The face behind the veil: Alberto Hernández Reyes' transfigured landscape


Plastic artist and writer
Atmospheres are a prime substance of landscapes. Natural environments lend artists scenes in which their ideals acquire a symbolic quality, their visions are condensed into metaphors, their concerns are transformed into a sort of ghosts that prowl around in hidden spots in the compositions. Said specters (ideals, visions, concerns), like tensors holding the structure of the image, travel from picture to picture, they jump outside the painter and settle deep inside them, because that is their task: to walk in the shadows, to be the face behind the veil. That is, where we see trees, mountains, rivers, stones, clouds, and other elements, we are also witnessing, whether we know about it or not, an illusion that transfigures the true continent of this painting: the face of the artist. That is why a landscape is always more than a view of nature. And what we perceive is a psychological impression and not the description of a place, even though that place exists and we can prove it does. In Alberto H. Reyes’ landscape it is possible to grasp all the feelings that reach the mind thanks to the atmospheres, whose sieve seems to refine biblical reminiscences. It is notable how the painter takes care of every detail in every picture, one could say with the aim of leaving not even a single millimeter without the covering of that veil distorted by his wooden shades of gold, which sometimes is a velvety mist and some others a set of well-defined elements under monochromatic appearance. The artist makes us aware of that inner latitude from which his artworks emanate, and he subjects us to an exchange of senses in which the beholder’s adjustments of taste merge with the creator’s profuse will. A dominant resource in this work is the color: the palette brings out different hues of yellow and ochre through the orchestration of complementaries in the shades and it imposes a vivid nature on us, with fantastic features at times, based on the verisimilitude of the always recognizable forms. The green hues, so characteristic of the Cuban countryside, are interpreted here with a vibrant and calibrated naturism which, beyond figurations, traps us into a link with mystery. And in every picture a unique state can be sensed, fitting some trace of mood swings or some memory fragment, or maybe some space the painter is trying to transmute by using what is most transcendental in his world. The scenes acquire the appearance of gold, both due to the preciosity of color and the denseness of the harmonies: one can be discovered places through which the Three Wise Men seem to have passed. A certain premonitory gift emerges in us when facing some of these landscapes. We can believe "something" is about to happen and we will be able to keep it if we stick like magnets to the surface of the canvases long enough. Mobility and immobility coexist congenitally, and at times the artist sharply defines erotic intonations for us, formations endowed with human sexuality that do not leave their rigor aside within the language used by the landscapist and which provoke at least a minute fright in us. That uneasiness in front of the expectation, and the sexed appearances, are a medium Alberto H. Reyes reveals to us, with a dose of surprise and skepticism crystallized in the suggestiveness of the forms. The purpose moving to these inquiries, which are somewhat foreign and whimsical, is conjectural and the imagination can take advantage of them in order to grow. Throughout Alberto H. Reyes’s painting a medieval bird flies by and leaves behind a trail that becomes a filter. Light is a permanent fixer. Contrasts amalgamate such great attention to detail. The pigment is monastically introduced. There is an order that acts as the net of a fisherman. But, even though the mixture of all these ingredients takes us into each painting almost by kidnapping us, there is also a meticulously natural force that pushes us outwards so we won’t disregard the possibility of fascination. That is to say: this landscape embraces us and sends us back, thrills us and cools us down, hits us and heals us. One would say the painter holds the power of magic in his hand. And for us, the ones who just stare, it turns out to be pretty convenient that it is so.