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Jose Angel Vincench, "A.F.S.," oil and mixed media on canvas, 59" x 59".
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Jose Angel Vincench, "O.P.H.," oil and mixed media on canvas 59" x 59".
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Jose Angel Vincench, "P.P.A.R.," oil and mixed media on canvas 59" x 59".
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"Behind the Abstract at Axis Contemporary Art"
Gallery view, Jose Angel Vincench: Behind the Abstract at Axis Contemporary Art.
JOSE ANGEL VINCENCH, Behind the Abstract
Axis Contemporary Art, Calgary
Feb 15 – 28, 2007
By Wes Lafortune
Cuban artist, José Angel Vincench’s artwork speaks eloquently for those who are unable. Behind the Abstract (Abstracto parece pero no es- It seems Abstract but it is not) is an exhibition of paintings by the Havana-based artist, recently shown at Axis Contemporary Art in Calgary.
Vincench presents highly charged imagery that comments on Cuba’s political history, from the time communist forces overthrew Fulgencio Batista’s government on Jan. 1, 1959 until present day.
To create the work in this show, Vincench takes newspaper articles and places them on the canvases to literally serve as a foundation of text. He then covers the sections of the papers with blocks of paint to create pixel-like portraits of Cubans identified only by their initials, or not at all.
In one painting titled V.R.A.C., the masthead from the newspaperJuventud Rebelde – The Newspaper of Cuban Youth –is used. Surfacing from underneath the layers of paint are pictures of the editors of the newspaper, depicted in caricatures.
In another quadrant of the same painting is a photograph of a young female soldier that captures her smiling at an older male compatriot. The image, viewed in the context of this work, is chilling and leaves the distinct impression that all is well for Cubans as long as they’re wearing the camouflage of the army. Step back and view the painting in its entirety and the details contained in the news articles dissolve into the larger unrecognizable figure that contains them.
In another work, Dr. J.P.G., a fragment of headline pokes through the paint that Vincench has applied. One word emerges that carries a potent meaning – Fidel.
Born in Holguin and trained as a painter and photographer at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Vincench has become well-known in Cuba’s capital city for his paintings with religious themes. More recently he’s gained the attention of European collectors who have rightfully recognized the gravitas of his creations. Outside of Cuba the artist’s paintings have been shown in Switzerland, Ecuador and now Canada.
By placing the words and images of government-sponsored newspapers together with amorphous portraits of Cuban activists, José Angel Vincench delivers works of art that give a voice to those who would otherwise be silenced.