A different Abela
By: Ilsa Rodríguez
Technique, humour and experimentation seem to be key words in the work of painter Eduardo Miguel Abela Torrás, a third generation artist who is now on the list of unavoidable names of contemporary Cuban painters.
With a degree from the prestigious San Alejandro Fine Arts Academy in Havana specializing in graphic design, since he originally planned to make a career out of design, Abela Torrás began working as cartoonist in several national newspapers and was doing quite well for himself until the outbreak of the economic crisis hit Cuba in the early 1990s.
The crisis forced the definitive closure or page reduction of major publications devoted to graphic comedy, such as the weekly tabloid DDT, considered a milestone in Latin America, and Palante. This was the moment that the restless artist, born in 1963, chose to use contacts he had developed while working in the graphic workshop of now famous painters Nelson Domínguez and Roberto Fabelo to begin what became a successful foray into painting.
Abela is the grandson of Félix Eduardo Abela Villareal (1889-1965), the creator of the legendary cartoon character known as El Bobo (“The Fool”), an intensely naive but caustic character who publicly and intelligently defied the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado (1925-1933), and who was also the founder of the Cuban painting vanguard and author of emblematic jewels such as the Guajiro painting.
The father of this young artist, Eduardo Abela Alonso, born in 1932, decided to put some distance between himself and his father as far as art was concerned, traveling with his paintings into lyrical abstraction with some hints of expressionism.
Something similar happened with the third of the Abela's, who at first resisted the idea of continuing a tradition tagged with the family name. Abela dabbled in music for a while (he can play both the piano and guitar), before the desire to achieve an identity of his own pushed him to enter in to the graphic design specialty at the San Alejandro Academy.
In his spacious apartment, near the Fine Arts Palace, the Revolution Museum (former Presidential Palace) and from where you can see the entrance to the Havana Bay, this restless artist, born in 1963, talks about his work today and future plans. Among these plans is an art exhibition of both his grandfather's and father's paintings.
Among his most recent work, there is a series of photographs with Havana snapshots by French Louis Arena which have been created in preparation of an upcoming collage exhibition in Rome, Italy.
Abela Torrás admits he enjoys the challenge of breaking into new techniques when closing a creation cycle, whether it is in graphic humour, painting, photo handling and even collage.
However, humour still appears in all his work to the delight of his followers. He leaves traces of humour in his paintings, in his wooden boxes, his engravings, photos and collage, from which at least a smile rises.
The young artist has a long road ahead of him as he continues to work and surprise his audience with new techniques, combinations and creations, all without losing the magic of a large smile on our faces; a smile which he identifies as his true motivation and passion.
Eduardo Miguel Abela Torrás
Tel: (537) 861-0201