Galleria Continua has the pleasure of presenting – for the first time in Italy – a solo show by Yoan Capote. Born in 1977 in Cuba, he started working at the end of the Nineties, reaching artistic maturity during the “Special Period”.
Sujeto Omitido (Omitted Subject) presents a selection of works that signalled Yoan Capote’s entry into the international artistic ‘establishment’: various paintings from the series Island and a group of sculptures which have marked out the development of the artist, and which are principally inspired by objects, images and body parts that aim to evoke the presence of the individual in contrast with absence or the anonymous condition. “Our body is full of symbols and expressions, the representation of which has shaped a large part of the history of art from its very beginnings (…) I feel that there are ideas or experiences that can better be expressed through the representation of the body or through the body itself,” explains Yoan Capote. He continues: “I am greatly attracted by everything to do with psychology and by the way in which it permits us to reflect not only on internal individual conflicts but also on the social or collective environment… This allows me to broaden my analysis, taking it from a local scale to one that is more essential or universal.”
Each of the works shown focuses mainly on reflections regarding conflicts and shared issues in which the identity of the subject is not important or comes second to more global and collective considerations. Migration, resistance, manipulation, stress and alienation are all common experiences for humans today, independently of differences in context. Sculptures like those entitled Stress, Self-portrait, Speechless, Abstinencia evokes a sense of anonymity, where collective experience determines or expands the individual concerns. Its physicality reinforce a symbolic use of materials, gravity and interaction with the viewer, something that it is even appreciated in his series of fish hooks paintings.
“The sea is an obsession for any island population… when I was a child, I would look at the horizon and imagine the world beyond it,” recounts Capote. “For Cubans, the sea represents the seductive side of these dreams, but also danger and isolation.” The paintings from the series Island are born out of reflecting on an expression used during the Cold War to indicate the separation, both territorial and ideological, between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe – the ‘iron curtain’:
“those borders, often thick with barbed wire and walls, made me think of the way in which the sea played the role of wall for the Cubans,” states the artist. Large-scale creations using fish hooks and oil on canvas, Yoan Capote’s seascapes are conceived as a progressive installation: a continuous sequence of one same horizon, in which each painting is a fragment which captures a different moment in terms of light or darkness. “I wanted to use thousands of hooks to create a surface which gradually became tangible as the spectators got closer; I wanted to recreate the tactile experience of standing in front of a metal fence. The fish hook is an ancient tool whose design has remained unchanged over the centuries; it can be a symbol of seduction but also one of entrapment. The process of creating these works is very interesting because for me, painting and the movement of the brushstrokes embodies the sense of the artist’s individual freedom, and this is completely cut off by the areas with the fish hooks (…) which limit the areas of colour just as political conflict limits subjective freedom,” Capote concludes.
Yoan Capote was born in Pinar del Rio (Cuba) in 1977. He lives and works in Havana. After studying at the Provincial School of Art in Pinar del Rio and at the National School of Art (ENA), he moved to Havana in 1991 where he completed his artistic education at the Higher Institute of Art (ISA). During the 7th Havana Biennial (2000), he received the UNESCO award along with the DUPP artists’ collective. He took part in the Havana Biennial again in 2003, 2009, 2012 and 2019. In 2002 he won the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship and in 2006 grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Among his most recent exhibitions are: Landlords Colors, Cranbrook Art Museum, USA (2019); Cuba Libre, Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany (2016); On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection, Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA (2017); Art x Cuba – Contemporary Perspectives since 1989, Lugwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (2017); Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art, 1950-2015, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., USA; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA; the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA (2017); and Imagined Borders, Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, South Korea (2018). His first appearance in Italy was in 2011, at the 54th Venice Biennial in the Cuban Pavillion. His works are found in many collections, including: The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, Winter Park, USA; Beelden aan Zee Museum, The Hague, Holland; Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, USA; Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, USA; Daros Latinamerica AG, Zurich, Switzerland; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA; and the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, USA.