arts.
Grupo Versiones del Paisaje was active until 1982, two years after one of his founding pillars, Victor Gómez, went into exile through the Mariel exodus and anchored in the city of Miami; then and now, the city that holds the biggest settlement of Cuban exiles, and a city rightfully nicknamed by some as la otra Cuba (the other Cuba). Some, yet not all, not enough is known about the history of Cuban exile, and certainly, much less is known about the story of the thousands of Cuban artists scattered throughout the world. Exile poses for anyone a multitude of challenges; for artists, often means a duplication of those. Victor Gómez’s story as an exile artist is not deprived of challenges, yet it is a story of no defeats. Exile brought about artistic and entrepreneurial success for a consummated master printmaker who rose to the difficulties and scars of exile with tenacity and purpose, conviction and idealism, and a regained sense of freedom that liberated his creative process into a myriad of paths. Living and working in exile has confirmed Gómez’s vertical and outspoken political position against Cuba’s castrating communist regime, even at the cost –paid by so many equally great artists- of not being accepted by compromised art circles or the left wing establishment, or at worst, being isolated as an attempt of silencing genuine screams of frustration and fury. Time and again, Victor Gómez, unshaken, Ulysses against the storm. With the freedom to take his incredible talent and skills and the resulting art anywhere he so desired, Gómez found in submissions to international printmaking biennials and contests a rewarding experience as well as a challenge to ceaselessly change and renew the many aspects of his art. Among the many prestigious inclusions and awards, Victor Gómez counts with the Rembrandt Award in Graphic Arts given by the University of Boston in 2005, and the Award of Excellence Tai-Ho by the International Biennial of Engraving of Beijing, China in its 2003 edition. In Japan, in 1998, Gómez’s work has been acclaimed at the Tokyo Triennial of Small Format Prints of the Art University of Tama. In the same year he was awarded the Art Prize of the Tosayamada Museum at the third edition of the International Triennial of Printmaking, in Kochi. The prestigious triennial and contest of printmaking in Osaka, Japan, awarded Victor Gómez, in 1991, the Organizer’s Special Prize. Ending a long roster of accomplishment in the field of printmaking, it should be noted that the Ninth Biennial of Printmaking of Iberia-America and the Caribbean in San Juan, Puerto Rico, reserved for him a Honorable Mention in the category of monotype, a medium to which Gómez has devoted a considerable part of his creative endeavor and in which he has excelled, producing some of the most technically striking, visually commanding and fluidly poetic works in this genre of printmaking.
In a show of personal generosity and a sort of business maverick, Victor Gómez founded Miami Press Publishers, where besides producing his own work he publishes and promotes the works of several of his Cuban counterparts, like himself, in exile. For over twenty years, this publishing house of Cuban graphic arts has accumulated an extraordinary inventory of works by important artists who in Quixotic turns of destinies have placed their works –far from adversary postures at this other side of the sea- in the summum which is the art of Cuba today. After all these years Miami Press Publishers continues to amaze with its commitment and faithfulness to great artworks by Cubans out of Cuba.
Victor Gómez distances himself from the representational to become a pure abstractionist, a painter and printmaker whose work juxtaposes the material and the spiritual worlds, whose work thrives in contradictions staged to make the viewers decipher for themselves what at first sight may seem unknowable, and make it their own. Far from imbuing his work with dogmatic spiritualism, Gómez allows us to deepen ourselves in our own spirituality, to search in the profoundness of ourselves to emerge with rational –yet sensorial- explanations for our sentiments, feelings and actions. In his work, the gesture, triggered by a controlled spontaneity, affects the surface, whether canvas or paper, at times tenderly, at times violently. The works included in this portfolio are no exception to this very intimate and unique process th rough which Victor Gómez pours the very best of his creative soul.
A portfolio like this one is a rare find in these days when so much visual impact is sought, purchased, and displayed, and so little emotional transcendence is delivered by the artist. When an artist of the caliber of Victor Gómez decides to gather in an edition a compendium of a life in the arts, a celebration of a distinguished career, what the collector acquires is more than mere artworks to be rushed to a framer and hung on some visible spot or home gallery, it is the artist’s lifelong compromise with artistic integrity, a devotion for creation, and a great wealth of lyricism that becomes materialized in the hands of the artist. Victor Gómez has once again delivered a magnificent grouping of serigraphs, part soul, and part unparallel artistry.
Víctor Gómez recently returned to painting with a reduced but impressive body of works on canvas in large format that surprises for its explosion of multiple forms, in the manner of impossible, inexplicable designs that evoke the animal and the vegetal, the concrete and the subjective worlds, all intertwined with a powerful amalgam of capricious forms emerged from the painter’s imagination. Thes e are then juxtaposed in planes of intense or suffocated color which measure the pulse of the composition, taking it –masterfully- from calmness to chaos. In these serigraphs, however, the forms reach total abstraction, color struggles with the forms for a protagonist role, and yet, one senses the same intention of the artist for providing that great emotional intensity. When I published my impressions about these paintings, I wrote they were deserving of being hailed as of most significance within contemporary Cuban painting. The serigraphs in this portfolio come to prove that Victor Gómez creates painting and graphic works that embody concretely a range of experiences impossible to articulate in complete accurate terms, and like the mentioned group of recent paintings, these serigraphs are destined to great appreciation by those with a scrutinizing eye for art.
Victor Gómez continues to work quietly, to create his fascinating visions, to populate his inner worlds with meticulousness and obsession. Always growing, always enlightening his pictorial vocabulary. He continues to force the whiteness of the paper and canvas to a process that goes from the expansive gesture to the control of violent stains of color. Surface and volume conspire to tell a story of forms and abstraction, of concepts juxtaposed as pairs. His are gestural stories, betrayed only by the carefulness in the detai l. His are those scenes of everyday life with all the possible variations, close and distant at the same time, complex, rich, intimate which by a poetic hazard surpass the personal and become everyone’s properties.
Victor Gómez is, like all great artists of all epochs, always mystery and revelation. And he is that extraordinary artist -undoubtedly a master of today’s Cuban arts- compromised only with his creative mission, waiting patiently for the outside world to reach him.
Gustavo Valdés New York, spring 2008.
Gustavo Valdés is an art historian and independ ent curator who lives and works in the New York metropolitan area. He has published El color de la palabra: entrevistas a 32 artistas cubanos (The Color of Words: 32 Cuban Artists Interviewed), and co-edited the monograph Hugo Consuegra. He is co-producer of Un pintor, un cuadro (A painter, a painting) a series of short films that profile distinguished Cuban artists in exile.