Ariamna Contino and Alex Hernández
Montréal ~ Habana
Curators: Lillebit Fadraga, Christina Figueroa Vives and Gretel Medina
Ariamna Contino lives and works in Havana, where she teaches engraving at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts. Between 2004 and 2007, she specialized in the mediums of engraving, photography and audiovisual production. Her work has been presented in several solo and group exhibitions in Cuba, Panama, Germany, the United States, Chile and Austria. Her two major series of works, Arsenal and Camino al Eden, address the issues of political violence and drug trafficking in South America and the United States. Contino and her art and life partner, Alex Hernández, represent Cuba for the 2019 Venice Biennale.
Alex Hernández lives and works in Havana, where he is a member of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. He holds a degree in Visual Arts from the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts (2004) and the Havana Higher Institute of Art (2010). Through painting, sculpture and video, Hernández's works explore the complexity of individual and collective identity formed through material culture. His work has been presented in several Cuban national galleries, as well as in Germany, the United States, Peru and the Venice Biennale.
Originally from Havana, Ariamna Contino and Alex Hernandez propose a series of works where abstraction, traces, motifs and cut-outs become a statistical transcription of factual events. The artists, who work together at times as well as solo, present a decidedly committed practice. Scrutinizing issues raised by different geopolitical, social or economic situations on the world stage. Artists, witnesses and critics of these events, Contino and Hernandez propose visual interventions where the plastic and aesthetic treatment of the materials reveals troubling facts. As part of the Montréal~Habana, three bodies of work as well as a piece that stands alone fill the space of the gallery.—Through the Militancia estética series, the artists examine information as broadcast and shared in the public space. They offer a transcription by isolating certain sensitive elements. Phenomena such as drug trafficking, the economy, migration and war are represented through cut-outs: colored in, punched through and superimposed. The title of each work becomes a source of information and offers insight into the works.—A fine line stretched to the horizon Expansión (2017) proposes a representation of the geopolitical changes of country borders, as laid down through treaties, conventions and agreements (i.e. NATO, the Warsaw pact, etc).—To echo this work, eight pieces of the series Armonía by Alex Hernandez (2014-2016) gives us a glimpse of the redistribution of parliament seats of different governmental structures. —It is solely Ariamna Contino's piece, Escuchando en silencio (2017), which plays a different register. " Listening in silence ". Stretched on the wall, a piano wire controlled by a motto produces an almost imperceptible sound. Here the artist is interested in the processes at work involved in the construction of knowledge, including doubt that allows a questioning of the consensus, be it scientific, cultural or political: That which allows the constant transformation of our ideas and actions, such as the expansion of the universe which we have not finished observing, hearing nor understanding.
Text summary by Marthe Carrier