The exhibition Perpetuate – dislocate – perpetuate by artist Alejandro Campins (Manzanillo, Cuba, 1981) gathers a group of oil paintings on canvas, drawings, and egg tempera on wood; representative works of two recent series: Badlands and Tibet. The works are personal approaches to one of the oldest topics in art: transcendence. For the artist, the earth, perceived in both series as an abstraction of the sage of times and locations of great cultural significance, has a symbolic connotation of equal resonance to that of bronze for Renaissance sculptors: a gesture of resistance to time itself; an allegory of natural justice. His action on these landscapes is not one of a traditional observer, but rather of an archaeologist, an antiquarian or a witness. His eye is immersed in the immediate experience of inhabiting the here and now, and from this he subtracts the components with which to construct a canon of beauty capable of transcending arranged limits concerning the sublime, the pathetic, the fearsome, the sacred and the barbaric. Behind this particular procedure he channels one of his primary obsessions: the representation of truth and the truth of representation.
Badlands immerses us in the mysticism of the Painted Desert of Arizona, USA. In this region, sedimentation has conquered all vital forms, reducing it to stone volume. The mighty mountains that inhabit the desert carry in their body the most incisive marks of the slow and captious erosion that has occurred. Fruits nourished by the silent and dense juice of 225 million years. The artist moulds them like capsules, condensations, colossal bodies; in them allegorizes the overwhelming passage of geological ages. In his paintings the forms are constituted by lineal residues, each one sign and axis of a past horizon. Thus, they transform time, which ceases to be a transitory phenomenon, to become a concrete fact, a monument.
Tibet take us into one of the most interesting geographies in the contemporary world: the northern plateau of the Himalayas, known as the Roof of the World. The most frequent idea in this series is the odyssey of cultural transformation. For this reason the point of view is not the natural landscape itself, but the conflict behind the veil of its beautiful appearance: the impact of the Chinese Cultural Revolution on Tibetan Buddhism. In this habitat, where apparent dualities and accidents are non-existent, the architectural ruin acquires great relevance as a synthesis of all possible conflict or metamorphosis.
In each landscape and series, the absence of limit is a primordial idea. The horizon, the era, the history and the border reveal its fragile armatures, its frivolity and, finally, mortality; unequivocal symptoms of human finitude. One detail should be taken into account when admiring such fascinating archives of images: for Campins, beauty is not an anecdote based on the triumph of some images over others, or of some memories over others. It is a journey to the centre of truth; it is knowing how to dwell in the shadows of the most delicate harmonies of magnificent natural work.
Testo di Luis Sicre
Alejandro Campins Fleita (Manzanillo, Cuba 1981) lives and works between Havana and Madrid. A selection of recent solo exhibitions include: Miedo a la muerte es miedo a la verdad, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana (2019); Public Declaration, Galleria Continua, San Gimignano (2017); City of Queen Anne´s Lace (duo show), Wasserman Projects, Detroit (2017); Los ojos de la percepción, Fototeca de Cuba, Havana (2016) and Lapse, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York (2016). A selection of recent group exhibitions that feature his work include: La Brêche, Galleria Continua, Paris (2021); Time for Change: Art and Social Unrest in the Jorge Perez Collection, El Espacio 23, Miami, Florida (2019); Buena Vista, Fondation Clément, Martinique (2018); Pintar a contratiempo, Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura, Havana, Cuba (2018); Edifice, Complex, Visionary, Structure, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York (2018); Cuba mi amor, Teatro Franco Parenti, Milan (2017); Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2017); Art x Cuba, Contemporary Perspectives since 1989, Ludwig Forum fur Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (2017); Overseas, Halle 14, Center for Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Germany (2017); Cuban art now, Singer Museum, Laren, The Netherlands (2017); Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950, MFAH, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (2017); Wild Noise/Ruido Salvaje, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2017).
In 2019 he was part of the Cuban Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale and of the XIII Havana Biennial.
A very special thanks to Galleria Continua.