Jorge Perugorría is an intrinsically audiovisual being. The actor, director and painter adds a fourth axis to his creative life - music – which, in his own words, “has always been present in my life (...) and has been a source from which I have fed, not only with rhythms and melodies, but also with poetry, humor, and ideas”.1
This confession helps us understand his evident preference as a director for the melodic world. He has done significant work on documentaries and video clips, with the emotional and explosive temperamental character of his extensive pictorial and installationist productions, not to mention his histrionic methods, by which he is widely known and recognized as the most universal Cuban male face of Spanish-American contemporaneity, distinguished by a vibrant intensity.
With a background in theater and television experience in the 1980s and early 1990s, his sudden jump to fame followed Fresa y chocolate (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío, 1993). This work, in addition to relaunching Cuban cinema at a new international level, revealed its protagonist as an organically solid actor, with a chameleonic ability to open up and have deep conversations with the characters.
Since then, with more than forty feature films to his credit, Perugorría has performed in a number of movies under the direction of Spaniards such as Bigas Lunas, Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón and Felix Viscarret, in addition to Brazilian Ruy Guerra, Chileans Miguel Littín and Luis Sepúlved, and the Venezuelan-American Betty Kaplan. He always alternated with Cuban classics, such as Alea and Tabío, Octavio Cortázar and Fernando Pérez as well as other more contemporary directors like Arturo Sotto.
It this manner, Perugorría finds himself in a different and privileged socio-cultural and artistic situation, as he has always marked his dialogical universality with these diverse Latin American film traditions and modes from a permanence in Cuba, and from a perennial integration to its audiovisual world of the last three decades up to today.
In this way, he has an almost utopian singularity that transcends conflicts and disputes based on limited conceptions of nationality and loyalty to the native country. For, to paraphrase José Martí, “the love for the soil that our plants tread is not ridiculous as long as it does not constitute a tight shackle that prevents the comings and goings throughout the world; nor does prevent one to expand this love to other places”.
That being said, one can guess that Perugorría’s music mirrors the omnipresent universality he claims to live his life by. It is not by chance that one of his paintings is titled Sosteniendo la Utopía (Upholding Utopia, 2009).
Perugorría doesn’t like working with just one type of expression. As he has said, his reunion with the visual arts was experienced during the filming of Volavérunt, by Bigas Luna, where he played the painter Francisco de Goya, and during breaks he would doodle sketches on the script.
The present aesthetic and conceptual lines of his painting received an accolade during the recording of the documentary Santiago y la Virgen en la Fiesta del Fuego, codirected with Angel Alderete.
His extensive pictorial work, which he signs as Gorría, is conscious and, the artist admits, is a confluence of aesthetic and conceptual references mainly of a Cuban nature, such as the ‘avant-garde’ Wifredo Lam, to whose works he dedicates pieces such as the series Chivo que rompe tambó…
Amelia Peláez also surfaces in the creative area in which Perugorría prefigures imaginary ‘windows’, looking out to bits of Cuba condensed to sea and walls.
There are Ventana de Amelia, Dos orillas (azul) y (negro), and the Ventanas y Maleconadas series. René Portocarrero can also easily be identified by the baroque representation of urban structures, the fruit of dialogue and the loving obsession with Havana, in series such as Monumentos que habitan en mi memoria, Arquitectura de la memoria, and the Reflejos pieces…Atardecer en Santa Fe, Andamios de la ciudad, among others.
He has alternated this career with film production that transcends numerous genres such as documentary, video and fiction feature films, with three titles under his name: Afinidades (2010), Se vende (2012), and Fátima o el Parque de la Fraternidad (2015).
Note 1. Navarro, Wendy: Interview with the artist about the Muros exhibition at the CajAstur Cultural Hall, Campoamor Theater, Oviedo, Asturias. Catalog of the exhibition. May-June 2009.