In his new series of paintings titled “Paisajes Incomodos” cuban artist Angel Delgado explores a theme constantly present throughout his work: the human condition and its relationship to the notions of freedom and identity. In this occasion, Delgado presents a series of paintings that far from the traditional idea of landscape, they constitute a view, indeed, but of rather a social panorama of what one would call modern societies. By juxtaposing everyday objects, aerial views of prisons and human silhouettes, the artist creates a composition that evokes a state of alienation. The individual seems utterly reduced to a series of social codes, to which he is, nevertheless, inextricably bonded.
Delgado proposes to think about one’s identity as the result of a particular experience determined by a reality that is constituted not only physically but mentally. Delgado himself assures that his work does not reveal whether the figure represents the inmate in his cell longing freedom or the common citizen feeling imprisoned. What emerges from that tension is precisely a break in the logic of a system. Delgado’s figures lack spatial specificity precisely because they remain in that shadow-like zone. The physical space of enclosure where mobility is restricted is also the enclosed space of repression. With a Foucaultian gesture, the artist makes us aware of a reality that is not marked by bars or walls but by cultural or ideological concepts. The artist ultimately proposes to reconsider the structures through which contemporary societies are organized and how they develop paranoid and suspicious of the very idea of freedom they construct.
In Delgado’s new series there is also the presence of those wandering figures we so often encounter in the streets of any major city: the homeless. Here, Delgado seems to shift perspective as he goes from the enclosed space to explore the idea of mobility. The homeless, that eternal nomad, is an anonymous figure, an individual reduced to his precarious condition. With the homeless, which is not the same thing as the houseless, the artist invites us to think about the idea of place beyond the notion of physical space. Space is abstract and open but place is structured, limited and social. That is precisely why the homeless is perceived as being displaced or out of place. His condition represents a rupture with the social and moral expectations as those are directly associated with the idea of place. The anonymous traveler, carrying a suitcase, seems to enter in a dialogue with the homeless who transports his belongings on a shopping cart. And once more, one is left with the juxtaposition of these two figures, one longing for a place and the other one in a continuous attempt to escape from it.
Delgado, who just recently moved to Las Vegas, evokes the theme of transitory space so often associated to this peculiar city and invites us to reflect on how our reality, as it is physically and mentally constructed, shapes and defines our perception. These landscapes are uncomfortable indeed because in them the individual seems to be powerless. Among lines, color, transparencies and superpositions these faceless figures speak to us of something of the human condition and our struggle to make sense of the reality we construct.
Patricia Ortega Miranda
September 26, 2014