Ileana Mulet and the art of transforming human passions
BY YANISBEL PEÑA PÉREZ, PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
For Ileana Mulet, art is constant evolution, an enriching dynamic of the creative spirit capable of connecting more than one way of doing. This is confirmed by her work in the visual arts and literature, two approaches that in her universe complement each other in a singular way.
She ignores what for others might be limits and takes on the task of giving life to her inspirations with admirable resolve, where, in the style of the ancient alchemists, she mixes courage, sensitivity and the lights of a restless spirit like hers.
Born in the eastern city of Holguín (1952), Mulet followed her creative dream and studied visual arts at the San Alejandro Academy in Havana, a city that opened its arms to her forever and marks an important part of her work.
Poetry is another aspect natural to the artist; before putting it on paper she would make it grow with brushes and colors, but once owner of the written word she could only coexist between both worlds until they became one.
I am not a person who has divorced from one world to enter another, the artist told CubaPLUS Magazine, “many critics say that my way of expressing myself in literature has a lot to do with the expressionism and magical realism that I reflect in my paintings.”
I realized, she adds, that my painting could go hand in hand with poetry, that I could relate one theme to the other, and so, some 14 years ago, I entered fully into literature.
In that dreamlike, intimate and singular environment, the Cuban capital has a special place, a space for the artist to transcend the tangible, that which is obvious to the eye.
“I paint the city, although I go beyond that. I was attracted to Eusebio Leal, to all those wonderful people of the Master Plan for the Integral Revitalization of Old Havana, that made me love the city and paint it.”
Havana, she says, “is that wonderful, colonial city, full of semicircular arches, railings, large gates, scattered birds, that blue sky trimmed with white, that we call the old city, of our ancestors, which is part of what we have now.”
It is also love, she specifies, because love can be transmitted not only to human beings but also to cities, even if they did not witness your birth, as in my case with Havana.
One day, she recalls, it became known that Ileana Mulet paints the city, 40 years I’ve been doing it, but when my paintings are seen, I want viewers to see why I imagine it.
“I need to give it a playful, imaginary feel, of magical realism, so that the viewer does not retain the image as if I had taken a picture of it, but rather how he would feel if he imagined it.”
The five centuries of the city have only reinforced its spell, that force exerted on Mulet and translated onto canvases or other forms of art.
I take my brush, she says, and I put the tinges of magical realism on it. “I use any technique, I might be working on a sculpture, but there has to be a house, a staircase, a gate, a stained glass window, an atmosphere of an old city.”
Maybe I’m doing an oil painting, a piece of cardboard, and there are the doors, the human beings. They are not empty, dead cities, they are full of life through the windows, the balconies, the exterior and the interior, she points out.
You always think you discover something new and important things; I rarely stop painting with the blues because they represent that sea you see there in the carved-out bay.
“I give myself that tenderness and say that as long as I live and breathe, I will never stop painting Havana, my wonder city.”
As passionate as the expressions of her strokes and verses, the creator does not rest, she takes on several pictorial and literary projects, among them the cardboard series Vértebras and the books Huellas sobre la ciudad, Sueño de papel, which is about Havana, El libro blanco and the just-finished Corazón en tiempos de pandemia (Heart in times of pandemic).
Vértebras, she explains, is a symbolic reference to the need of human beings to live united by and for something.
“I started that series in 2017, almost everything is on cardboard, although there is oil on canvas, drawing. When I put it up for consideration I think everyone will try to find what unites them, what they are united to.”
A Cuban of intense work, Ileana Mulet maintains her commitment to art, which she considers “a modifier of human passions, capable of fixing and shaping the world.”