By Paula Henriquez
HAVANA TIMES – His creative process isn’t a simple visual representation to show his life-like charcoal drawings, but a kind of thesis where premonitions form part of these beings in his drawings, who reveal the unknown to the viewer.
It could be said that the shadows present in his work are voices crying out to be heard, dark shades that suggest a dramatic atmosphere which can mutilate or stress the mindset of the individuals in the frame.
Right now, Jordan Rojas Sanchez is drawn to faces, the mindset and experiences of the people he says have accompanied him throughout his life. He himself says that they are drawings with a metaphysical charge that stems from the constant face-off between light and shadow. They represent his earliest experiences, from his childhood, the way a child sees the world.
The young man, who is only 28 years old, seems to have found a way of expressing the feelings of these early experiences, but with a sharper and more mature perspective, nowadays. It is a way for him to exorcize his demons, he says.
This interview hopes to bring the young painter of modern-day Cuba to our readers. He isn’t the most renowned, but he is definitely just another example of the many young, and not-so-young, talents that go unnoticed.
Photo caption: The artist with one of his paintings.
Where does Jordan Rojas Sanchez come from?
I was born in Havana, in the Marianao municipality, and I come from a humble family. I had an affinity for painting ever since I was a young boy. My mother and closest relatives have always really encouraged me. I began visiting museums, art galleries, where I started nourishing my imagination with the exquisite art we have in our country. That was when this longing to contribute my grain of sand to the great works of Cuban art began to grow, so I could join the amazing list of artists in my homeland.
What national or international painters have inspired you? Why?
The Cuban artists that inspired me are Arturo Montoto, Cosme Proenza, Roberto Fabelo and the international ones are Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Gottfried Helnwein, to name a few. Their work is responsible for how I have learned to see and represent reality, in a similar way, so that I can reach the viewer with greater clarity. I have also learned from them how to manipulate light and shadow in this special way, which is key in my work.
But… have you ever studied painting? Where does your skill come from?
To answer your question, I must first say that I have been drawing ever since I was around 5 years old. It was something I couldn’t stop doing and then came the need to do it even better. I believe that my affinity and skill for painting comes from my uncle and cousin. They are also painters, unknown too, but painters. I remember spending long hours watching every drawing they did, so I could run to my piece of paper and copy it.
I have never studied painting, yet in February, I decided to take the entrance exam for the San Alejandro Academy, for the Worker’s Course. I was really terrified because I had never drawn in front of so many people before. I didn’t pass the exam and don’t ask me why, because I myself don’t know. It seems that painting is a reserved right.
Nevertheless, I have studied on my own and with Arturo Montoto, taking intensive drawing and painting courses with him on two occasions: the first in 2013-2015 and the second in 2017-2018.
What subjects and formats do you prefer?
Up until now, I have preferred drawings of human figures because they allow me to express my reality in a very sincere way. In terms of format, I am very comfortable working with large formats such as 200 x 180 cm, because my work needs to be represented in this impactful way, both in size and the psychological magnetism of every character.
How long does it take you to finish a work this size? Tell us a little bit about the process.
Well… this kind of format normally takes between 15-20 days to finish. It might sound tiring, but it’s a process I really enjoy. I take great care because the message I want to convey is in every centimeter of the painting. To do this, I normally carry out a kind of survey of people I know or from the neighborhood, and even of people beyond.
Yes, questions that have to do with the subject I want to deal with in the painting I’m doing. What I do is accumulate all of this information and then I study it, so I can then take pictures of relatives or people I know. Then, I begin the painting process, the perspective, intention, scale that I need, how many characters will I paint and how will I manipulate light and shadow.
As a young painter, what do you believe are the main challengers for a painter in modern-day Cuba?
I would say that one of the main challenges is a lack of raw materials, and also a lack of opportunities to exhibit one’s work. Plus, taking part in some events if you don’t have a creative license.
What is this creative license?
I haven’t graduated from any painting school, so I don’t have a document that identifies me as a painter. Without this document, you can’t hold exhibitions or take part in events.
It’s a fact that there are many young, and not-so-young, people on the island with lots and lots of talent who aren’t recognized like others are… why do you think this is?
It’s true that there are many with a lot of talent, but not all of them become artists because there are frustrating events in life that distance those who don’t believe in themselves from this path.
Like, for example, the failed entrance exam for the San Alejandro Academy…
Right. This might be one of these frustrating situations, but I believe that every emerging artist needs to first know who they are, where they come from, what their reality is, and then they can search for the most sincere way to depict this, in any of the arts. Knowing what you want to achieve with your art is extremely important, so you can set objectives.
What do you think about Cuban art, in general?
Cuban art was, is and will be rich in its entirety. We Cubans have a very authentic and fresh artistic take. I believe that Cuban art is exquisite, on the whole.
What are you currently working on?
Right now, I am preparing for an exhibition that will take place at the Teodoro Ramos Gallery in the Cerro municipality. There, six 200 x 180 cm pieces will be exhibited that show the human figure, surrounded by a dramatic atmosphere. The exhibition will be called “Premonitions”.