Agustín Bejarano: Arcana and Demiurges (+ Photos) • Workers

Since he began to venture into art, an exercise that goes back to his childhood, the painting —like the engraving and sculpture— of Agustín Bejarano Caballero (Camagüey, 1964), has had a very humanist conception, whose theses are anchored in his origins and universal culture through a symbology with diverse representations that derive, generally, in works that place him as an essayist of his time, and also of the space lived by his ancestors. The creation of his parallel worlds are structured with the magic of his drawings subordinated to a technique that awakens the consciousness of others.

Such considerations transcend after enjoying his most recent personal exhibition, which under the suggestive title of The arcana of the Demiurge, It is currently being presented at the Collage Habana gallery in the capital, where thirteen of his most recent creations are installed, offering the viewer the possibility of abandoning themselves to the mystery, of penetrating —or awakening— before known universes; as thoughts and tautologies expressed in different ways. Each of his paintings establishes a dialogue that urges us to feel a return, a reflective and critical look at the past, the present and the future.

Recreational Archaeology, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

Reaching the other dimension, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

Crash landing, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

When my table is twisted, 2021. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

In his words included in the exhibition catalogue, this artist emphasizes: “When conceiving the structure of the works that would make up this exhibition, I took into account the diverse and wide range of suggestions and sinuosities that have characterized the works and shaped the spectrum of The Rites of Silence series. This extensive record has allowed me to create and maintain a diverse and motivating language, it has also enabled each exhibition or segment of this macro series to have independence and coherence at the same time, continuing with the novelty as a premise.

The Arcana of the Demiurge —he adds— he does it from the intimacy that the interior scenes allow, where architecture is co-author of the dialogue proposed by the paintings. This series arose from some drawings that I made in the United States and that I grouped under the title Interiors. Large format canvases, painted with acrylic or mixed technique, define the supports that I have been using for years; this series is not exempt from that monumental character.

While the clouds go by, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

The Heart of Jesus, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

Docks of Glory II, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

Walls as landscapes, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

From his iconic series the rites of silenceInitiated in 2002, all of Bejarano’s subsequent creation establishes a substantial introspection into the inner life of man, into his problems and customs. Each work that emerges has the distinctive seal of originality, by recreating codes inherent to the contemporary individual through testimonies and traces that also have to do with religious themes, both Christian and Catholic, as well as African heritage, in addition to his reflections on to the intimate life of the Cuban home, with its remote reminiscences, in a cosmos made up of family experiences that have to do with illusions, beliefs, setbacks, loves and adversities, matters that he does not refer to as a chronicler or historian, but as he who really is, a great painter.

Abram Bravo Guerra, curator of the exhibition, in the words of the catalog affirms that this creator “illly paints the dramas of confinement, the objects that still smell of times gone by, the stranded boats of those who remain, the tables for ten in the ones that one has lunch, the stairs that descend, the armchairs in the living room, the old painting of the grandmother, the city that from the inside tastes like another that is no longer there —or never was. Like a Havana De Chirico, he transports the emptiness of classical structures to interiors repeated ad nauseam in the insular landscape”.

In The arcana of the Demiurge the tiny character who was born with The Rites of Silence. Simple, often pensive and crestfallen. Such a figure that synthesizes island society, here he acquires the significance of a demiurge, who projects his meditation from an armchair, a table, a space in the home to become an architect or soul that relives its own history in its closed space. According to its etymology, the demiurge (from the Greek let’s givetown, and ergon work: creator, artisan) is a “supreme craftsman” and a master, a term that in ancient Greek was applied to the worker or craftsman in general, a premise that Bejarano takes up again to identify this mystical entity that appears, time and time again, narrating stories , moving ideas and, above all, serving as a motivator of sensibilities and emotions among the spectators.

Shipwreck, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

Requiem, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200 cm.

Salon Primavera, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

According to Plato, the demiurge builds the universe in the likeness of ideas. He possesses every type of magic there is, as well as other mystical and supernatural forces; attributes that this teacher emphasizes in his pictorial thesis; in which the little man in his compositions is a maker or an organizer of a reality grounded in the past, exposed in monumental paintings in which wonder and ecstasy also merge.

This figure, of transcendental importance in the interpretation of these paintings, has its own Arcana (from Latin, arcānus), related to a secret, hidden, reserved thing or subject. It is a hidden and mysterious energy that can divine or prophesy the future, as happens in the arcana that refer to the 78 cards that make up the tarot deck. That, precisely, is the psychological role of this tiny little man.

Smoke signals, 2022. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200cm.

in his book Creatività e pensiero laterale, manuale di pratica alla fantasia (Creativity and lateral thinking, fantasy practice manual), the eminent Maltese psychologist and writer, father of the so-called Lateral Thinking, Edward De Bono (1933-2021), argues that “(…) creativity is surrounded by a mystical aura, in the manner of a mysterious talent, which is perhaps justifiable in the world of art, which demands aesthetic sensitivity, emotion, and an innate capacity for expression, but has less reason to exist in other fields”. From a very young age, before graduating from the National School of Art (ENA) specializing in Painting, in 1984, and from the Higher Institute of Art (ISA), in 1989, in Engraving, Bejarano makes creativity a catalyst, which it has made it possible for each of his works to become, as well as extraordinary, memorable; in which serene and harmonious atmospheres unquestionably intervene, where tranquility intervenes in conjunction with the technique he uses.

According to the artist, “this series arose from some drawings that I made in the United States and that I grouped together under the title of interiors. Large format canvases, painted with acrylic or mixed technique, define the supports that I have been using for years; this series is not exempt from that monumental character. Once again, migration, diaspora, uprooting and other burdens that come with being detached from the maternal home, understand the family as the fundamental cell of society and the environment, where the original base is formed and the cultural genesis of being is structured”.

Vocation, 2023. Acrylic on canvas. 156 x 200 cm.

In The arcana of the Demiurge, conceived as the culmination of the celebrations for the two decades of The Rites of Silence, we are witnessing a new proposal from an artist who has cultivated his spirituality by redefining his attitude, his way of conceiving life and producing art through a ritual of reflections and human self-recognition. “This exhibition —expresses the maestro— is a love song for what is ours, for values ​​that belong to us and are a matter of pride. That is what my “Interiors” are about, the wide range of meanings in each segment treated. I don’t say anything about the subject, I leave the dialogue open based on the suggestive language of each painting”.

Agustín Bejarano: Arcana and Demiurges (+ Photos) • Workers