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Ofill Echevarría. 11:00 am, 2013. Oil on canvas. 43 x 61 in. (109 x 155 cm.).

Solo Show
Ofill Echevarría

ArtNexus #89 - Arte en Colombia #135
Jun - Aug 2013

Mexico City, Mexico
Galería Alfredo Ginocchio

Madeline Izquierdo de Campos

In April of 2013, Cuban artist Ofill Echevarría presented in Mexico the exhibition entitled Momentum. To approach Echevarría’s art it becomes necessary to conceptualize his poetic based on a temporal section of his work that places iconographies at its core defined by their conceptual intentions, given that his discourse always reflects on mass events and, in a more general sense, on society.

Since Echevarría currently lives in New York, it would be prudent to take into account those signs of transmodern society found in his work. In this sense, his works are compelling for rendering an urban architecture that forces its inhabitants to move in anonymous groups. These are the expulsive, unfriendly, spaces defined by French anthropologist Marc Augé as non-places that mark a profile of non-identity.

It is possible that Echevarría’s gaze as an emigrant—like other artists working on similar themes, as is the case of Cuban Alexandre Arrechea—attract his interest toward themes that are rarely followed by the locals who participate in that overwhelming expansion of these temporal spaces where people do not exchange smiles or words. A non-place is a highway, a motel room, an airport, a supermarket. No matter the place, it is a place of loneliness, indifference, a temporal place to achieve goals and to learn how to coexist by maintaining an anonymous presence.

Echevarría’s goal is offering and conjuring up testimonies. One can seldom discern in his images the identity of a place. They fade in his painting as they favor the role a subject sheathed by a symbolic tyranny of costumes and accessories that render him monotonous and programmed.

The artist represents anonymous groups or personalities to whom he steals a moment of their lives. They dwell in multifamily buildings cohabited by people who, with a sense of the phantasmagorical, make us summarize their lives under the term of similar identities.

In Echevarría’s palette the use of ranges of blacks, grays and whites are predominant and their use impact the thematic allusions present in each work. These are pictorial images that blur the story line and the—almost always denotative—titles that shape a narrative of now. Semantic strategies can be noticed in titles that, along with the images, provide metaphorical allusions and mark the present moment: that is to say that they do not refer to a before or an after.

Echevarría constructs a strong dialectic of visual events. It is about approaching the visual text—work—as the subject and the title as predicate, through a process that, once completed, is inverted to generate meaning.

One must then assess the discourses in the texts as part of a creative event: Identity None (2012), Doors (2012), Progression (2012) and Center View (2012), among others. These are titles that are converging to interpret that which is represented through a subject, the anonymous location of the space-city.

From the artistic point of view, the work draws from the tradition of photography, documentary film and painting, which can be appreciated in different accents, renaissance perspectives, expressionist theater drama, surreal ghostly visions, visual liberations that bring it closer to abstraction, and chromatic restrictions marked tensions reminiscent of Malevich’s Suprematism.

A highlight of the exhibition is the accompanying book-catalog published by Alfredo Ginocchio Gallery, home of the exhibition presented by Ofill Echevarría. It includes relevant art criticism studies by experts Carol Damian, Emilio García-Montiel and Alejandro Robles. Also included in the edition are a significant number of photographs of Echevarría’s work that allow for a richer understanding of his work.

It should be noted that this strategy of bringing together the exhibition and the book-catalog is a way to value the artist, as any narrative about the artwork articulates his membership in Cuban or international art scene.

The different accents by the experts contribute to providing an aesthetic, artistic and cultural-historic balance that may serve to generate further reflection from other scholars and the general public, in order to approach the work with new discourses that corroborate Echevarría’s maturity of a visual artist and the cultural derivations of his work, as a socially constituted value.



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