The Incomparable Hallmark of Moisés Finalé
By: Mireya Castañeda
The work of Moisés Finalé has a poetic element that makes it immediately recognizable. However, every piece is different and always surprising, although all feature his baroque compositions, chromatic eclosions, use of light and novel techniques.
Finalé (Cárdenas, Cuba, 1957) is one of the most emblematic representatives of the so-called “1980's boom,” an important transition period, both formally and conceptually, in the Cuban visual arts.
He has lived in Paris since 1989, and since his “return” to Havana in 2003 with his retrospective exhibition, “Herido de sombras” (Wounded by Shadows), at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, he has come back six times, with the exhibitions Dulzuras insulares (Insular sweetnesses), Doble realidad (Double reality), Simulacres atypiques (Atypical shams), Turista cubano o Problemas de identidad (Cuban tourist or Identity problems), El peso de su cuerpo (The weight of the body), and above all, Se fueron los 80 (The 80s are gone).
The La Acacia gallery is the host of his most recent exhibition in Havana (March 2013), and he agreed to meet with Cubaplus in his workshop in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana to talk about his show and other aspects of his work.
They are large-format pieces…
“About 40 pieces, in large format, very recent work; others I made during my previous trip, and some are representative of previous exhibitions. The paintings now go further than two-dimensional, and foray into volume. They have elements incorporated, and are not just painted conventionally on the canvas; instead, there are also structures, objects, sculptures and metals.”
Since your return in 2001 and your exhibition at the Bellas Artes, you have exhibited five more times in Havana…
“Since 2003, I have come more often to Havana. The reason is to work here in a context that is different from working in my French studio, and based on that, I think that a lot of things change, through ideas and motivations. Just by being here and working, things happen differently. I'm not going to compare paintings. They are different moments in an artist's work; the spaces are different, the studio is different, and the circumstances are different.”
Could you tell us about your creative process?
“The creative process advances with the advance of the years, as I advance in age, and as my life motivations change. The process begins with analysis, the search for an idea or theme. For example, with Se fueron los 80s, I began looking for something that was latent among young people and Cubans, and every time I was in an interview or with friends, the subject of the 80s would come up, one way or another: ‘They were so good,’ as if everybody were still in the 80s, even in the way they dressed. That really struck me. From then on I began my searching, and the idea was to motivate a public, so that they would give me objects—I called them relics—from the 80s for some boxes, and to my surprise, the quantity of objects from the 80's that people had tucked away was impressive. That collection was like an awakening, and I got really interested, and felt really good when I saw that people were interested in the exhibition, and that the public was motivated.
“Then there's the parallel part of trying to experiment and work in a more contemporary way, if you can talk about being contemporary in traditional forms of painting. I approach my work through new materials, different resources, sometimes paint or acrylic, to talk about traditional things; I think that the way the canvases are used and the things I do are totally different from what is traditional, and one way or another it is what motivates the spectator, and it is why the public follows my exhibitions.”
Search and experimentation are two terms that are very closely associated with your work…
“I think that right now it is what interests me the most. I consider my work to be contemporary, avant-garde, my own; in short, let the critics and public decide. Personally, I've though that my work is that of a very solitary artist, because in the end, I do not fit into any artistic tendency or avant-garde movement, even though I am very much up to date on what is happening in international art. I wouldn't want to be influenced, either, by any of those large exhibitions that I see or those artists that I know. The main objective is always to try to create work that has a Finalé hallmark; work that does not respond to anybody, or any movement, and that people can identify as a pure Finalé.”
That's right, your painting is perfectly recognizable…
“That hallmark comes from the 80s. Just by chance, I began to appropriate a way of drawing, a figuration that responded to the way I am. It is like a stamp; nobody else makes that type of drawing or form. Those masked women, those men/women who mingle together, the tonalities; that same experimentation causes people to recognize the work as my work. It is a figuration that comes from the 80s and continues to change. Sometimes I go along appropriating or re-appropriating my own figuration. It is a term that vanguardists really like—appropriation, which comes from all of that postmodern art. I re-appropriate moments that I made and I give them a new form, but always playing with the fact that it is my work; that is, there are changes, but it's me.”
We can always talk to you about innovations…
“In France I am using metal sheets, I give them form. I am making pieces that are practically all metal, where neither canvas nor paint appear. It's still twodimensional, but all metal.”
What other projects are you working on?
“I'm going to hold a large exhibition in Haiti, a place that really attracts me. I feel very close to that country, because of its culture and its people. I think that the exhibition in Haiti will come after the exhibition in Havana, and then Germany and other projects for this year that I need to add to the calendar.”
Moisés Finalé is a maestro, a creator in the strict sense of the word. Neither artistic tendencies nor avant-garde movements, much less “what's selling now,” influence his work. Without having to come close enough to read the signature, one can look at his work and fearlessly say, that's a Finalé, because it bears his incomparable hallmark.