Agustín Bejarano opened his most recent exhibition, Landscape, at Galería Habana in Havana, Cuba. The exhibit, which offers an ecological perspective, is part of a larger environmentalist exhibition now about to travel through Spain and the United States. Landscape, he says, is “a reflexive approach to [a] nature impoverishment because of man’s apathy.” A book on Bejarano’s work is also expected to be launched in the US in 2011.
He chose the word “Landscape” in English to “widen the meaning the term has in Spanish.” Cuba Now reports that it is linked to the artist’s previous exhibition Los ritos del silencio [Rites of Silence]. In a previous exhibition, Sedimentos [Sediments], he also focused on concerns about man and the environment.
In the article “Agustín Bejarano: I Do Not Create Hedonist Landscapes,” the artist explains: “As I show in my works, man is not always seen. Sometimes he disappears and gives place to symbols such as smoke, bonfires, where you can imagine there’s a person in the scene.” He places the emphasis on “how tiny we are in relation to such a problem” and opposes anthropocentric interpretations: “We think we are the center of the universe but it’s the other way around, nature is the center of everything.” When man is visible in his painting, she/he appears in miniatures in relation to the context. Bejarano often uses unconventional materials such as resin, plastic, sugar cane bagasse, and fiber glass in his quest to make humans appear as tiny beings to show that they are “immersed in a bigger world.”
“My challenges as an artist have never been plain nor made without thinking” because “in the end I have a responsibility and a desire to have an interesting dialogue” with the spectators. Bejarano stresses that his landscape style refuses hedonism or market success. “The public can find pessimistic elements but at the same time optimistic ones; the color; the provoked and insidious cracks that characterize my work and support the dramatic dialogue I propose, to make emphasis on that kind of reflection on nature.” [Also see his painting “Triste oficio isleño” in previous post Agua bendita: New Book on Cuban Art.]
Bejarano, born in 1964 in Camaguëy, began his art education at the age of 12 at the Escuela Elemental de Artes Plásticas in his hometown. At the age of 16 he entered the ENA art academy and completed his studies at ISA in Havana. After his graduation in 1989 he became founder and head of the Graphic Workshop of Camaguëy. Since 1993 he teaches at the ISA in Havana. His works participated at 185 expositions in 23 countries. They are in 9 museum collections and received 24 awards.
For more information, see http://www.cubanow.net/pages/articulo.php?sec=21&t=2&item=8789
Photo and additional information on the artist from http://www.avantarte-cuba1.com/catalog3/art_09_c_en.php and http://www.cmbfradio.cu/cmbf/Noticias/actualidad/actualidad_000000000000000000000000000000000000000021.html