The Cuban artist is a slave to his art, but he considers his captivity to be a sweet one and feels lucky to exhibit his work in the Vatican and both the Venice and Havana Biennial this May.
Text and Photos: Martha Sánchez
“I will never tell anyone what to think about my work; I paint so that others can think for themselves,” Quintana emphasises.
The artist believes that “with fine arts, it’s an indulgent slavery, as one feels the impulse to paint constantly, every mood, every emotion.”
He will be opening “Quintana pequeño” in Havana, an exhibition consisting of 36 small-sized pieces and new bronze sculptures the size of a softball.
The exhibition forms part of the collateral programme of the XIII International Biennial in Havana, the artist’s native city.
According to the curator Isabel Pérez, all the halls of the Loredan Palace in Venice, home to the Venetian Institute of Science, Letters and the Arts, will exhibit a vast selection of enormous canvases, some measuring more than five metres, in addition to a group of mirrors by Quintana and architectural drawings.
The place will become a kind of workshop from 11 May to 29 July, and the exhibition will be titled “In Finito”.
Quintana says he paints life stories; he believes in the spiritual benefit of art for human beings and advocates for freedom in the interpretation of visual works of art.
His main references are Goya, Picasso and William Turner.
He is fascinated by the first’s so-called Black Paintings, the second’s ability to cover everything masterfully and the third’s watercolours of the fire of the Houses of Parliament which occurred in the first half of the nineteenth century.
From 25 May to 27 July, a Vatican gallery will host a series by Quintana called “The world of truth”, which focuses on architecture and animals, mainly in order to comply with the regulations required by the institution.
He does not invoke the symbols often used by artists in his country, but he does consider himself to be an artist with a strong connection to his homeland and invites us to look for the many references to Cuban culture and roots in his work.
“I’m still a student, I do not think I’m a mature artist, even if others think otherwise2, he says.
“I think that there are so many things that I have not finished doing,” coments this 53-year-old creator, graduate of the Institute of Design and who has exhibited his work in Spain, Panama, Germany, Peru, Italy, Canada, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Venezuela, among others.
Some of Quintana’s pieces can be seen in the national museums for fine arts in Cuba and Panama, the Rubin Museum of Art, in New York; and the Willem Peppler collections from Switzerland; Alin and Diego von Buck from the United Kingdom; Farber from the United States; Gilbert Brownstone from France and Armando Amorim Soares in Portugal.
“Quintana takes his own stories and reinvents and reconstructs them. He is an artist that lives beyond the limits of time and the specific circumstance of the island, who does not use the context or the circumstance in an obvious way as is often seen by other Cuban artists,” said Isabel Pérez.
This year, Quintana will show his work from 26 August to 23 September at the China Art Museum during the 8th Beijing International Art Biennial; then in artistic centres in Miami, Chicago, New York and Cuba. (PL)
(Translated by Lucy Daghorn)