Francois Truffaut in the Works of Cuban Painter Antonio Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Stolen Kisses by Antonio Nuñez
Stolen Kisses by Antonio Nuñez

HAVANA TIMES — Interestingly, I was first exposed to Francois Truffaut not through cinema but through painting.

At the beginning of the year, while studying the work of Cuban artist Antonio Nuñez (1971), I came across a series produced in 2009, in which different scenes from films by Buñuel, Godard, Truffaut and others are rendered on canvas.

Though I had heard of this filmmaker’s importance within the French New Wave, I hadn’t seriously sought out his films before seeing these paintings.

As luck would have it, Cuba’s Cinematheque screened a number of Truffaut’s films in January. This information also reached me by accident and, luckily, I was able to see two of his extraordinary films: Stolen Kisses (1968) and Bed and Board (1970).

Part of a group of films whose main character was Truffaut’s alter-ego Antoine Duanel, these movies narrate two periods in the life of this young dreamer, capturing the different ups-and-downs of the journey in which one discovers oneself as the world and human relations begin to reveal themselves.

Der Kuss by Antonio Nuñez
Der Kuss by Antonio Nuñez

Afterwards, I was able to get my hands on Truffaut’s classic The 400 Blows (1959), starring a teenage and loveless Antoine Duanel, masterfully portrayed by Truffaut’s favorite actor, Jean Pierre-Leaud.

Seeing these films, Nuñez’ paintings came back to me and the artist’s insinuations, subtleties and silences became all the more clear to me.

Antoine’s mother kissing a man on the street, Duanel’s pursuit of a woman, while working as a detective…the large-format paintings are covered by an explosion of colored papers, a kind of confetti that gives the canvas the appearance of a collage, bathing the characters, making the scenes and surroundings peculiar and every image mysteriously illegible.

According to Nuñez, these and other films of the sort reminded him a lot of Cuba while living in Germany, not only because of their gray atmospheres, beat-up streets and dilapidated architecture (all very typical of Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave), but also because of the slow pace of classic Cuban films, that spirit that “makes the ties that appear provisional eternal.”[1].

[1] One of the final lines in Francois Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses.

Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.