An Artist’s Transparent Secret
By Roberto F. Campos, Photos: Publicitur (Norlys)
Buildings are are often compact structures behind which lie pieces of reality and scattered ideas. But despite their apparent solidity, façades can become so translucent that their most intimate secrets are exposed.
This is what young Cuban painter Donnis Llago tries to convey across his Transparencias (Transparencies) series, an invitation to take a glimpse at what may exist behind a seemingly clear and crystal world.
According to the artist the first pieces of this series were shown in 2012, as a part of the collective exhibition Itinerancias: Detrás del muro (Roaming: behind the wall) during Havana’s 11th Biennial.
For this project, Llago reproduced the Havana Malecón seawall in its actual size, with shapes of objects typical of daily Cuban life, using translucent acrylic paint. Llago explains that his intention was to suggest that the Malecón, which is a barrier between the flow of the sea and that of humans, is as fragile as a large fish tank, also alluding to the sense of insularity of those who, like Cubans, live on an island.
“The series has continued to take shape until now. I am currently painting government headquarters of various countries in large formats, particularly the most controversial, simulating them as if they were glass, transparent, hence the title of my next exposition: Secretos Transparentes (Transparent Secrets), he says. But there is yet another ‘hidden’ message in Donnis’ work - the idea of playing with what symbolizes power, while exposing what (according to he as a citizen) should be one of the main virtues of politics.
“A government house is where everything is decided, supposedly for the people’s needs, so it should be transparent and solid at the same time through that subtle game of translucency and fragility of the glass, alluding to current situations in the world”.
This series is a sort of a work-in-progress, its pieces made using oil on canvas, and the resires continues to grow according to the initiative of its creator. Transparencias is also an facet of Donnis’ personality that according to him, defines him as an artist.
“Ever since I was a student, I have always tried to create coherent and sincere work, always trying to give a direct and clear message without it becoming literal. I always tried to deal with subjects in a subtle way, subjects that touch everyone but that not all are able to see”, he points out.
Transparencias is also a product of his artistic development, because he said that with the passage of time his work has acquired a more contemporary character, in keeping with modern trends in art. It is therefore not surprising that his name appears within the promising young artists of Cuban contemporary art, which, he says, has experienced great development thanks to the rise of galleries getting national artists known.
But Donnis’ is not interested in being on a list of artists to be judged, his goal is to transmit messages to a wide audience. If the public is able to enjoy and connect with his work “then the goal has been achieved.”