Room as a living enclosure

Lindomar Placencia (Camagüey, 1976) seems to find his place inside the hybrid current Cuban plastic arts scene, wherein we find those who commit for painting while the others explore new mediums and the active participation of the observer; this artist belongs to the second group which scrutinizes all about art even farther than pure conceptualist’s thoughts. Lindomar stands out by his proposal that boycotts the coldness and asepsis of the concept in this tendency and it’s also filled up with feelings and extreme sensitivity; here the plasticity of discursive elements remains at the same level of the idea.

In his early works he was looking for the construction of daily use objects in which he praised the beauty of the immediate surroundings into the highest expression, in full tune with that statement which advocated the art-life relationship since around 1960. They were useful objects filled of beauty and sense as well. From this postulates he intended an exhibit based in the “scenic representation” of the artist’s workshop itself where that private experience of creation would become public by involving the observer in a close conspiracy like dialog just with a visit to this intimate area. This exhibit did not take place but the aesthetic and theoretical basis began to strongly arise through incursions in drawing, “installation”, photography and video, always using the language in accordance to tale and intent.

It so begins the thoughtful undertaking on artistic creation and its multiple associations implicit and generated by it, making emphasis in his strictly personal nature as well as individual and introspective reception and intake.

Lindomar analyzes with precision how to construct from a previous idea –what, how, what with and what for- but inside this rationality he favors several suggestions for free interpretation. As we said before mediums and resources used with absolute precision are, at the same time, of vital sensorial effectiveness in spite of being mere springs to canalize communication; these mediums and resources generate deep sensations, that’s why they do not drop down to a second level as it happens with the object which serves as a carrier of the idea in the orthodox conceptualism; they actually gain as much magnitude as the idea itself, so they turn indispensable due to their strong, permanent impact in memory which will help to understand their reasons and implications in a later moment. Nothing more or less, everything is supported by the controlled mediums economy based on the exact, almost scientific precision of the objectives; the minimum required to achieve the utmost beauty, the greater sense and formal purity.

The 3rd Cuban Contemporary Art Exhibit (2001) followed as principal task a special remark on the insistent searching of many artists to a safe and direct approach to the observer throughout sensations displayed by the works. This exhibit gave away the persistence of many works in displaying subtle or blunt paradoxes from diverse perspectives. The reaction of the observer is immediate in the case of Placencia and the contradictions in terms shows up almost all over his work in an evident way. This and even more could be confirmed only with a description of a few details. We will discover this way –by observing some visual traps, certain materials alien to art, and the support of titles-, the issues treated in all his production: the concerns, dissatisfactions, anxieties, dreams and aspirations of the individuals, the artist and himself; the nature of art and its destiny; the constant becoming in which life and truth are immerse on; the outlined contradictions of existence, of this world. He goes farther on the unusual relevance given to contemporary coordinates of space and time, the statement is already indispensable not just as a verbal supplement but also as another constructive tool which increases and widens interpretation. Most of names are in English, a language in which each word has a semantic spectrum wider than in Spanish –a precise language par excellence- so they turn out a lot more suggestive.

The first work I saw of this artist was Velo (Veil), an installation of six fluorescent lamps which formed a luminous grille in a door. Here is the paradox: intending light as the principle which allows vision –which may mean knowledge, and also may works as a symbol for virtue, intelligence and salvation- is presented here as blocking the way; it shuts our path, draws a veil upon the exit, hides it from us. It’s a work made for specific location as the others, where light is used as a structural element articulating space, to question the reality of what we perceive and to bring us to the limit sense as a feeling of impossibility. No doubt, this work projects the first complaint of this artist.

From now on, the luminous element will be used persistently, boosting the idea in many of his works. Rope was one of the most successful, beautiful and suggestive, another spatial intervention made with five black lamps placed on the roof, just above 10,000 yards of silk thread tightened between the longest walls in a room –preferably rectangular and totally darkened- where we could only see the intense blue light concentrated in the rope made up with silk. Out from the title light is presented to us as a limit even if we can not visually perceive the rope. Here the space has a significant role as scenic medium, the emotion caused by that atmosphere filled up with resonances is indescribable, and without any reference, the possible meaning depends on what that profound sensation is able to awake in our mind, a sensation which stays with us forevermore. Some were able to relate the unfathomable feeling with Ariadne’s thread; others with the horizon’s line; the rest with a vibrant sound or a simple sign in the dark. Once again the maxim of minimalism: less is more. And also for once, again and always space would reveal itself as main character of his creations; as that phenomenological experience who describes the sensitive look of facts or realities and carries within the becoming of the event. An experience of a double performatic connotation: on one side the experience of construction itself, on the other the experience of the interaction with the receiver.

Lindomar travels through subtle differences on the treatment of space and they may coincide in certain works; but it will always be a subjective and interactive place in direct relation with time and plethoric in sensations.

We can find clarity, the transparent and pure in most of his work, especially in La ilusión de lo contrario (The opposite’s illusion), Blow away and Water set.

La ilusión de lo contrario is the only video-projection Placencia has made up to now, it was displayed in Contemporary Cuban Art Exhibit collateral to Sao Paulo Biennal in 2002. He filmed the fountain located in the courtyard of the Fine Arts National Museum to screen it in reverse throughout the wall of the institution which held the exhibit. On the first place the water spring was the simile to art transmitting freshness, humidity and clarity; on the other hand a comparison to the inverted image of a photo negative was giving us his concept of art, played before on the title, as something different from reality, as a reflex, as an illusion.

Blow away is a bathtub of 170 x 90 cm built with 300 kg of translucent soap and fill up with 215 liters of water in a direct reference to cleanliness and purification but also the changes in all that exists, in this case, those related to the process of the slow destruction of both substances interacting between themselves and with the environment. Soap and water are contradictory elements by nature, expressing the impermanence by themselves and the space as recipient and experience in itself. This work was very clear in the reference of time and its transforming function, came to be extremely attractive and tempted enough to touch it.

In Water set the artist turns back into the space as recipient, a photo series of fine crystal glasses which refer to the transparency of the container; it may be a proposal of relation between the transparency of the container, such of the water and also the one we need from the artist and its confessions: a sui generis metaphor of art shown as the content of that translucent reservoir which ends up classified and placed in a certain site ignoring its broader meaning and destiny. This is another space no longer physical but invented to unleash a pertinent idea.

We find in Dimension of the emptiness, with its enough suggestive title, a number apprehended in a small transparent gap in the center of a large snowed glass plate. The three-dimensional area of the dark basement where the work is located is condensed in those digits. The shadows of the curious observers were reflected by the lighted plate, they were trying to peek through the transparent area of the crystal perhaps searching for something tangible in that utmost abstraction, in that concentrated energy in such a deserted place, in that physical and thought space, in that own and necessary place revisited all over his work. In this case, as well as in El hombre invisible (Invisible man) drawings he advice the spectator of a certain perspective leading his look and making him face reality, more to the inside and less to the outside throughout the contraries: space-void, place-no-place, physical value-abstract value. At the end, another room of interaction with the observer which he will develop later in a more dynamic and practical way in his work Lobby, exhibited in the Hispano-American Cultural Centre during the last Havana’s Biennale (2006) by proposing an audience action by means of the web.

The existentialist substratum displayed in Cuban art throughout its history is another remarkable element in Placencia’s work, something we discover in a subtle way in his five blood drawings of the series Desgarraduras (Rends). Based on the texts of Emile M. Ciorán this set becomes a kind of brutal scream in the photos and exhibit named oneself with emphasis on the concepts of limits and impossibility already discussed in Velo. As well as it happens in the actual work of many young big artists it’s quite interesting to find in this piece Velo a series of walls and grilles and other symbols contaminating the fields of personal feeling, thoughts about art and the harshness of the context. We can see the same existential aspect on his first work The invisible man; four drawings made with white pencil showing us the urge felt by every artist to be noticed and acknowledged, like a call to attention upon the lack of acknowledgment or promotion. In contradiction, this can only be seen by a person standing in the right place to perceive the outlines of the character revealed by the lateral incidence of light on the paper. As a result another game of ambivalence: Space thought in two dimensions –supported by the persistent gloating in perceptions, that statement from minimalism working as conceptual and leading premise- which unleashes multiple interpretations. The “invisible” drawings where placed in the half-light perhaps to achieve a more individual and discreet encounter with the artist; in Placencia’s work everything starts off from the intimacy and the inner need, from his conflicts.

Following the line of this series of portraits previously offered to us and from the negativity implicit in the title Prevent to be we find another projection of existence in a work in which this letters were glass-blowers and placed in the glass door of the lobby of the once Cultural Spain’s Center; glass over glass and a sentence which could be unnoticed or be discovered by accident in another urgent call only surpassed in drama by oneself.

The artistic career of Placencia is a result of a meticulous work with dramatic and sensorial elements full of ideas of a profound existential content, the demonstration of an interesting speech on art and an obsessive search for legitimization and a place in universe. Given the sensorial nature of the mediums he uses and the transcendent human issue, these works will not pass by unnoticed for long and, fortunately, in spite of living in times of silence and alienation for this kind of artistic experience who leads us into reflection, Lindomar Placencia will find the room he deserves in Cuban’s Arts History.

Room as a living enclosure
Liana Río Fitzsimmons
Curator of the Havana´s Museum of Modern Art