As part of its mission, Florida National University is privileged to enrich the Hispanic community by presenting an extraordinary Cuban artist.
Damien Cruz was born and raised in Havana. He currently lives and works in Miami, Florida where he received the honor of being selected by the Florida governor as the featured artist for the 2011 National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in Florida. Damien participated in two simultaneous exhibitions at the State Capitol Rotunda and the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. He is also a featured artist in Miami Talent Magazine and was recently selected to paint for the Heineken Art Crawl Festival. As a young teenager, he was accepted at the prestigious San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana and that’s where the journey began…“In my Paintings I reflect my experiences and my emotions. In most cases the subject matter is based on both my memories of Cuban landscapes and my imagination. The present collection is a sample of works created over the past several years.”
With a combination of three themes, the exhibition seeks to enlighten the community by displaying a series of paintings that examine human values through a profound use of lines, colors, and light.
- The first theme “Cityscapes,” launches with delicate lighting and warm palettes to engage the viewer in a poetic and tangible tale about Havana city life. In “Green Village” “Red Light District” and ”Sunset City” the artist fills up the canvases with a rhythmical pile of elongated doors and windows to convey a sense of crowdedness and urban suffocation. The story continues to absorb the spectator by showing the diversity and pluralism of Havana city manifesting in a parade of cheerful hues, acid shades, and cutting shapes in “Fishing at Sunset” “Boy playing the Trumpet” and “Strolling in Havana.” With a distorted perspective, muddy pigments, and acerbic outlines, the story finishes persuading the viewer to taste the daily ephemeral fun of Havana residents in “Man in a Bike” “Children playing at Barrio” and “Fishing at Malecon.”
- The second theme “Music” escorts the viewer inside a flashy arena crammed with ruthless colors and intense characters as seen in “Blue Jazz” and “The Bassist”. Harsh sloping strokes depict a touch of modern and urbane air that entices the viewer into a groovy mood. The feeling continues in “Conga” and “The Musicians” where sharp overlapping figures and saturated contrasting tones produce a sweaty, congested, and irresistible atmosphere. Right before the spicy melodies vanish, “Three Musicians” nourish the observer with a perfect triad, a harmonious and synchronized display of violent primary colors and a hazy sarcastic contouring of dehumanized singers. “Four Winds” concludes the flamboyant spectacle with a refined hint of steadiness and symmetry among crude brushstrokes and caustic green tones.
- A realm of sensations is unlocked in the third theme “Sins.” Here the artist agitates and provokes the spectator’s mind and body beyond the limits. “Forbidden Sins” carries a sense of fragmented and degraded society showing groups of detached pairs in front of a cathedral. The use of eroding reds and blues stimulates the observer to halt and think, to ponder on how young generations (suggested in the growing plants) need to reform themselves nowadays, on how people need to absorb the bond of believing in God. True love is vanished! The decadent environment is supported by overloading anonymous characters that seem to climb on each other’s longings and appetites. The trace is augmented in “Full Moon” where feelings of despair and repents reveal in a colossal reflective young girl that covers half of a full moon from the spectator. The presence of arbitrary tones and grotesque brush strokes censure the viewer for sneaking in her private cosmos.
In this exhibition, Damien’s brushwork leaves a mindful hallmark in our thoughts. He pulls us into a circle of resonant reflections that immediately draws us into a captivating saga of human emotions.