The Allure of Grey
By: Ilsa Rodríguez, Photos from the artist
Certain of his future vocation from a very early age, Rubén Rodríguez Martínez is known for extensive art work, where eroticism, religion and symbols are combined in a variety of shades of grey.
Beginning in the 1970s, this painter moved through art schools in central Villa Clara Province, and later in Havana. A decade later, he founded the René Portocarrero Experimental Silkscreen Art Workshop, using the ancient silkscreen technique that first exploded in Cuba 40 years ago.
During a lively conversation with Cubaplus, Rodríguez Martínez said that participation in the experimental workshop not only allowed him to enter deeply into the silkscreen process, but also to be on friendly terms with renowned Cuban artists and to learn how to assess the complexity of pictorial works.
A native of the city of Cárdenas, in Cuba’s western province of Matanzas, this professor from the Printing Department at the Higher Arts Institute works in oil on canvas and cardboard. He also works in other art forms, such as ceramics, and occasionally with stained glass. The only one in his family to become an artist, he recalls that in his childhood, his mother used a distinctive incentive for countering his restlessness. She gave him the opportunity to paint a wall in their backyard with lime, a task he confesses he carried out with pleasure and dedication.
Eroticism is the dominant theme in his wide-ranging work, and the female body the predominant form. Rodríguez Martínez’ silhouettes convey a sensuality that many critics consider at once poetic, delicate and suggestive. His work is markedly skewered toward shades of grey. He believes each person sees eroticism in different colours, depending on their values, feeling and culture. For him, there is no doubt grey is at the pinnacle.
He has earned several awards and commendations, among them prizes from the Engraving Salon of Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts and from the Jaume Guasch Foundation of Barcelona. Rubén Rodríguez Martínez has exhibited his work in dozens of halls in different parts of the world, both in personal as well as group collections. This year the artist plans a solo exhibit in Moscow and is working on a series that he will show in his hometown of Cárdenas