Painting is young Cuban artist Niels Reyes’ preferred form of expression because from the moment he started his studies at Cuba’s Instituto Superior de Arte—the country’s top higher education arts institute—painting captivated him.
“I’ve always been very inclined towards painting. I like making things with my own hands, things that don’t require a lot of production and don’t depend on other people,” he said in an exclusive interview with Cubaplus.
“I paint faces because that lets me really hit the viewer with the facial expressions I capture in my work, and it’s also a pretext for developing forms of language that I express through painting,” he explains.
Niels describes himself as a “thief of expressions” as he’s always observing people’s faces so that he can later reflect on canvas what he has perceived.
Faces, not portraits, define his work. “A lot of the time when I start painting,” he says, “ I’m basing myself in reality, but sometimes I forget the model and start experimenting.” “My work is based on a lot of abstraction that comes together to form something imagined, and it’s related to styles like action painting and expressionism.”
Asked about his forays into other art forms he mentions sculptures, performances and installations but insists that he prefers painting. That is the reason he devotes himself entirely to painting.
Niels has shown his work in numerous exhibitions in and outside Cuba. Paintings of his can be found in museums and private collections in twenty-four different countries across the globe, among them the collections of Steven Coen in the USA and Helga Sonnanini in Zürich, Switzerland. He has also won many prizes for his work, among them the Post It competition in 2013, a contest that promotes young artists.
“I consider myself part of a new generation of Cuban painters” he concludes, “that came on the scene with a show entitled Bla Bla Bla in 2008. That exhibition really allowed us to demonstrate a revamped style of painting.”