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For Puentes, painting is primary in the seeking of understanding what is beyond the everyday. Ideas and questions about why humans continue to hurt each other across time and place emerge in the painterly process. Graduations and transitions of rich and deep colors and a purposeful distortion of human forms evoke the anxiety of transcendence and unresolved conflict. For Puentes, there is a recall of personally experienced lack of freedom of expression. There is always the seeking of understanding why humans hurt others in his creative process. The tools, materials, techniques of painting are primary parts of his expressive journey. Transcendence is core to the meaning and images.
Exaggerated but realistic human figures speak to us through which personal language of skin bathed in contrasting light and pierced with incoming and exiting pain and conflict. Distant light and deep rich tones transfer our view from our present to a time and place in the image. Color is a powerful visual language tool in the storytelling images across his series where the endless tragedy of the human experience advances, recedes, never resolves and carry us to what might be next. The blurred edges of actuality and perception appear as real. There are no visual clues through juxtaposition or geometric dissection and abstraction.
The 15th century Europe extremes of social upheaval hate, hurt, emotions and failure to resolve social and religious conflicts emerged as images by the New-Expressionists to boldly speak of the inner and outer violence, and the unpleasant. The artists sought to depict the subjective emotions and arouse emotions within the viewers of their art. The exaggeration and distorted human forms caused us to see the conflict of the time in new ways instead of the ideals. Stirring emotions of unresolved conflicts was a goal of the artisans of the Neo-Expressionist and Expressionist periods.
Expressionism began in Germany in the 20th century as a response by artists to the increasing discordant relationship within their world. Expressionism’s classic period was 1905- 1920 and spread across all of Europe and America. People lost touch with, and feelings in, spirituality. It was the symbolist currents in the art of Vincent Van Gogh and Edward Munch that greatly impacted Expressionism. It was James Ensor that most influenced visual art with his distortion of forms visualized through powerful colors in his paintings. They expressed and conveyed anxiety,
lack of resolution and the continually seeking understanding. The early 20th century Expressionist style of images significantly influenced artists of the 1980’s and is appearing again in the early part of 21st century. Perhaps it is because Expressionism expects the artist to reveal in images their personal meaning from deep within the self. The revelation of the artists’ feelings, social commentary and emotions are primary. Through the art making process, the art and artist presented becomes a powerful face of social criticism.
In 2010 Abisay Puentes immigrated to the USA from Cuba with his family to open the door to freedom and personal determination. That includes his studio in Syracuse, New York. From early childhood to present his images are powerful portrayals of events and human conditions that he lived and of social concerns for which he seeks understanding. The distorted human forms and rich colors in dynamic transitions define his personal style and visual language. Transcendence is the core of his meanings and images. Impossible and Possible are obvious scenarios in cyclic patterns across his series, asking why do we continue to hurt each other?
Educated as a child to become a musician at Seminario Batista de La Habana, he rejected music in favor for visual art. He attended the prestigious San Alejandra Art Academy. Successful study at the National Academy of Art met direct opposition to his religious devotions. Forced dismissal under the anti-religious government laws ended his formal training. He continued on his own to evolve a personal style while studying museum collections of paintings. From this study and dedication, to study work, comes the series The Apocalypse of Abisay, Lamentations of Abisay and Imposibilitados. With time the paintings are growing scale, the seeking is advancing in more complex stories hinting at understanding. His rich visual language advances into varied tones and hues, new pigments and more diverse perspectives and settings. The lush and rich painterly marks deliver more perceived and actual textures. Orchestrated music returns to his personal creative process and relate to paintings to engage the viewers to see and feel the pains, concerns, and emotions of life. Poetic expression follows music, follows painting.
Barrett Art Gallery,
Utica College, NY 2013