Iris Leyva: an artist who captures the senses
By Lázaro Gerardo Valdivia Herrero (*), Photos: Courtesy of the artist
Born in Las Tunas province, Cuba, and based in Havana for the last five decades, Iris Leyva Acosta is recognized in the national artistic culture as one of the most authentic, enterprising, and multifaceted visual artists.
Graduated in 1985 from the National School of Arts (ENA), and the following year from the National School of Art Teachers (ENIA) (upper secondary level), this singular creator and lover of universal knowledge also studied a degree in Visual Education at the Enrique José Varona Institute in the Cuban capital (1993), as well as a postgraduate degree in Philosophy and Literature and a specialized course in restoration, at the headquarters of the National Museum of Fine Arts (1994).
Her prolific artistic career can be seen in the numerous commercial forums and auctions, the fifty or so personal exhibitions, and the over a hundred group shows in which she has participated, with her native country and Mexico as the main venues for these curatorial endeavors. However, other nations such as Venezuela, China, the United States, Spain, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Portugal, Colombia, France, Germany and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, have also had the pleasure of exhibiting several of her creations.
Although her work has been mostly associated with the pictorial form, she has also moved with ease and certainty along other visual paths such as drawing, ceramics, engraving and sculpture. She always leaves an imprint of undeniable originality, talent and personal achievement, aspects specific to the artist’s very human condition.
Conceptually, Iris tends to offer a kind of reflective journey in her work through the different stages and natural dimensions of all beings, in which past, present and future interact and engage with the sole intention of awakening the viewer’s sensations and leading them along the symbolic or real path of their discovery.
This is why topics and resources as universal as love, human passion, death, eroticism, symbolism, referential, leisure, esoteric, religion, mythology, history, philosophy and the legendary are always found clearly depicted in the paintings of someone admittedly fascinated with the wisdom bequeathed to the contemporary world by the great pre-Columbian, Asian and Mediterranean civilizations of the Ancient Ages.
In formal terms, the exquisite and distinctive use of color and transparencies in her paintings stand out, a tendency since the start of her professional career, in which one can appreciate the alternation —and sometimes mixture— of figurative and abstract, approaches that challenge the norm behind the optical conjugation of lines, volumes, areas and shades.
At present, Iris Leyva Acosta, who, as well as being a visual artist, has also worked as an educator and cultural promoter, is immersed in creating her most recent pictorial series which, with the charming name of Leyendas Ancestrales, aims to recreate the universes and origin theories created by that such complex race of ambiguous nature, named humanity.