The austerity of formal language and the use of minimal, essential resources make Rafael San Juan’s sculptures an organic and coherent body of work within the contemporary Cuban art scene.
He is not influenced by minimalism like some of the best current artists, nor by neo-conceptualism like many among of the new generations of Latin American artists.
On the contrary, his pieces flirt with classical traditions and the expressionist heritage of the 20th century without leaning one way or the other. We are in the presence of work that is balanced, fair, singular, that emphasizes the interior and spiritual aspects of man from his anatomical, visceral side, as a metaphor of broad emotional resonances and meanings of an intellectual and social order.
Relying on the human body as the central axis in many of his pieces, San Juan launches us into vast regions of the public and the external, that today feel suffocated by the speed, haste and stress of modern life. The artist undresses the man so that we observe his less visible sides, especially his heart, at the same time drawing attention to the singular energy, passion and force transmitted by other organs and extremities such as the torsos and limbs.
He does not hesitate to demonstrate his mastery of traditional forms and materials in the conventional way, techniques little exploited today in the wake of the rise of new technologies that supplant that aura inherent to the condition of the artist. San Juan’s aesthetic discourse is based on a clear representation--recognizable, decodable for most viewers- -that not only translates into sculptural modulations but also into installations capable of shaping a tense and reflexive atmosphere in the exhibition space.
If the emotion transmitted were not enough, Rafael San Juan sometimes also appeals via a subtle religious spirit to the rational, as another determining factor in his discourse, since both poles influence and have always influenced any authentic work that seeks to bring what humans produce closer to the vital human experience.
In other work, San Juan appropriates nature to reflect on the deterioration it suffers indiscriminately at the hands of man. Sometimes he creates interventions out in natural spaces, living verdurous spaces, like a call to action urging us to reunite with nature for good.
That is why his universe of concerns goes beyond the individual to reach higher social and cultural concerns, maintaining at the same time the particular formal coherence that his different formats and mediums bring, because a common thread unites them, interweaving them conceptually and aesthetically.
Rafael San Juan’s artistic trajectory shows a tight balance between ideological purposes and aesthetic results, between concept and matter, between content and form.