Interview with Young Cuban Painter Luis Alberto Saldaña

Helson  Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES — His paintings have a profound visual impact, capturing us with thought-provoking realism. “In my work, the sea is the stage,” Luis Alberto Saldaña tells us during his interview for Havana Times.

HT: Has painting always been your means of artistic expression?

Luis Alberto Saldaña: I’ve experimented with other visual arts, but I always go back to painting. I don’t know whether it’s because I cling to the dream I had as a kid, that I would become painter, or because I identify more with this art form. It reflects what I am and feel – and what I want to express – more fully.

HT: How would you define your work from the perspective of the spectator?

LAS: As a pictorial work arising from and inviting reflection, capable of giving impetus to the mystical revelations and contradictions of human beings.

HT: How important is photography in this pictorial work?

LAS: Photographs are a tool for retaining a moment we wish to capture, a true copy of nature or reality. It is only a means to an end in my work, where I play with those real elements but re-codify them to produce new meaning within personal contexts.

HT: You do not have the privilege of living in the capital.

LAS: As in all underdeveloped countries, the capital is the best place to promote and develop the work of any artist who, like me, hopes to find a place in the catalogues of renowned Cuban artists. Though Guines, the town of my birth, fancies itself a city and is a place of renowned artists, one’s work stays there, in Guines. Managing to take one’s work to a more demanding public, to a place where it can be divulged and promoted more broadly, complements the talented work that a young artist may be exhibiting.

HT: Is the motif of the sea a means of fulfilling a personal dream?

LAS: In my work, the sea is the stage, the main character or backdrop of my paintings. The fact of the matter is that we are the sea, we are the island. That is our reality, those are our borders, our way of living and of dreaming, beyond the sea.

HT: What thoughts would you like those who approach your work to walk away with?

LAS: I want them to be reminded of the fragility and grandness of everything that surrounds us, to go beyond what they imagine and take the risk of being at the right place, represented, or to be the witnesses and main characters of the work, if only for a brief moment. Humanity and nature, or nature and humanity and its effort to find a place in it, questions, fascination, strivings and frustrations in physical spaces that we have traversed at one point.

HT: What role do you believe young artists from your generation play within Cuba’s current art scene?

LAS: To have an impact on Cuban society and the art scene is difficult for the young artists of my generation. Not everyone who studied with me is doing art. There are some, like me, who make an effort to avoid making the elitist selection and promotion of their work in the market be the motivation for their work, an attitude that prevails in the most important galleries and agencies. It’s clear one can become a part of that elite with constant hard work, as one becomes more and more professional in one’s work.

HT: Will you continue to portray the sea in your creative work?

LAS: It’s hard to answer that, as I can’t imagine what my creative interests will be in the future. Right now, I have a lot to say, and that sea is the boundless source of my inspiration.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.