Nelson Domínguez, Fósiles de la Memoria

Nelson Dominguez, Fossils of the Memory

Last modified: February 7, 2023

In front of the work of Nelson Dominguez (painter, draftsman, illustrator, engraver, ceramist and sculptor), National Prize of the Plastic Arts 2009, we have the unequivocal impression of being before something original, unique; something unbeatable beyond the meaning that the style seems to have in art. Since he understood from the beginning that in this dimension it is important not to cling to one single line, but to try to find the manner in which the techniques relate with each other to form a kind of unity that makes the creator’s work become more organic.

Nelson Dominguez (Baire, Santiago de Cuba, 1949) is like a chemist that tries to find reactions and investigates the matters tirelessly. An experimenter that, with talent and luck, goes through the most varied techniques, using interesting expressive resources. In them he finds the exact words to “send” messages to the spectator. It could be said that surfaces do not resist his artistic attacks.

Over the years he has conquered the mastery in the job. Making an analysis of his work’s morphology, it can be said that he has travelled through the poetic imagination, the neo-expressionism, but he has always put an emphasis on that visual texture. His adventures into the world of wood and lino engraving woke up the desire for texture and relief. The beings that fill his creations with a particular atmosphere also appear in these works. There are imaginative local customs, faces, fantastic impressions based on animals; all with a singular beauty. His art in plural can be “tasted” in his wide studio-gallery Los Oficios (Oficios 166 between Amargura and Teniente Rey, Old Havana), in the old part of the city, near the Havana Malecón, where you will find thousands of creative reasons to be amaze by…

Nelson Dominguez studied at the National Art School (ENA) and at the Superior Art Institute of Havana (ISA), where he has been a professor and Head of the Painting Department. His pictorial work, deeply intimate and full of atmospheres, reaches canvas, ceramics, sculptures, engravings, illustrations… in which he preserves those unknown universes, reflections of his own spirit. And if we intend to decipher the meanings, the reception must be open and must come from our life experiences. His work is figurative, although at times it acquires certain notes of abstraction, all of this marked by the wisdom of the color and a sharp drawing, which moves harmoniously from the elemental evocation of the objects and figures, to a free and pure undulation.

Watching these pieces, a total break among the different moments of his work is not observed. There is something internal (telluric and mysterious) that touches his paintings, very close to the roots and the traditions. They are metaphors that come from a personal imaginative vocabulary that he took from the Cuban painting of a preceding period, and the exuberant morphology of our geographic environment. In his plastic work, Nelson Dominguez uses technique as means to achieve creative and poetic purposes. He mixes frequently the intelligent provocation with the lyricism or the fantasy game. And he is not afraid of the virtuous reproduction of the work that others made before him, as in this way he introduces a new intention in his work that modifies the artistic discourse and projects feelings.

Through his long time working, he has hundreds of personal exhibitions, and he had participated in tens of collective ones in Cuba and in other countries. His work is part of public and private collections in Japan, United States of America, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Argentine, Chile, Brazil, Panama, the Netherlands, Sweden… and in diverse Cuban institutions.

Toni Piñera
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Journalist for more than 30 years at the Granma newspaper, art and dance critic, professor at the National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, curator of Cuban art exhibitions (former director of the La Acacia gallery, Havana), poet.

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