Jazzeando with abstraction
BY ROXANA CONSUEGRA, PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
For Juan Brouwer, a faithful exponent of abstract language in Cuba, painting, and especially that of the genre he practices, is very similar to jazz.
Improvisation in both arts is an essential element when transmitting the most subliminal messages to the public. Undoubtedly, in this artist’s works, a spontaneous tendency is reflected in each of his endless series, which he continues to develop over time, updating them and reflecting in them his evolution through the experience acquired through the years of work. Some of these sequences are even shaped over more than a decade. You can get to use the same shades as 15 years ago, but the uniqueness lies in not losing sight of the concept that underlies the work: personal concerns, very internal feelings or emotions overflow on the canvas with a gesture, sometimes sharp, other times subtle.
City Halo, Nothing stays the same, Infinite City and Black Tears are some of the titles of these series with no end. They show the inclination for this language within the visual arts, which came from an abstract painting book given to him, and that accidentally triggered in him the expressive and aesthetic questions that resonate in his pieces.
He initially based his inner self on the canvas, without any conditions: they were really spontaneous and sincere works. Thinking that perhaps there would be a course on solely abstract, he decided to undertake studies at the Academy of Fine Arts, but there was no specific course for this trend. The first years of training were somewhat difficult, he says, because his needs for expression were very precise. In the fourth year he received classes from the artist Alexis Esquivel (who had an international projection at the time, with a broader vision of what the plastic arts were), and that is when abstraction really begins to work.
Currently his work is characterized by diverse use of extra-artistic elements: in the creation process itself the most unexpected utensils are involved and become the artist’s tools. Of an abstract nature, it has several formal lines, results of his own experimentation with materials and instruments, which often becomes accidental. Juan Brouwer recognizes the influence of the American school of abstract expressionism, especially the color field painting. From these trends, convergence in several aspects are notable in his works: work with large format and the predominance of a color or areas of flat colors, where there is prevalence of a specific hue and a narrow range of shades on the canvas, are some of them. However, his premise is based on experimention and achieving greater expressiveness from the contrasts of certain colors.
His work is part of private collections nationally and internationally. His projects, in the same way, assert themselves within the panorama of inside and outside Cuba. Among the most recent is the bipersonal exhibition at the Trip Habana Libre Hotel entitled “Infinite City”, and outside national territory, participated in the recent Salzburg International Art Fair in Austria (SIAF), represented by the Van Gogh Gallery in Madrid , Spain.
Defender of Cuban abstract art, he has his sights on opening a studio where his work coexists alongside that of other contemporary artists who cultivate this genre of plastic arts, a space of visibility of young art in Cuba in terms of abstraction. It will be called: Brouwer Studio.