He turns art into a social phenomenon. Through drawing, photography, installation and performance art, this Cuban artist reassesses and restructures cultural patterns and social relationships. His critical proposal emerges from historical, political and social reality.
He didn’t choose art as a means of expression, the art chose him and for as long as he can remember, he has been immersed in that creative world that is now his life. Jesús Hdez Güero was born in Havana, Cuba in 1983, but since 2011 he has lived and worked between Venezuela and Cuba. He studied visual arts in the Academy of San Alejandro and also in the University of Arts of Cuba (Instituto Superior de Arte, ISA), which are both institutions in his home country. Today, he is part of the Taller de Artistas Gráficos Asociados, TAGA, in Caracas. His creation process as an artist arose from conceptual intuition, fluidity and precision in regards to technique; however, little by little, that intuition gradually turned into a much more conscious, rational and critical practice. His artistic concerns stopped being as technical in order to become very conceptual facts, loaded with social and political representations.
The artist’s awareness of power, violence and memory, he states, is linked to the fact that he was born in a country that was a victim of politicization, memories immersed in time and psychological violence as the main concepts of a discourse of power which is difficult to break away from when it comes to restructuring patterns of a social reality through art. Paradoxically, the country that now embraces him as an artist, Venezuela, is an extension and continuation of experiences that have made him sensitive when he carries out conceptual creative processes which he uses to try to, in his words, “historicize what historicizes us.” This means conceptualizing how time, reality and the history of living contexts have been narrated.
Those contexts are, in fact, the catalysts in his work. They are the center of all his artistic concerns and the foundation of all his visual discourses. This artist’s work wouldn’t be possible without that dose of reality that we consume on a daily basis in social and political media which are part of it. Pieces like Las armas no matan, Capital sin nombre, Mil noticias y un performance, are perfect examples of visual pieces that start from socio-political contexts which undoubtedly touch the most sensitive fibers of humanity. At least in some viewers, the narrative in his exhibitions create diverse reactions; discomfort, questions, non-conformity, repudiation and instability; and in other cases, they create dialogues, reflection, intrigue, anecdotes and –paradoxically in children– a little bit of joy and fun (particularly in the piece Las armas no matan) which due to the materials (bullet casings) when facing a child’s innocence, don’t represent anything more than a game.
This is precisely the main objective of this creative agitator of established conventions and powerful ideas which are born from the mediums and materials that he uses. Said materials are, in fact, the bearers of his content; they bear a psychological, cultural, social and political charge that moves his viewers. A banknote, for example, in Jesús’ work isn’t just a banknote, a newspaper isn’t just a newspaper, a bullet casing isn’t just a bullet casing, the image of a gun (made with gun powder on canvas), isn’t just the image of a gun. All the elements present in his work are feelings, they are issues, they are violence, they are expressions, symbols of nations and debris of forgotten stories. His means of expression are therefore platforms of communication and evidence of the contradictions and hidden messages in a not so transparent society.
Inspired by the simplicity of things, mankind’s complexities, difficulties, contradictions and social discomforts, Jesús Hdez Güero has managed to make an impact both within and outside his national context. Curiously, Venezuela has turned out to be an ideal stage to try and show issues as complicated as civil rights and the control of information, which are subjects and pieces that, at times, were censored in his own country; meanwhile, to Venezuelan viewers, his work has spurred reactions that paradoxically arise from interest and sensitivity for “everything Cuban”, thus creating a relational artistic experience between two nations which, in one way or another, share the same paths.
In faraway lands, this Cuban artist has succeeded in encapsulating issues that no one dares to tackle without being obvious. He has succeeded in moving and even upsetting viewers with proposals that are constantly changing, just like society does. By letting himself be swept away, Hdez Güero complies with the demands of his ideas, constructive ideas for artistic work which, according to him, is “politically imperfect”. But wouldn’t politically perfect be more accurate?