Sándor González Vilar: I am from Havana and I am a citizen
BY ROXANA CONSUEGRA
Very specific aspects distinguish a great part of Sándor González Vilar’s artistic production: the representation of a couple and a staircase as symbols of his vision of life, the inclusion of identifying elements that reaffirm his condition as a Cuban, and the constant appearance of architectural structures, mainly of the urban framework of the country’s capital.
Seeing these three characteristics together, one can see that we are in front of an extreme defender of his nationality. Despite having lived in and visited many countries, and having experiences that, as he himself confesses, would add up to almost 200 years, he feels the need to return, longing for his homeland.
In this sense, the works “Mi bandera” y “Mi escudo” are symptoms of the rootedness that beats in his heart. In both, this idea is reinforced not only with the representation of two national symbols, but also with the inclusion of images that pervade in collective memory and manage to identify a country as much as the national symbols.
Emblems are not only those which are officially established as such; they are also those that permeate memory. The drawings of the coat of arms and the flag are complemented with various photographs of the city of La Habana, panoramic views of the Malecón, shots of several main streets of the city and images of emblematic buildings such as the Cathedral.
“Habaneando” is a series in progress dedicated to iconic places of the Cuidad Maravilla. Begun in 2006, part of the series was exhibited in 2019 for the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the former Villa San Cristóbal de La Habana, in the gallery of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba.
Although it is now reaching its 501st anniversary, Havana continues to inspire the artist and motivates him to experiment with new techniques and media. He now draws, paints, illustrates … on prints from previously taken photos. In them he leaves some areas as they were captured, while (re) constructing others, playing at imagining his own city, in which that man with his ladder is not absent. Step by step González Vilar has worked to reach the place he occupies in Cuban art and also in society.
In 2000 he conceived and founded Galería Transeúntes, a space dedicated to promoting the talent of emerging artists, responsible for maintaining the legacy of Cuban art in future generations.
His philosophy of life directed towards thinking about younger people has turned his project into a school for many professionals who now enjoy prestige in the national and international art scene.
Galeria Transeúntes has been the scene of numerous exhibitions and one element that distinguishes it is promoting those who need it most at the right time. The same reason generated the creation of the Martha Machado Art Brigade, in 2008, by fellow Cuban artist Alexis Leyva Machado (Kcho). Sándor, along with another group of creators, is a member of this energetic battalion, dedicated to supporting people in exceptional situations, giving them a reason to move forward with artistic proposals.
It is the essence of this artist, committed to his time, his fellow men and his history. A thinker who does not stop at just generating a concept and capturing it on canvas, but who needs to bring it to life, to do for others what is possible from his position.
It is not enough to teach at the San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts; it is donating some of his art books to the center’s library collection so that the source of his knowledge can also reach others.
It’s not creating a gallery to promote his work; it’s providing that space for those starting out to feel stimulated and pursue their dreams. It is not painting skin like the tattooist that he also is; it is to imprint his characteristic energy and faith in life in the souls of his people, in the human being and in his land.
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Sándor González Vilar (Sil)