Marlon Portales / Art Studio

Cuban artist based in Havana, Cuba.

Welcome to my virtual space

Shows & Series Statement


  • 5/9/2019 18:00
  • 532 West 25th Street, New York, NY, USA

The Voyeur, solo show (en 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel) by Marlon Portales brings together a group of medium and large format paintings consisting of portraits of spectators in different museums in New York. As part of the process, the artist initiates contact with the portrayed in the museum space, observes them and captures their expression without being noticed. Then, in the intimacy of the workshop, he reinterprets that impression through the pictorial act. The Voyeur analyzes the art spectators, converts them into models, into the center and purpose of the artistic discourse. The act of reception of the work of art, the pleasure and the impact that these produce in the subject seduce Portales, he wishes not only to contemplate it but also to represent it as if he wanted to perpetuate the aesthetic experience in the canvas.

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  • 16/5/2019 10:00
  • Marlon Portales Art Studio

Decomposition is a series of pictorial portraits presented during the XIII Havana Biennial, ranging from the figurative to the abstract, in which two fundamental figures or characters, Fidel Castro and my grandfather Aurelio Cusett, are taken as a reference. The first case arises from historical archive photographs and other images of the Cuban leader after his death, combined with a very personal and intimate point of view of the leader's image. In the second, images from my grandfather's family album are used, showing it from a daily and personal point of view. The choice of both characters for the staging of a pictorial dialogue is presented as a strategy of deterrence and rupture of the supposed prevailing political ideology in our society, or rather, the transformation of it. Fidel's figure and that of my grandfather are diametrically opposed in the ideal, political and historical plane, their approach and relationship in this case is given by a fetish idea that has haunted me for years, that of finding (or rather camouflaging today) the figure of one in the other. This connection at first only responded to a certain physical similarity between the two characters, but today I am much more aware of the complexity involved in it. I could sum it up by saying that Fidel presents himself to me as a radical political figure with an air of revolution capable of transforming a society and an epoch (for better or worse); and my grandfather on the other hand as the incarnation of the most humble, natural and simple that a man can possess in the best sense of the word, as a peasant dedicated all his life to the family breadwinner. Both figures are presented as paradigmatic entities that the pictorial process constructs and deconstructs in a quasi-abstract way, making possible a total (absolute) image in which the leader's historical and family (human) memory almost disappears but remains intermittently latent.

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  • 18/5/2018 19:00
  • Origenes Gallery, Habana, Cuba.

Museum was a personal exhibition inaugurated in May of 2017 in Orígenes gallery, Havana. The pictorical series emerges as a continuity of the trip, this new series has as reference a personal photographic archive that emerged in the summer of 2015 in New York. During this period and to date, the procedure consisted in photographing the interior of several museums and galleries of renowned prestige (Guggenheim, MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum, The Whitney Museum ...) scenes of the spectators in front of the works of art that make up their collections or exhibitions. Later these scenes are recreated from the pictorial medium, but eliminating all the works of walls and rooms. The result presents compositions in which only the viewer is visible in said spaces. The attention is focused on the observer and makes the real spectator a participant in the work by recognizing himself in the represented spectator.

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  • 16/3/2017 19:00
  • Galiano Gallery, Havana, Cuba

Grand tour was a personal exhibition inaugurated in March of 2017 in the Galiano gallery. Is an artistic project inspired by my first trip out of Cuba in the summer of 2015. Every place I have visited since, has become a motive for my creative process that ends with a pictorial approximation to each one of them. The travels to New York, California, some cities in Italy and Germany have permitted me to generate what I consider to be a refreshing experience within my work that allows me to overcome the physical and spiritual limitations of my everyday context.

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  • 6/10/2016 05:00
  • Carmelo González Gallery, Havana, Cuba

Poemario was a personal exhibition inaugurated in October 2016, at the Carmelo Gonzels Gallery in Havana.

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About me


About me
Education
2018 – Degree in Visual Arts. Superior Institute of Art(ISA).Havana. Cuba.
2010 – Bachelor in Visual Arts (Professional Academy of Visual Arts Tiburcio Lorenzo. Pinar del Río, Cuba).

Residencies
2018 / The Fountainhead Residency. Miami, Florida, USA.
2016 / Residency Illy& UNIDEE (Unmaking: Subverting The Every-Day). Cittadellarte-FundazionePistoletto. Biella, Italy.
2015 / Residency Art OMI. OMI International Art Center. Columbia, Nueva York, USA.

Solo Shows
2019 - "The Voyeur". 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York, USA.
2018 - “Museum”.OrigenesGallery, Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, Havana, Cuba.
2017 - “Grand Tour”. Galiano Gallery, Havana. Cuba
2016 - “Poems” (Poemario). Carmelo Gallery, Havana, Cuba
2015 - “The left sentence” (Duo Show withIván M. Perera).Rubén Martínez VillenaGallery, Havana, Cuba.
- “Tropical Paradise”Pseudonymous- Enrique Rosett). 03C Gallery, Superior Institute of Art (ISA).Havana. Cuba.
- “In Extremix” (Pseudonymous-Ernesto Nereda).03C Gallery, Superior Institute of Art (ISA).Havana. Cuba.
2010 - "With the sense tax". Professional Academy of Visual Arts Tiburcio Lorenzo.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2007 –“ Roads“.Lobby Cinema Praga.Pinegrove of the River.
- “The being and he/she swims her".Ministry of Science Technology and Environment (CITMA). Pinar del Río, Cuba.

Group Shows
2019
- "Illnes has a color" (Collateral to the XIII Havana Biennial). Estudio 50, Havana, Cuba.
- "Lyceum" (Collateral to the XIII Havana Biennial). Casa de Cultura de Plaza, Havana, Cuba.
- "Resonancia" (Collateral to the XIII Havana Biennial). Galería Galiano, Havana, Cuba.
- "Artífice" (Collateral to the XIII Havana Biennial). NG Art Gallery, Havana, Cuba.
- "En olor de multitudes". Frábrica de Arte Cubano, Havana, Cuba.
2018
- Meraki. NG Art Gallery, Panama.
- Arte y Arquitectura. Frábrica de Arte Cubano, Havana, Cuba.
- La noche boca arriba. Acacia Gallery, Havana, Cuba.
- (Otras) Crónicas marcianas. Casa 8 Gallery, Havana, Cuba.
2017
- “Move Things: videocreation in Cuba”.20th Movie Theater Las Americas, International Film Festival, Austin, Texas, USA.
- “Experiments in Cinéma”. International Experimental Film Festival, Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico, USA.
- “Missunderstanding”.Visual Arts Faculty Gallery, Superior Institute of Art (ISA), Havana, Cuba.
- “The Aproach”.Cuban Art Factory (FAC), Vedado, Havana, Cuba.
- “Le Grand Palimdrome”.French alliance, Prado, Havana, Cuba.
- “Das istkeinBild.Das iste in Bild”.BirgGalerieimVolkspark, Halle, Germany.
- “Trecehistoriasmásuna (Thirteen plus one tells)”. Ludwig Foundation, Havana, Cuba
2015
- “Art present: Frontier”.Sometime Art Space, Havana, Cuba.
- XXVIII Provincial Salon October 20th. Museum of Art of Pinar del Río (MAPRI) Pinar del Río, Cuba.
- Art OMI. OMI International Art Center. Nueva York, USA.
- F.A.P. YourSelf. Detras del Muro. XII Havana Biennial, Nerudacoffe, Havana, Cuba.
- Three.Estudio Residencial Miramar. Playa, Havana, Cuba.
- Mise en scène. XII Bienal of Havana, Superior Institute of Art, Havana, Cuba.
- VI International Video Art Festival of Camagüey. Camagüey, Cuba.
- Éticos y estéticos (Ethics and Aesthetics). Center of International Press. Havana, Cuba.
2014
- “Las otrasNarraciones (The other narrations)”.VIExhibition of Contemporary Cuban Art.“Wifredo Lam” Center of Conteporary Art, Havana, Cuba.
- “POST-IT II”.Expo of Contemporary Cuban Art.Collage Havana, Havana, Cuba.
- “Photo-art”, La Havana.Center for Cuban Studies, New York.
- XIII Videominuto International Contest. University of Zaragoza, España.
- “VA-POR”Alcazarstudio, Havana, Cuba.
- “Now it is the nearest approach in the future”. Center of Development of the Visual Arts, Havana, Cuba.
2013
-“POST-IT.Expo of Contemporary Cuban Art”. Collage Havana, Havana, Cuba.
2012
-“II Show of Contemporary Art”.Development Center of the Visual Arts.Pinardel Río, Cuba.
- XXXVI “SalonDecember 14”. Arturo RegueiroGallery. Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“La Concretera” Audiovisual Laboratory, 1th mixture. Museum of Art of Pinar del Río (MAPRI). Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“ZOOM”. It salts Real House of the Creative Youth (AHS). Pinar del Río, Cuba.
- “National Salon AKDEMIK 2012”.Complex Cultural Residence Student Sanja and Aramburu, Havana, Cuba.
-“In the Curb”.Provincial Council of the Visual Arts.Pinegrove of the River.
- “When Pinar del Río Paints”. Expocuba, Pavilion of Culture. Havana. Cuba.
- “Dream City”. Museum of Art of Pinar del Río (MAPRI). Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2011
- "XXXV SalonDecember 14”.Gallery Arturo Regueiro. Pinegrove of the River.
- - “Paths”. Pavilion Cuba. Havana. Cuba.
-“Infor-Morphosis” (Colateral to the XXVI Provincial Living room October 20).Gallery of the Professional Academy of Visual Arts.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“XXVI Provincial Living room October 20”.Provincial Council of the Visual Arts.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“Phase 4 of the Pinegrove Of the River / Nova Cultural Scotian Exchange”.Arturo Regueir Gallery.Pinar del Río. Cuba.
2010
- Military Service, Cuba.
2009
- “Provincial SalonTiburcio Lorenzo”. UNEAC.Pinegrove of the River.
- “Provincial Salon of Students and Graduates”.Professional Academy of Plastic Arts Tiburcio Lorenzo.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“Provincial living room of Students and Egresados”.Colateral to The First Show of Contemporary Art. Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“I Show of Contemporary Art”. Development Center of the Visual Arts.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2008
- “X Salon of Young Art. He/she marries of the Creative Youth”. Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“XXXII SalonDecember 14”. Arturo RegueiroGallery. Pinar del Río, Cuba.
-“XXV Provincial SalonOctober 20”.Museum of Art of Pinar del Río (MAPRI) Pinar del Río, Cuba.
- “Provincial Salon of Students”.Arturo RegueiroGallery.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2007
- “Exhibition End of Course”.Arturo Regueiro Gallery.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
- “IX Salon of Young Art. He/she marries of the Creative Youth”.Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2006
-“Salon of Students and Graduates”.Professional Academy of Plastic Arts Carlos Hidalgo. Pinar del Río. Cuba.
Prizes
2011
III PrizeXXXV Salón Diciembre 14th. Arturo RegueiroGallery, Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2009
Prize Provincial Salon for Students. Professional Academy of Visual Arts Tiburcio Lorenzo, Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2008
Academy Prize. XXV Provincial Salon October 20th. Museum of Art of Pinar del Río (MAPRI) Pinar del Río, Cuba.
Prize. Provincial Salon for Students. Professional Academy of Visual Arts Tiburcio Lorenzo, Pinar del Río, Cuba.
2006
Mention. Provincial Salon for Students. Professional Academy of Visual Arts Tiburcio Lorenzo, Pinar del Río, Cuba.

Publications:
Hamlet Fernández. La imagen de los otros: voyerismos de la recepción.Catalog of Museum Solo show. Havana. Mayo, 2018.
Gladys Garrote. A propósito de Grand Tour. CdeCuba Magazine, No. 22, 2017.
Charla CONTINUA. Unmaking: Subverting the every-day. CANTIERE 01. PublicationofCitadellarte-Fundación Pistoletto and La Embajada de Rebirth/ Tercer Paraíso en Cuba. Junio-Julio, 2016.
Art Oncuba 10. The Cuban Visual Arts Magazine. Marzo-Mayo, 2016.
Thalía Díaz Vieta. Maridaje de intenciones: desde el universo de la animación. Arts and LettersFaculty, HavanaUniversity, Cuba. 2015.
Yudinela Ortega y Claudia Taboada. Objetos de la re-existencia. Catalog ofThe left sentencedual exhibition.Septiembre-Octubre, 2015.
Mirta Luaces. Interview: Marlon Portales Cusett y el mundo de las artes plásticas. ( http://www.laguiagratuita.com/2230_vida/3303205_marlon-portales-cusett-y-el-mundo-de-las-artes-plasticas.html ) Miami, USA. Agosto, 2015.
ART OMI 2015. Catálogo digital. New York, USA. 2015. (http://www.artomi.org/cms/uploads/artomi2015.pdf)
Susan Delson. Trend Warming.Cuban Art News, ART+AUCTION.Mayo, 2015.
Caridad Blanco. Catálogo THREE, XIIHavanaBienial, Cuba. Mayo, 2015.
Magaly Espinosa. Marlon Portales: del lenguaje a la percepción. El correo del archivo No. 23, Havana, Cuba. 2014.

Texts


Texts
Voyeurs at 25th St
By Gladys Garrote


The voyeur, the snoop, the looker, seeks pleasure in observation: he is pleased to see without being seen. Voyeurism is rather a passive attitude, where satisfaction is built upon the act of contemplation.

As such, observing art is for the most part a voyeuristic action. The work of art as a window to an aesthetic reality offers to the spectator the possibility of immersing himself in another space, of investigating a different medium, of observing situations that happen without his intervention. Aesthetic experience generates aesthetic pleasure; in order to reach it, the subject who perceives investigates the object-art, scrutinizes it, searches over the surface, penetrates it. All this generates a series of sensations that are projected on the body: expressions, movements, gestures...

The museum is the ideal playing field for the practice of artistic voyeurism. Here is where the art voyeurists meet. These are the subjects that interest Marlon Portales, they are the protagonists of his most recent personal exhibition. The Voyeur(1) gathers a set of portraits of anonymous characters that the artist found within different museums in the city. He shows them in the act of contemplation, imbued in dialogue with the artwork, works merely suggested by Portales in the titles of his pieces. The reception, satisfaction and impact that art produces in the spectator seduce the artist; he wishes, therefore, to perpetuate them on canvas.

But doesn't this intention also make Portales a voyeurist?

In the process of creating this series, the artist approaches his characters clandestinely. The act of perception to be represented must be authentic: the spectator must not feel observed. The reaction to aesthetic pleasure takes place in the public space of the museum, but the action itself is private and, if you will, solitary. Camouflaged as a visitor, Portales gets close to these characters who do not even notice him. His actions are indiscreet and invasive, but like any good voyeur he avoids being discovered.

Then in the intimacy of his workshop he selects his models to take to the canvas. That is when his voyeuristic action ceases to be passive. The re-presentation of pleasure focuses him in on the characters and their expressions. He constructs them by recreating the traces that art has left on their faces, in their gestures: he alludes to iconic works by the impact they have on the contemporary spectator.

The result which the exhibition offers now makes us meta-vouyeurists: we know that we attend to the result of a clandestine act, we participate in the impertinence of Marlon Portales and with our own perception we perpetuate the invasion of the intimate act of these characters. We recognize ourselves in them, in our own act of self-contemplation, we identify ourselves with he whom is looking -who observes us- who is now the painting itself.

(1)The Voyeur brings together pieces from the Museum series that began in 2017.

The image of others: voyeurisms of reception


The image of others: voyeurisms of reception
By Hamlet Fernández
February, 2018


A collective but silent interaction; museums are par excellence spaces of silence, spaces in which a certain solemnity is breathed, even in contemporary art museums. In the experience within the museum the relationship with the works is not usually conditioned by a collective dialogue, as could happen in a debate or other type of activity. But it could be asserted that inside the museum we experience the influence of the behaviour of others. How do other spectators relate to the works, how fast do they look, how long are they absorbed by a sensory stimulus charged with expressiveness; what is reflected in the faces, in the contortions of the body, how are the works wandered around or ignored? In short, close behaviors are a silent presence most of the time, but one that interferes with our effort to understand.
For an attentive, curious receiver of human behavior, this spontaneous collective performance is diagrammed before the eye as a dynamic of great cultural expressiveness. An expressiveness that is profoundly constitutive of the "art world", by the basic fact that at each historical moment the forms of reception are co-determined both by the forms of production and by the social frameworks in which the cultural practice of art unfolds as a public event. And reception would become precisely the moment of consummation of art as a public event; it does not matter whether the public presence in front of the work is made up of a narrow circle of privileged, or broader sectors of society.
Therefore, to attend to this diffuse - because it is difficult to document - phenomenon of artistic reception in spaces such as museums and galleries, means to focus our gaze and reflection on the process in which art materializes as a living fact, that is, as an intersubjective current of experience.
And will there be anything more complex and rich in human content than a flow of communication not regulated beforehand, communication stimulated by the energy produced by sensory excitation and expanding into the most unsuspected mental hallucubrations? Thus, if for theoretical, aesthetic, sociological research, etc., it should be a phenomenon of vital interest, for artistic research for creative purposes it should be to the same extent. Hence my satisfaction at knowing the most recent pictorial series by Marlon Portales, Museum; a project with which this young artist begins to develop a line of aesthetic reflection and pictorial experimentation practically unexplored in the tradition of Cuban art.
That Marlon's interest in this series is constituted by the phenomenon of reception is corroborated by the way in which museum visitors become the protagonists of the works; to the point that it could be said, although without interest in establishing catalogues, that these are collective and individual portraits of anonymous people. The presence of these people in different rooms of internationally renowned museums was removed from the temporal continuum by the artist's photographic record; a gesture of documentation that turned these beings and their attitudes into study material, an object of scrutiny for the creator's gaze. Therefore, there is something indexical in the resulting pictorial work, even if it is only a metamorphosed trace of human activity that converged in those space-times. When Marlon recreates his photographic sources in pictorial narratives, he strips the gallery spaces of the works they treasure or once exhibited, the walls become diffuse surfaces, and the artist concentrates all his work on the representation of the spectators and the atmosphere they create in the space. In choosing this focus motif, our young painter takes on a great challenge: to weave nothing more and nothing less than a hermeneutic of the behaviour of contemporary subjects in the temples of art, as well as of their concrete interaction with the works.
The singularity of this process, unlike the sociological research that analyzes empirical data in order to propose theoretical readings, is that the hermeneutic process of comprehension through which the artist questions the phenomenon of reception is carried out and concretized in the materialization of an aesthetic reality that is in turn open to the comprehension of its potential receivers. In this way, Marlon's works place a mirror in front of the spectator, they function as an invitation for the latter to get involved in a process of recognition and self-understanding of the way in which it relates to art.
Looking at the works in this Museum series, we can recognize several characteristic features, apparently behavioral matrices of a globalized contemporaneity. The ubiquitous presence of cell phones, the vision mediated by digital screens, the obsession with documenting the instant; the light, casual clothing, the quasi-tourist image of the spectators; the dynamics of leisure, the indifferent wandering of many individuals; the crossing of glances in all directions; people who converse and others who take a minute on a bench to make a call or take a breath and continue the cultural marathon; and some absorbed faces, possessed by the experience that isolates them towards an intimacy with the work.
Those faces are the most difficult to represent. How to express pictorially what a person is feeling or thinking in front of a work of art? In that effort of pictorial comprehension to give us faces through which we can imagine a foreign aesthetic experience, Marlon has found a representational grammar of great effectiveness. In those works where the spectators look towards an imaginary point of the fourth wall, the imaginary wall of the theatre stage, the faces and the corporal expression, everything remains in a frontal way before our sight; and we are the ones who occupy the subjective space of the work that hypothetically is looked at from inside the painting. This representational artifice creates a dialectic of the gaze that, while converting us into subjects of perception, also places us in the subjective position of object of the gaze of the characters represented by Marlon. We scrutinize their attitudes, we interrogate their gazes, we imagine what they are experiencing before those iconic works referenced by the titles; and they look at us and place us in front of the mirror of self-understanding.

Notes about Grand Tour


Notes about Grand Tour
Gladys Garrote
January, 2017

One July morning I received the first landscape that Marlon gave me. The Californian sunset came to me in prose and full of ambiguities - proper of those who can't capture the wonder but try.
I was fascinated by the fact that this young man, born in a region of outstanding nature, was struck by the quasi-mystic delicacy of the North American west coast. But it works like this: when perception is shaken by high contrasts, the spirit is moved.
During that summer I had the opportunity to corroborate it. Anxious I received daily in my mailbox extensive descriptions of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Corona del Mar; I moved from the coastal areas to the suburbs, and then I entered the chromatic and sonorous variations of the Latin neighborhoods. Marlon gave me that foreign nature that had passed through the sieve of its shocks; what was reconstructed was not processed by objective thought, rather it resulted from the sensory frenzy, from the excitement of the senses. It was premature, immediate, unconnected, chaotic...; it reflected the impression that the new explored medium produced in his sensibility.
Man and nature came to me merged. He imposed feeling on reason: he presented the imprecise environment in order to reveal himself in his spiritual dimension.

Sharing his experience as an explorer also allowed me to see a particular image of Marlon. Such honesty made it difficult for me to reciprocate. It was then up to me to reveal to him the parallels I found between his experiences and my references. We exchanged thoughts about the journey, about how it had manifested itself in art, about the transcendental figure of the traveller for the completion of the notion of the world...
I remember specially the connection I established between Marlon and the romantic travellers of the 19th century. For me, his approach to the landscape was loaded with that impulse that prioritized global impression over scientific detail. He, like them, merged with the medium to generate a personal vision of what was lived.
That connection became even more evident when, once in Cuba, he gave me his impression of the landscape with the help of tools that were, through training and academia, much more familiar to him. With New York, Italy, California and Germany, he captivated me thanks to the same romantic spirit of his prose, but from the intimacy of study, essay and chromatic experimentation in small format painting.

The paintings, as well as their verbal constructions manage to make manifest the particular relationship between subject/environment, subject/nature other people; but unlike those, they start from the intellectual processing, from the calm that comes with reflection. However, such calm does not necessarily imply definition, concretion: their pictorial productions resemble memory; like memory, they give away diffuse fragments that review sensations provoked by the landscape: they seek to reconstruct the lived experience, but not to represent the space where the experience is lived.
That is why the pictorial result renounces the common places of the cities motifs -all well-known regions, highly visited-, almost rejects them; it discards the landmark, and bets for the indeterminate, for the non distinctive space, the uninhabited one. Marlon dissipates the connection with the referent and approaches the abstract to evoke the metaphysical of habitable space. He reconstructs atmospheres associated with the city and the climate in accordance with the season of the year in which he was present; and those atmospheres, at the same time as they allow the link of the pieces with the motif cities, generate a new visual-aesthetic and poetic experience for the observer.
In spite of the dissipation of the referents, it is possible to find in his paintings figures that recur. Particularly appropriate are those that inevitably speak of travel: bridges, tunnels, docks, trains (both the representations seen from the train and the means of transport itself), stations, airports, cemeteries, are evocative of a perennial existential spring. From their condition of places of transit - in direct association with the pictorial lightness with which they are constructed - they function as metonymies of the journey in constant becoming, change, inapprehensible metamorphosis. His paintings speak of travel, through landscape, as a material displacement directly associated with individual freedom.

Grand Tour is a monumental exhibition. More than 600 pieces take possession of the gallery, its walls and ceilings. It overwhelms the immensity of the whole and the impossibility of apprehending it; it oppresses the painting and one feels invited to be present in a space full of testimony and experience. All that remains is to try to revive it (the artist experience) and let the attraction provoked by certain stimuli bring us closer to punctual units, to fragments of an experienced environment, and the rest to feel it as a new atmosphere, as a self-referential macro-landscape, as evidence that the way to capture the marvel is random but passable.

About Grand Tour


About Grand Tour
Hamlet Fernández
Comment for Noticiero Cultural de Cuba.
November 27, 2017

In the Galiano Gallery painting has invaded walls and ceilings, but not because of the large dimensions of the pieces, or because it has been painted on the surfaces. The young artist Marlon Portales has produced hundreds of small canvases, inspired by his travels in several countries, and by what he left behind in his retina, in his camera and in his memory.
"Grand tour", the exhibition I am telling you about, functions as the pictorial record of the artist's cultural experience. But it is not merely a documentary record, a mechanical transfer of photographic images to the medium of painting. More complex processes mediate this creative exercise. Between the photographic references that Marlon may have used, and the small-format oils that constitute the final result, the emotional energy of memory seems to have intervened as a filter.
The first thing that impacts our sight when entering the Galiano Gallery, besides the museum display, is the rich diversity of chromatic tonalities, a spill of color and dissimilar effects that extends throughout the gallery. The curatorship, in charge of Gladys Garrote, configured sets that create effects similar to those of large grid screens with a flow of small images.
But the general visuality and morphologies that these sets create are only the large planes that we receive at a certain distance. At the beginning of the tour we must approach the works, and with them to the individual influx of rural landscapes, seascapes, views of cities, streets, bridges, buildings; a great variety of environments, each resolved with a different pictorial solution.
This is precisely one of the most enjoyable aspects of the exhibition, and one of the artist's greatest achievements. Because the display of imaginative ingenuity that gives a specific poetic tone to each view, and the technical capacity to construct them pictorially, are really meritorious.
The seasons of the year are an atmospheric conditioner that marks differences between the series. More intense and colorful, rich in textures are spring and summer in New York, Italy and California; and paler and diffuse are fall and winter in Germany and New York.
However, I think it's more emotional than atmospheric. Each of these landscapes could be a correlate of the emotional photography that was engraved in the artist's mind at the moment he enjoyed each place with his own eyes. It is as if the state of mind that generates an intense aesthetic experience ends up modelling in the imagination the visuality of the perceptual stimulus that triggered the original experience.
That is why the miniature landscapes of Marlon Portales have nothing to do with the realistic, reliable documentation of the place where one was. On the contrary, they seem to be emotional constructs of memory, which the artist knows how to crystallize into pictorial beauty of great evocative power.
The color is protagonist, intense, varied, unfolded in infinity of shades. The figuration is generally diffuse, in some cases more iconic, in others gravitating almost towards abstraction. And there are so many windows to those peculiar universes, that it seems impossible to disembark with the sight in each port, and to remain there, in the pure contemplation.

Commentary for Cultural News of Cuba.
Issued November 27, 2017

Marlon Portales: from language to perception.


Marlon Portales: from language to perception.
Magali Espinosa
2014

Performance is one of the creative aspects ascribed to contemporary art that has not ceased to have a presence in Cuban art over the last two decades. However, in the work of the artist Marlon Portales, the performatic act is presented to us as an action filmed by the video camera, thus becoming a video performance, whose main characteristic will be to transform the artistic work into an analytical exercise, loaded with anthropological and social contents.
Mimetic gestures, the multiplication of his figure, and the imprint, become the foundation of bodily actions through which his poetry makes language a diffuse zone, since his works do not rest precisely on linguistic conventions typical of art analytics, but on the appropriation of language facts that make sense in those actions. These are constructive resources of aesthetic value through which he organizes the structure of his works.
In this way his analytics are tricky, because it is not a question of reflecting on the capacity of language to think about its own structures, but on the possibilities of leading it towards situations based on repetitions and reiterations that make impossible any understanding of what is expressed by the texts, in such a way that the communication evaporates before the redundancy of the gesture that contains it.
Her performances are based on different critical postures that do not accommodate, nor are they exhausted, after the poetic gestures that derive from her dances with language.
Let's start by approaching the work Zen for my head (2012) from the series Repeat it once so you don't forget it, Homage to Nam June Paik, this gravitates in the automatic action of writing this phrase on itself on a blackboard, until it covers all the available space, making its reading inaccessible, it finishes it by rubbing his head on it, until the text disappears swallowed by his face, which has been marked by the chalk, with which it was written. The conceptual symbiosis is embodied when the sentence is passed on to the artist's body.
To the same series and year belongs the piece I must not betray myself as an artist. Homage to Ives Klein, in which he once again assumes the constructive principles mentioned above, as if chanting that phrase settled a debt of gratitude with that master of modern analytics. In any class, the artist complies with the punishment, resting his hands, shoulders and torso on the blackboard, closing the action with this bodily signature.
The work Yo solo soy un ejército (2012) of the series, Avant Garde no longer exhibits words, although the automatic gesture does. This consists of delineating his own figure again and again, until forming a human conglomerate, of a hedonism that symbolizes the immense power of the one who is capable of multiplying on himself, while in Regurgitador (2013) of the series Pensamiento Democrático, he transfers that principle of repetition to digitalized action. From his mouth sprouts the word discourse that traces a diagonal to be later swallowed by the artist himself. This gestural succession ends with the emanation of a powerful jet of letters that open in the shape of a fan, in a burst that gradually disappears. A beautiful cascade of letters, accumulated one on top of the other, turning the eventuality of the discourse into a failed gesture.
In the work Expanded Consciousness, from the series Incontinent Body (2013), the support is replaced by a white plane on which the artist with his back delineates his figure, repeating it in such a way that when it is extended it covers all the available space. The body increases in size and becomes more powerful. There is no face, no gesture, and yet such a regeneration of the image gives the impression of an energy that advances without stopping.
They are actions that reach beauty, mutilating under its litany the communication with the spectator. Marlon sentence: How is our mimetic envelope condensed in a context in which ideological currents mark the guidelines of our behavior? (1) Art passes through the body and language, and the result is condensed in performatic gestures whose senses are revealed in the title of the pieces, although those gestures end up closing the way to the spectator.

1-Note extracted from the artist's dossier.

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