This city is his gallery and the mistreated and discoloured walls are brought back to life by the faces of children, the protagonists of this Cuban city’s past and the guarantee of its future.
Liz Arianna Bobadilla León
The painter Maisel López invites us, in his more than forty murals, to stop, observe, discover light in grey tones and makes his own the verses in a children’s song by the Cuban singer Teresita Fernández, “ To the things that are ugly add a bit of love”.
Walls marked by deterioration, the inclement passing of time and people, become huge canvases for his series of child portraits called ‘Colosos’, which gives a new brightness, a tinge of the present for these forgotten corners, to these spaces that no one turns around to look at. The Cuban Independence Hero José Marti, for whom children are the hope for the world, inspires this painted murals series focused on child portraits, “they are my main inspiration: for this reason I magnify them into the gigantic colossus that they are” says Maisel, in his exclusive for Prensa Latina
Legends are fabricated around his creations, stories, but the protagonists of these gigantic portraits live in the neighbourhood, they are still there, some not so small and innocent now, but they remember the ‘crazy guy’ that took dozens of photos and transformed their face into a point of reference for the capital.
“I started without an objective, when I decided to paint an anonymous photo of a girl from the internet – that had a big impact on the community, and from there I began to look at our own environment, to real people, I asked permission from the parents and from there these giants were born” he explains.
Since 2015, his hyper- realistic imagination has flooded Havana’s streets, to ratify its philosophy; it must be out of the gallery and commercial space, to function as an active entity in the social environment.
“I have done murals in most of the city, and in other provinces such as Mayabeque, Granma and Santiago de Cuba, in these I have left my giants in hospitals, the National Aquarium and other public spaces.”
His positive and reciprocal experience has helped him as an artist, and in these neighbourhoods, he has seen change. “They are thankful to me, it is a way of identifying themselves, and being part of something bigger,” he says.
López alternates equally between canvas and walls, he has a figurative style, focussed on the human body, its seduction, its texture, shapes and expressions, the nuances within his work are with such skill that it is impossible to not feel them, to not be amazed and to not desire to take advantage of a day of inspiration.
Known by many as ‘the child painter’, this runs in parallel with his work as a teacher, he cannot conceive of life without being able to share his knowledge and to succeed in guiding people of different ages in visual arts, to exploit their talent or develop their aesthetic sense as viewers.
A graduate of the San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts, he began his relationship with the world of paintbrushes, colours and canvases when he was small. “I loved drawing, I used to spend hours on this activity, at 14 I entered an arts centre and at 15 I started really painting using professional materials”.
Even the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic has not stopped him, he helps the grandparents – the highest risk group for the virus SARS-Cov-2-. He gives classes via WhatsApp, making self-portraits. The lock-down has been converted into a fertile moment for his personal and professional life.
“Now I have around 60 students in my group, we stay active by creating, exhibiting in Facebook, and in a way we support the lock-down measures by sending our artistic message, showing real life through our work”, tells Maisel.
Moreover, they hope, when the situation passes, to exhibit this work. (PL)
(Traducido por Carol M Byrne – Email: Guerrera247@hotmail.com) – Photos: Pixabay