Humid Areas: Ariel Cabrera

Opening 14th September

Álvaro Alcázar Gallery presents the exhibition Humid areas, a solo show by the Cuban artist Ariel Cabrera Montejo, which features around twenty paintings made in the last few months for this exhibition. It is a derivative of the series that make up his entire artistic career, combining various events related to Cuban memory with the review of traditional male archetypes of power, all with one leitmotiv: pleasure.

Cabrera’s compositions contain a myriad of messages and meanings that are the result of the artist’s imagination. Through a work of reinterpretation and reconstruction of historical documents and archives, closer to a filmmaker than a painter, Cabrera composes what might appear to be a collage between “cut-outs” of black and white photographs and colourful scenes of enjoyment. 

This dualism results in his so-called “neo-historicism” through which Cabrera recreates theatrical scenarios inspired by nineteenth-century events such as the Cuban War of Independence (1895-1898). But Ariel’s figures are not the solemn and victorious “manbises” or heroic characters depicted in traditional island paintings; instead they are rather anecdotal heroes, less military and more human: with carnal, playful and sensual desires, far from the traditional military archetype. There is no concern for historical accuracy and fidelity, as the protagonists of his paintings are inspired by real people and stories he has encountered in the course of his research. What we find is in any case a mockery of the formalities of history, always a sensitive subject for the political and propagandistic forces of various regimes.

Ariel’s work also has a very personal touch, as it is underlain by the artist’s interest in and knowledge of the history of his native country, as well as his past as a collector of small 19th-century American and European tables, archives, old newspapers and photographs, travel books, his great passion for Italian cinema, and his training in the field of stage design, all of which are coherently transferred to his painting. These elements serve as a formal resource for the artist to develop a style that evokes the impressionist painting of the end of the 19th century, based on rich chromaticism, contrasts of light and colour and different planes. This union between plausible historical reconstructions and archetypes that refer to idyllic scenarios of heroism and eroticism gives life to an idyllic set suspended in time. As in the cinema, everything intertwines in the artist’s head.

Ariel Cabrera Montejo (1982, Camagüey, Cuba) was trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Camagüey and at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Cuba. He currently lives and works in New York. Since 2014 he has had numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the Americas and Europe. His works are located in both public and private collections in Cuba, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Catalogue coming soon