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Candelario: from the subjective to the utilitarian

Candelario: from the subjective to the utilitarian

After exchanging a few of opinions and ideas with him, it is not difficult to unravel the key question that immerses him into all-inclusive and dynamic projects: “Why have I been placed here?” At that point, man will look for an answer that will strip away all useless details. In his own special case, that answer, of course, is going to involve some esthetic values, certain dimensions where he deposits and develops his concerns that constantly shoot forward like darts.

With his feet firmly planted on this ground of peripheries, he looks out over what is happening, especially towards the center of things. He opens up his mind, releasing a kind of obsession of adding his mind to a kind of collective head in which a process of apparent pollution and excessive promiscuity, may enrich him.

His strategies when placing individuals in the presence of their memories is striking. At the same time, he provides them with tools so that they can move beyond the immediate that tends to become the customary, which frustrates true self-recognition that is capable of awakening and activating the potential in each one of us for the benefit of the community.

The complex and yet fascinating relationship human beings have with both their surroundings and  other human beings needs to be reinforced with additional doses of oxygen, its rigidity blasted away, and tensions removed so, that rather than signifying an experience of punishment in which vigilance reigns, it may become a process where pleasure predominates in all its various expressive manners. Positioning art into this scenario is one of his priorities. And a new question then appears: “How can we navigate a path around those things that restrict our freedom?”

Based on the above, it is easy to understand that some of his work should be projects that facilitate activities and hopes that would not find opportune answers through institutional channels. A very obvious example of this type of action is MAC/SAN, the contemporary art museum of San Agustin, and a television system that has arisen from it and makes the medium more democratic, with a hint of parody.

Another phase of his work uses performance in a novel way: He doesn’t seduce or trick the viewers, but involves them and call upon them to do a re-reading of urban elements in which they can take part with their own bodies. It is clear that Candelario is aiming at a new kind of art consumer and that he is dealing with a city life that is ruled by the social history of a suburban neighborhood.
Before being executed, these performances go through a preliminary process in which other facets of his talent are manifested: Firstly, his ability to create designs that perfectly adapt to the dynamics that will be deployed on the street, designs that will visibly showcase his well-proven skill in drawing.

For Candelario, drawing is something like the crypt from where he starts out in order to communicate with others; a fertile area in which everything that he aspires to in another material dimension will hatch. Within this language, his irreverence bears fruit at the precise moment when all the nutrients distilled through strong subjectivity begin to take shape and become visible in a pragmatic and utilitarian sense.

His drawings are legitimate universes in themselves, metaphors that explore and describe the connection of man with spaces. They speak to us about difficult relationships and constant friction, becoming a shrewd way of visualizing conflicts, and, especially, of identifying the instant those conflicts explode within the inner universe of individuals. Some of these drawings are memorable, such as the triptych called Captura de presencia [Capturing Presence], La cama [The Bed]and Vientos urbanos [Urban Currents].

Captura de presencia is an essay on movement. It represents sequences capable of storing the mishaps accompanying us in our journeys around the city. The artist suggests three fundamental concerns here: mobility, cohabitation and all the subjectivity generated as the inevitable result of constant interchanges.

The drawing called La cama gives us the feeling of being a consequence of Captura de presencia. It shows us contaminated privacy where the dreams of an individual have betrayed him exactly where he is supposed to be invulnerable to the forces coming from the exterior. The surface for sleeping looks like it has been affected by the structure of a specific neighborhood. We can read the following inscription in the drawing: “San Agustín es un barrio dormitorio” [San Agustín is a dormitory neighborhood].

Vientos urbanos enjoys increased dynamics satirizing, through symbolic elements (like Lego blocks), the relationship between thinking and the scenario where thought is projected on. Conduits and communication channels are set up to support and raise consciousness about that incessant flow, always influencing people’s behaviors.

One of his more complex, meaningful shows, in which interaction becomes the protagonist, is Equipaje personal [Personal Baggage)], made in Miami, essential spot for the conceptual and emotional charge this work demands. A key piece in this show is a sculpture that allows spectators to make a phone call when they project their voices near the piece. At a certain point, viewers almost have to shout in order to make this happen. The person is subconsciously reproducing a habit that was common when they were living in Cuba, but uncommon in exile. So, for a few seconds, viewers returns to their past thanks to this bridge that was placed there by art.

Finally, Candelario decided to tell me about the piece he will be showing at the Twelfth Havana Art Biennale in May-June of 2015. It is a sculpture that is a habitable building at the same time, to be installed in the courtyard of the Wifredo Lam Center for Contemporary Art for a year. If people want to do so, they can actually stay and live inside the piece for a while. When the exhibition is over, the building will be taken apart and the pieces will be auctioned off as sculptures and so the people purchasing them can install them wherever they want.
May 2015 This article formed part of the May 2015 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.


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