Roberto Diago, his method of working, the day-to-day
BY MERCEDES RAMOS
Day-to-day is how Cuban visual artist Juan Roberto Diago Durruthy defines his work method, with which he has created an infinite number of pieces in more than 20 collections that have been exhibited in countless personal and collective exhibitions in some 25 countries.
Raised in an artistic environment par excellence, this famous painter, sculptor and installer began, one could say, his career at a very young age, when his grandmother ignited his love for art and literature by always talking about his grandfather, the outstanding visual artist Juan Roberto Diago Querol, and of the close relationship between his grandmother Josefina’s father, the prestigious musician José Urfé, and personalities of national culture, among them the painters Fidelio Ponce and Víctor Manuel, the admired musician Bola de Nieve and the notable writer Lezama Lima.
At that time, he began to frequent the Palace of Fine Arts in the Cuban capital, where every Saturday the children painted under the tutelage of various teachers, where he had Mercedes Peñalver and Oscar Molina as teachers, whom he remembers with admiration. He later en rolled in the Paulita Concepción elementary school in El Cerro, Havana, and then went on to the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, where he graduated.
For Diago there are no preferences within the world of artistic creation because he considers that “The visual arts constitute a wide world of expression. I like all the ways to do my work. From painting, installation, photography, engraving..., in short, everything,” he said in an interview with CubaPLUS magazine.
“When it’s time to do something, I take what I have at hand and begin. It’s in the process of creation that new ways of knowing the work begin to emerge. That’s what I enjoy most about creation; the process,” he added. A theme that stands out within his work is his desire to learn about the colonial past of the Caribbean, where the slave had an important role as a social subject.
In this regard, he said that “I am interested in how the past has influenced the present, how we, the descendants of slaves, have suffered discrimination in today’s world. The world has evolved but, unfortunately, a lot of social injustice remains to be eradicated”.
Other themes present in Diago’s work are the love of the landscape and the sea. Regarding the latter, so present in the lives of Cubans because Cuba is an island, he has several sketches in mind, where the sea is the central motif.
Finally, he referred to the current situation of visual arts in the largest of the Antilles and considered that “visual arts in Cuba are adapting to the new social reality. Artists continue to grow professionally. Every year the San Alejandro Academy continues to produce new talent.
In today’s Cuban art, you can see everything. There is a rich variety for all tastes. There are good and bad moments, but art and artists reinvent themselves every day.
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