YOEL DÍAZ GÁLVEZ REVIEW
VOCES DEL ABANDONO O PENITENCIA DEL TIEMPO | VOICES OF ABANDONMENT OR PENANCE OF TIME
(On a sample by Yoel Díaz Galvez)
By Waldo Leyva.
For Baudelaire, poetry is the only form of artistic creation that can reign without existing. I want to understand this affirmation by the author of the Little Prose Poems, bearing in mind something that I have stated on more than one occasion: verse, the poem or stanza, are only means that the poet uses to trap and express, as Antonio Machado said, «restlessness, anguish, fear, resignation, hope, impatience told with signs of time and revelations of being in the human conscience». Each era has its word, its unrepeatable gesture, but only the poetry that breathes in the poem or leaps from the canvas and remakes us, that which sculpts the marble and carves the wood, that which gives itself disembodied in each melody and is the owner of the summit and the abyss, that which still saves, no matter in what way it is written, the poetry that still keeps, no matter in what way it is written, its own poetry, the one that still keeps, no matter in what language, the protective humidity of the cavern, its womb-like warmth, the crackling of the first bonfire, the indecipherable whirlwind of the passing days and the memory of the future; only poetry, I repeat, can fuse ages and customs.
This reflection on poetic creation came to me, not from reading a collection of verses, but from contemplating an exhibition of works by the Cuban painter Yoel Díaz Gálvez. And, as I have already suggested, poetry has many ways of expressing itself and, in the canvases of this magnificent painter, even the least informed of viewers will feel that inexplicable shudder that comes from discovering it in a stain placed there as if carelessly, with strokes of astonishing fidelity, where light and objects take on a life of their own. This can be seen in the silhouette of an abandoned boat, far from the murmur of the waves, feeling how the roots of a vegetation that feeds on its wood, where iodine and saltpetre still survive, grow from within it. Contemplating this boat, resolved with a masterly technical economy, enough to imagine its complete structure, its seafaring ductility, its vocation of remoteness, one feels the blow of loneliness, that deep tear, which neither the green of the fern that pretends to come out of its side, nor the light that the painter catches, but which we do not know whether it comes from the dawn or from those indefinite hours marked by a time that escapes irremediably, can mitigate it. That boat is solitude and is, at the same time, a chimera. It reveals the painter’s anguish, his fantasy, his insatiable search, the agony of the one who must leave and only waits.
Boats have been a recurring theme in Yoel Díaz Gálvez’s work. Sometimes they are seen ready to cross the waves, to face the horizon, to discover the uncertainty of the frontier. At other times, as in this exhibition, they are abandoned, at the mercy of the deterioration caused by the passing of the hours, alone in the midst of the silent bustle that life creates, while it consumes an object to give birth to other forms of existence. I am particularly impressed by that small boat which, like a wounded animal, anchors its remains in the earth, indicating that it is not ready to give up and gives the sensation that it will take flight in search of the coast, while the fire begins to consume it under the indifference of a twilight sky, barely evident. Few verses can capture poetry with the intensity expressed in this image.
The train is another of the themes present in this exhibition. I am sure that there is an intimate relationship between the existence of the train and the memory of man. Trains had and have a magic that they share with boats, a mystery that surpasses any rational explanation. Seeing these abandoned locomotives that the painter gives us, drawn with meticulous nostalgia, where rust has sculpted on their metal body the passing of the days, I remembered a little poem, written long ago, where I tried to catch that feeling of longing that the memory of trains crossing the plains or entering lonely stations panting, provokes in me.
Here are the lines:
I watched stars fall / And dreamed without knowing the sea / While the trains / Followed their indecipherable route / I speak of the humble / panting trains of childhood / Made to the measure of astonishment / Laden with unsuspected remoteness. / When they whistle in memory / There is no such nostalgia.
Yoel himself reminds us that «an image is not only what it represents in itself. Within its autonomy, the past, the present and the future interact». For him, both the train and the boats are a metaphor for «the penance of time».
In the exhibition to which I refer, and which the public in Guanajuato will be able to enjoy, the painter confesses that he set out to «resize» these objects because they have an indisputable affinity with the human being. He decided to place them in barren spaces, lost places, where there seems to be no human trace, with the clear intention of giving them a voice, of drawing attention to them, of making visible the abandonment to which they were subjected.
Abandonment that also belongs to us, because in every piece of wood or metal that time devours, there is something of ourselves that dies or is transformed. If we are attentive to what the artist suggests to us in each piece, we can realise that in these barren solitudes, life continues to bubble up in its own way.
Those of us who have been lucky enough to know the work of Yoel Díaz Galvez, to be in his studio, know the professional rigour with which this artist faces the challenge of each piece, we have been able to confirm the mastery of his own style, in which he dialogues, without conflict, the most careful realism, with the fluency of abstraction where the capacity for poetic suggestions has no limits. A careful draughtsman, this artist has unravelled the map of the human body, allowing us to feel, down to the smallest detail, every fragment of the skin or the astonishment of eyes that have just emerged from the germinal waters. Sometimes, in front of one of his paintings, where the human figure is the protagonist, I have felt the sensation that I can guess the pulsation of the blood beating in the labyrinth of the veins, or that I can discover, in the perfection of a face, all the questions and no true answer. To achieve this perfection, Yoel confesses, stripping away any veil of mystery, that it is only the result of a fusion of «different elements of contemporary art». We know that this is not enough to produce the splendid works that come out of his hands. In this exhibition, Díaz Gálvez, owner of his own language, confirming his mastery in drawing and in the use of a very particular palette of colours, invites us to reflect with each piece, invites us to reject that attitude of detachment, of fierce selfishness that characterises contemporary man and distances him, more and more, from that which has to do with the essence of being. In this dialogue of time, which we discover in each stroke on the canvas, the painter seems to remind us that whoever forgets the past forfeits the future, whoever abandons what yesterday allowed him to walk, laugh, dream, have ideals and love, is condemned.
The exhibition before the viewers is the result of a creative sleeplessness. In these pieces, the artist gives us his vision of the world, his particular way of interpreting reality, not by reproducing it,but by recreating it. Although it would be fairer to say, proposing another reality, one that has more to do with what is felt, with what is born of our spirit; a reality that occupies that intangible territory of memory where all things acquire their true human dimension.