This article by S. Conde appeared in E-Art Internationale.
Born in Havana, Andres’ earliest memories are of visiting his father in prison. Conde’s father was a political prisoner who served seven years in Castro’s jails. His release came after sustaining critical injuries, rendering him useless to the state. Afterward, the family acquired visas to Spain, and with a few gold Spanish coins swallowed by the Conde patriarch before leaving the island, they were able to rent an apartment in Madrid, where the family lived for two years, making the best of a difficult situation, earning their daily bread by selling sandwiches outside the Plaza de Toros.
It was in Madrid where Andres was first exposed to the art world and the amazing architecture of a centuries old city. The family went from Cuba to Spain, then Spain to New York. “The sharp contrast of my impoverished Cuba with the splendor of Spain, overwhelmed my senses. It seemed master sculptors and painters created the entire city of Madrid just for my delight. After arriving in New York, I found a different kind of wonderful, where buildings touched the clouds, and modern works replaced the old masters. I discovered shiny colored spray paint was used instead of sable brushes and pigments. New York is where I fell in love with pop art. I learned from innovators, such as Lichtenstein and Warhol, whose paintings hung in galleries. I admired Haring’s works in the subway tunnels, as my friends and I were throwing pieces up on every bit of blank wall we could find”, says Conde.
“Eventually we settled in Miami, like many other Cubans. …so close and yet so far. I find the bright colors of Miami’s evening sky, tropical setting, and mix of my native Cuba’s culture with that of my adoptive mother America’s, comforting”, remarks Mr. Conde.
Conde’s series “Icons : The New Idols of The Tribe” is a striking combination of the old and new worlds, the contrast of which so moved the artist in his youth. He plays with images from popular culture transposed with traditional Catholic iconography, as well as the philosophical concept, The Idols Of The Tribe, put forth by Sir Francis Bacon regarding man’s understanding of truth or reason. Bacon, argues that we, the tribe, are often incapable of reason as our own preconceived notions interfere with pure reason, while Conde holds that there is nothing “pure”, all is touched by an individuals preconceived notions in the form of his or her will. “Ultimately”, says Conde, “…reality is perception, and if a member of the tribe believes it to be true, then it is, at least in their own mind, which is really all that matters.” These new idols painted with fresh faces on ancient archetypes represent the popular will and new religion of cinema and celebrity. Each of the figurative paintings in the group is marked with one of the wounds of Christ and mixed with a drop of the artist’s own blood. “…to signify the pain and suffering every artist goes though in the creative process.” “Besides,” jokes Conde, “it’ll be easier to identify my work after I’m dead.”
Andres Conde fixates on the beauty of the human body, and the expressive nature of the face. His goal is to portray the dichotomy of strength and vulnerability in people, especially women, as this combination, “…moves me deeply.”
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