By Helson Hernandez
HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 25 — “I support the belief that all artistic manifestations — those in existence and those yet to be — as well as all styles and tendencies, are nothing more than the universal possibility of expanding the creator’s spirit,” said Cuban visual artist Francis Fernandez Trujillo in his interview with HT.
HT: Are you self-taught or did you go through a formal art program?
Francis Fernandez Trujillo: I have both self-taught and academic influences. I say that because ever since I was little I was influenced by my father, in the visual arts, but on the other hand I had a certain inclination within me to do the same. I used to draw and sketch while at the cinema, where I would copy the images. In time it was necessary for me to get into academia, where the world of visual arts began to prevail over me even more forcefully.
Have you always worked in painting or does your background include other modes in the visual arts.
FF: I’ve always had an inclination for painting, but I’ve specialized more in drawing. As the circumstances allow me, from time to time I try to improve upon all these processes. I also feel a spirit for creating things and reflecting my restlessness, but without feeling tied down to any one tendency, style or form. Sometimes I repeat things in order to affirm ideas, but not to end up conforming to them. I support the belief that all artistic manifestations, those in existence and those yet to be, as well as all styles and tendencies, are nothing more than the universal possibility of expanding the creator’s spirit.
Tell me about portraits in your work. In your creations I see faces that looked like photographs of people posing to have their images painted onto canvas, like in the old days.
FF: The human figure has always been in my painting in a symbolic manner, with more emphasis on portraits. This inclination expands.
The sense of spiritual and physical communication with the model permits me to capture not only human psychology as a method of learning, but it also enlarges my intellectual capacity – given the complex and wonderful manner that it possesses. I believe the human creation will never be surpassed by any animal or thing that surrounds it. That’s why it is the height of everything that exists on this beautiful planet. For those who wind up painting a portrait, it’s like opening a door to human sensitivity.
You are a member of the Fiesta of the Arts project, on Prado Boulevard, which is presided over by Cecilio Aviles. It’s a kind of big gallery under the sky in Havana, but with a street fair like style.
FF: Yes, approximately since the time I left academia…a few years ago. I joined the Prado project when it was directed back then by Godines, another Cuban creator. Then, after a period of new changes, there came the renowned caricaturist Cecilio Aviles to direct the project, which I again joined.
How has your participation benefitted this project, along with that of another group of visual arts creators?
FF: The purpose of the project consists of moving the artist’s studio into the street. In this way the public interacts with the artists and they participate in their creative process as visual spectators of the life process of the work and in its visual development. This allows me a broad relation of communication with society. Ideas and opinions are exchanged, not only between artists but between people who come into contact with visual culture. At the same time, it expands culture out into the city.
Tell me about some of the exhibits you’ve undertaken in your career…ones you consider important in your work.
FF: All my exhibits have always taught me lessons that have opened the way for me to continue working.
But some mark the differences, such as those that were portraits carried out for collective exhibits in homage to historical figures like Guayasamin, Chopin, Korda, Jose Marti, Che Guevara, and now more recently to Jose Lezama Lima, the Cuban writer. These made me commit to changing my perspective…both my visual and intellectual perspective.
How do you prefer to create during your work process? What atmosphere do you prefer when you conceive your work?
FF: Many artists need intimacy, music, stimulus and often inspiration. But it’s not always like that. In my particular case, I’ve had to make an extra effort to realize my works and almost always those of greater responsibility. I’ve painted the same way in the bathroom as outside my house or in the park. This is not because I wanted it this way, but due to circumstances that didn’t allow me to do otherwise; this has transformed me into a fugitive of creation. I can’t wait for some muse to come along; I prefer to incite inspiration so that it surprises me while working and so the evolutionary process will be greater.