José Ángel Nazabal: Funny and wicked people

Any learning, whether personal, cultural, humanist nature, it always happens, no matter if you want or not, by the philyer of eroticism, of insinuation, of flirting, of rapprochement. What result in, without a doubt, the risky search for that unruly object of fleeing desire. All of the ways are subject (always) to that desperate thirsty for etoticism/otherness which follows the satisfaction as the only way of being in this world.

Rata de Costa, 2019 (Técnica Mixta, Tinta Sobre Papel y Arte Digital)
Rata de Costa, 2019 (Mixed Media, Ink on Paper and Digital Art)

From this he knows, and much, the work of the young and beautiful Cuban artist, José Ángel Nazabal. His proposal is tremendously beautiful and seductive in which the subversive and destabilizing element is not located in the crude answer or in the barricade of hatred and opposition; but, and better than all this, in the irrevocable power of seduction. Seduction is the throwing weapon of all this work.

Doesn’t the validation of these other matters matter more than the infinite circulation of those proposals that only reproduce the common places subject to the official-alternative binomial?

In a country like Cuba, where some time ago art saw its emancipatory strategies disappear and the artists agreed within the dynamics imposed by power structures, Nazabal‘s work raises his voice, timidly and beautifully, to face the challenge of a new emancipation and very other subversive mechanisms. Those who see in the delirious and furtive eros the greatest enemy against all kinds of totalitarianism and exclusion. Eroticism, therefore, broadens its palliative and persuasive dimension to disallow the regime of the dominant gaze.

POSTQUEER, 2019 (Técnica Mixta, Tinta Sobre Papel y Arte Digital)
POSTQUEER, 2019 (Mixed Media, Ink on Paper and Digital Art)

We are told that art must be social and political; that is, revulsive and provocative, interpellant and digressive. And I wonder about the easy-going, often relaxed and impoverishing kind of art (or that kind of proposal), compared to that other one that – from the hedonism not spared from visuality – becomes the legitimate space of representation of all types of lateral subjectivity.

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Is not a proposal relevant that substantiates the value of that voice so often banned and silenced by the system? Doesn’t the validation of these othernesses matter more than the infinite circulation of those proposals that only reproduce the common places subject to the official-alternative binomial? The recent history of Cuban art is saturated, to the limits of the vomitive and the spooky, examples of the latter.

¿En Serio Mijito, 2019 (Técnica Mixta, Tinta Sobre Papel y Arte Digital)
¿En Serio Mijito, 2019 (Mixed Media, Ink on Paper and Digital Art)

Nazabal, in an exercise as cynical as honest and disconcerting, displaces the image of the hero making the world to address the urgency of these other realities of a national subject that proclaims the camp posture, concerted transvestism and hyperbolized cosmetics as permanence strategies and of resistance in a culture where, in spite of, the power of the phallus and the monogamous and reproductive hetero-patriarchal matrix is ​​dimensioned. His work refers me to the license and debauchery of the carnival, to the dramaturgy of black cinema, to comedy and his self-confidence, the musical in its multiplication of mirrors, to the comic, to the orgy of mortals that – like me – burn in the instant of satisfaction the whole life. That is why his iconography, far from contravening humanism so proclaimed, so carried and brought in the name of nothing, expands its borders and makes it clear, to the rage and scandal of many, that I, too, painted my nails.

On days when you reflect so much on the relevance of speeches inscribed in the field of consummated (also profitable) alterities, racial, queer, feminism (radical or not), ethno-subversive, post-colonial or de-colonial in parallax, it would be for the critics of rigor to shift their gaze from those enclaves already converted into comfort zones and merely rhetorical chattering areas to examine other proposals that, in their same humility and denseness, are container -per se- of subversive impulses. Frivolity (depending on and how) is also often scandalous.

Entretente en Otra Cosa, 2019 (Técnica Mixta, Tinta Sobre Papel y Arte Digital)
Entretente en Otra Cosa, 2019 (Mixed Media, Ink on Paper and Digital Art)

We all agree to accept, assume and problematize the character and the polyhedral nature of Cuban art and its thrust areas. However, the aforementioned does not exempt Cuban critics and the debate about the art of Cuba, from incurring, to this day in the unbearable perpetuation of zones and spaces of silence. I discover proposals like that of this artist, and many others, who suffer from a terrible (and unjustified) critical orphanhood. I think it is time to shed the appropriate blindness, myopia (in) timely and, if possible, trace other narratives and other maps of knowing about a reality as rich as it is changing.

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José Ángel Nazabal is, among other things, a master in the domain of the line and in the arbitration of color. His pieces are of scandalous freshness. I look at them and provoke in me, with the same intensity and thickness, excitement and tenderness. Their surfaces become wet, recite the verses of desire, ready the whisper and the groan as a great ellipsis. His virtuosity for characterization and portraiture is surprising. With just a few strokes he is able to build a scene that tells, from the mechanisms of the insinuation, thousands of stories. Something fascinates me about his work and it is that ability to generate a state of suspense. In each scene it seems that something is about to happen or that some event took place. These assume the vertigo of the hormone and refer to it by force majeure of the contrasts.

Pipa Ponte Pa Esto, 2018 (Acuarela sobre Cartulina)
Pipa Ponte Pa Esto, 2018 (Watercolor on card)

As I always say, I will have to come back, with time and with great desire (those that I do not lack), on this proposal of yours, to unravel other possible areas of interpretation and reading. Meanwhile, I stay here, in the company of a delicious glass of wine, enjoying the provocation contained in this great altarpiece of beings, desires and things.

An image that turned me on like never before…

Todo lo Profundo Ama el Disfraz, 2018 (Técnica Mixta, Tinta Sobre Papel y Arte Digital)
Todo lo Profundo Ama el Disfraz, 2018 (Mixed Media, Ink on Paper and Digital Art)



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