Liesther Amador: desire for experimentation
BY CARY QUINTANA
Various artistic practices are reflected in the creative production of Liesther Amador. His shifting manifestos between paintings, photographs, performances, drawings, installations and interventions, denote the constant exploration and experimentation in the career of this artist, who refused to be pigeonholed. He is a visual artist.
However, there are issues that remain underlying in his work, backed by certain patterns of an emotional and psychological nature. As a unifying focus, the attachment to roots stands out: family, cultural, historical, even geographical. This component configures a large part of his work, from his time as a student to the most recent pieces.
Francisco Aguilar Barrero, 45. Misael Castillo Verdecia, 32. Yoslandy Esteves Biberón, 39. Jorge Castillo Montero, 49. Finca El Lucero. CCS Manuel Fajardo. San José de las Lajas. Mayabeque. Cuba. 4/10/2018. 7:13 am. The return to the family as the basis and cornerstone of society and of each individual in particular, led him to action in real time. For 60 minutes, the performance consisted in exchanging his breath with his mother, the source of nourishment for his being and his spirit. The event transcends the documentary photography immortalized in Viaje a la semilla.
He delves into the filial line in Mis últimas Venus. The author’s mother and maternal grandmother are presented as ideals of beauty, love, fertility and supreme knowledge. This precedent works as a pedestal in the photographic monuments erected to to the artists maternal figures, which, some years after their creation, become the leitmotif of another sequence of works.
Now, graphite on cutout paper, or acrylic or oil on canvas, complement the preceding photographs. The Paleolithic Venuses, votive representations of fertility, once of prehistoric man, are reinserted as part of conflicting situations. Attributes that were placed in places of worship for ancient deities are reinserted as offerings on the altars of his pieces. Thus, the Venus of Willendorf is his last money box, while the Venus of Laussel wonders if she plays poker or chooses between hell and purgatory.
In the line of history, associated with his ancestry, Liesther Amador visited the Trocha de Júcaro a Morón, a military fortress of the Spanish army that during the 19th century divided the island of Cuba in two. During his journey he carried the mambí machete belonging to his great-great-grandfather, a veteran of the wars for Cuba’s independence against Spanish colonialism in 1895.
In this action, which is polysemic, the self-referential sense is accompanied by the metaphor contained in the title. Liesther becomes the protagonist of Referee, a referee who guides, in his own words, the “product of what I am or what we are as a country”.
In view of these specific examples, it is possible to understand the meaning of identity issues and their roots in the artist’s practice. A set of more current photographs also highlights how much each person’s place of origin is engraved in his or her memory, and does so from a re-reading of pre-established terms, another recurrent feature in Amador’s production. In his words he expresses: “Tiempo muerto in the agricultural culture -particularly in the sugar cane-, is the name given to the period outside of the harvest: cutting, harvesting and artisan or industrial processing of the fruit. This name is a backward step from a neocolonial period where unemployment, the scarce de mand for labor force and the lack of wage protection were synonymous with misfortune among peasants and workers. Paradoxically, this denomination determines the period of planting and cultivation, time of germination, assisted and natural rebirth”.
But Tiempo muerto is more than a catalog of snapshots. In its spectrum it also includes video art, performance and documentary as a source to register testimonies and the whole work process. With this complementarity, the artist intends to build photographic monuments of these individuals in the spaces or places that define them and that they feel are decisive in their lives.
In the series with the same name, the artist “sows” different people in that place where they feel iden- tified, fulfilled, happy... or where perhaps most of their lives have passed. Thus, agricultural workers emerge from the furrows, a sports activist is the fruit of the sand of a baseball stadium and the guide for the ascent of the Monument to José Martí in Pico Turquino, prefers to graft himself next to the Apostle.
With this sequence of documentary photographs, Liesther Amador received, in 2019, the First Prize in the Post-it Competition launched by the Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales and its network of galleries. Immersed in new projects, he recognizes the importance of this distinction for his career, with the maxim of continuing to discover new media, from the sincerity and spontaneity of his artistic work, marked by experimentation.
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