A Spectator in Front of his Living Statues

By Ivett de las Mercedes

HAVANA TIMES — At the entrance of San Francisco de Assis Convent, you can enjoy six out of the twelve characters created by artist Alberto Sanchez Castellon, where the body becomes a creative space. This performance art piece is based on poetics of the Clown and living statue techniques.

The atmosphere is welcoming, happiness is contagious: amazement, laughter, different opinions, gestures and gazes which multiply in front of the performers. Cameras enthusiastically click and capture these silent actors, created with love and resolve by this dedicated artist, who has 18 years of a career in the arts behind him. Our Lady of Good Success, The headless man, The Bronze Venus, The Martian, The Levitator and Claudio Jose Brindis de Sala celebrate themselves.

For the first time ever, the creator becomes a spectator of his own work and passionately watches the characters that suddenly appear like models of freedom on show, he notices that there are still some details that need to be ironed out. He knows that this experience will be definitive and rewarding. His eyes shine with a new light and he joins passers-by in their surprise, who crowd around amazed by his work.

The Levitator, a character who has become fashionable all over the world by other artists, has been one of the most important in his career. Considered to be his most intelligent work by many, it was born on the Malecon wall and gave results in 2015 with Levitando mi Habana, during the first traveling forum of Cuban art, organized by the Giganteria arts group, where he won 1st place.

Every project where sacrifice comes first bears fruit and its harvest day for him, not only in receiving the public’s acceptance, but also of his group, who gave him an award that they placed in the Levitator’s shadow.

A five-year cycle of researching, selecting and creating every character, buying materials, costumes, accessories, mentally preparing himself and discipline, have come to an end and a new cycle is beginning. Revisiting every character, showing the details which go unseen in photos.

Claudio Jose Brindis de Sala marked a time in his life.  He was working as a stilt walker in Old Havana when he discovered this character in the mural on Mercaderes street, the only black man who could enter high society. He worked very hard on this character and he was surprised when he discovered that he needed a real violin in order to achieve a greater resemblance.

The same applies to the Cigar cellar; he knows that children are the best audience and he doesn’t feel this is educational for them, in spite of being well received at different events relating to cigar culture. Festival del Habano, Feria del Turismo, Club Habana, Club de Fumadores, Casa del Habano, Feria del Turismo and hotel Habana Libre. The history of this character is very dear to him; his photo is the only one that exists of a cigar seller from the 19th century, but even so, he has an inner conflict with spreading it.

Alberto doesn’t oversee remembrance.  He has fond memories of when he went to Haiti to cheer up people who had lost everything in the 2010 earthquake. They called this kind of project “missions” in Cuba and it arose from an idea that Alexis Leyva Machado, Kcho, had been working on for years.

According to Alberto, taking part in these missions was an opportunity to give his support to those who needed it the most using art. His journey has been a long one, he has traveled all over the island to places hit by hurricanes: Camaguey, Guantanamo and the Isle of Youth, until the time came for him to travel to Haiti.

During his trip there, he thought that people had been hit so badly by Nature that they wouldn’t let themselves enjoy a street conga, or the colorful stilt walker show, much less the clowns, but he was taken aback by people’s gratefulness and the love children there showed them. When he returned to Cuba, he knew that he would never stop working for them.

Alberto Sanchez, artist, says between smiles that he will carry on working as long as he has the health to do so.

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