Rafael Consuegra: The Passion to Sculpt
By: Mireya Castañeda
Rafael Consuegra (Santiago de Cuba, 1957) is a sculptor who surprises with his unique vision and ability to bring his work to life. As an artist, he is inspired by everything around him, the mundane as well as the spiritual, and he sculpts any material with passion. Now, however, his work is developing in metal and with a more contemporary concept. His sculptures range from miniatures and medium-sized pieces to monumental works.
A graduate of the Higher Arts Institute (ISA for its Spanish acronym) in 1983, he had his first solo exhibition in 1985 under the title Montages: Assemblies by Rafael Consuegra in the Art Gallery of Nueva Paz, then Havana Province. He has participated in more than 70 group exhibitions on the island and different countries, among them Brazil, China, Russia, the former Czechoslovakia, Spain, the United States, Martinique, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, Gabon and Austria.
In Cuba he has works erected in Havana, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Isle of Youth and Bayamo, and abroad in Libreville, Gabon, Margarita Island, Venezuela, San Salvador and Nayarit, Mexico.
His pieces are included in museum collections in Servando Cabrera Moreno in Havana; Contemporary Art in Vienna, Austria; Emilio Bacardí in Santiago de Cuba and Small Format Sculpture in Las Tunas. Works are also found in cultural centres in San Pancho, Nayarit, Mexico, and Bratislava, and in the Bernardo Quetglas Collection in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
In his statements to Cubaplus, Consuegra places emphasis on his participation in the 11th Havana Biennial (May-June 2012).
“I took part in two group exhibitions in La Cabaña. One large piece called With all the Tenderness that I Carry Inside is located in the outer area, on the esplanade where the Cannon Ceremony takes place. It's a bit ironic. It's an element that morphologically is pleasing to the eye, with textures containing the concept of environmental sculpture. But it carries within a sort of pendulum that has a cutting edge. People can interact with the piece, they can play with it but always inherent is the fact that it can cause harm”.
-What is so special about sculpture that made you adopt it as a mode of expression?
“I began with painting when I entered art school and there I discovered sculpture, with superb teachers. From the formal viewpoint I was interested in what happened with sculpture, the relationship with space, the same sense of volume, and it had more in common with what I wanted to say. From high school on, I opted for sculpture. I discovered and fell in love with sculpture”.
-What is the creative work of a sculptor?
“Each artist strings together a discourse through an idea that spins around, which ultimately is a project. One has a theme that is recurring, either long term or for a certain time. The first thing for me is that one thing leads to another. At the moment I'm working on a line of ideas, all related with people, with their development, their inclusion in society, with the social, with everything. I have an idea, the design and as I develop it, I improve it. Then there is the process of choosing the material. I include found items. We are the heirs of the history of art. We are favoured by everything. So I go on shaping and in the process itself of making the piece, it is always enriched”.
-How do you select a subject? What are your motives?
“The subject has always been humankind. It is what I do today, humankind and their environment, with their social development, their aspirations and frustrations”.
-What are you working on now?
“I am working on a project for a symposium in the city of Santiago de Cuba. I have expectations for this as I have pieces in many provinces, but I don't have a work in my hometown. I only have a medium-sized work that is in the collection of the Bacardí Museum. Now I'm doing one for an outside area. I'm creating it in metal and the theme is my own: humankind, society. It will be called The Take-Off.”
-By way of concluding, what is the magic that sculpture has for you?
“In sculpture, everyone participates because of this very principle of volume, of being able to touch it, to discover nuances. That's where I see sculpture having magic”.
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