Creating Beauty Zaida del Río
By: Charly Morales Valido / Photos: Courtesy of Zaida del Río
A few steps from the boisterous Plaza de Armas, an ancient wooden staircase winds into the fascinating universe of Zaida del Río: her personages, sketches, strokes and spirits engulf spectators with creations by one of the most prolific Cuban plastic artists.
Vases with various brush bouquets line her easel; Zaida’s mystical themes adorn the walls of the studio-gallery, where we can often find Zaida medidating in the Buddhist lotus position, or eternizing the Shiva cosmic dance.
At first sight, Zaida looks like a creature out of her own paintings, but quickly the true woman surfaces. Zaida was born in Guadalupe, Las Villas in the heart of Cuba, where she began to love nature and feel the need to paint it - and give happiness.
What inspires you? Nature, humans’ intimate communion with it, our personal journey, happiness, frustration, waiting... but mostly beauty around us inspires me. Beauty is as we human beings perceive it and my aspiration is to perfect it. I find inspiration within.
What are you working on now? I am working on a project involving the carolina flower, which I find very interesting. I remember that as a young girl I used to place them on stools as though they were dancing. In a way this project brings me back to my childhood.
The bird figure is recurring in your work...why? Birds in my work are an illusion, a metaphor. At one point I was seduced by the idea of being a bird in order to understand birds, and that has remained with me. The bird is also a symbol of freedom, a way of hiding behind a beautiful mask.
Do you have any particular ritual or environment for your creations? The environment depends on my inspiration at that particular moment. It also depends on how I feel. Sometimes I medidate, I light incense...
Lately there have been hints of Hinduism in your work … It is an interesting culture, and it has taught me to appreciate who I am even more. I am an anxious woman, I like learning, knowing, opening to the cosmos, get involved with the universe, live new experiences that reaffirm and enrich what and who I am.
How do you evaluate your career at this point? I have achieved the goals I that planned for myself since I started. I now feel confident that I am able to see my projects to the end and fulfill the goals I set for myself. It is great to feel that way; the act of creating deserves to be respected and not everyone has the gift of making something out of nothing. Meanwhile,why take inventory? I still have a lot more to give.