The Universe of Amaury Mengana: Pictorial Works Exhibited in Havana

Photo Feature by Regina Cano

HAVANA TIMES — The spiritual world that can be sensed via religion has clearly influenced Amaury Mengana’s work, a painter and sculptor who is entering into what seems to be the mature stage of his art.

He currently has his art pieces on show at an exhibition, since August 17th until the second week of September, at the “Fajad Jamis” Art Gallery, located in Alamar. This artist includes soils from different stratums and of different tones, tree leaves, shells, feathers, metal, bones, stones, clay pots; anything from nature which supports and helps him in his artistic creation and pictorial language.

Palo Monte (an African diasporic religion) is the foundation of his work and his art reflects the transitivity of this reality together with another reality which comes with it, the spiritual world, although the works don’t have any real religious foundation.

Via his paintings, installations and soil tapestries, you can see the coming together with beings “from beyond”, with “the world beyond”. There is a visual potentiality which joins marks from Palo Monte (Regla Conga) with marks from the Yoruba religion (Regla Ocha).

The Room is full of dry leaves and land spirits who are coming out of what seems to symbolize the Ngangulero cauldron, in the first room, making an impression on viewers who came to the opening, who watched this display of strength with respect, which wasn’t completely answered in the spectator’s questions about the work. There were many responses, such as the wealth of the Human Being.

Some of the people present didn’t follow these religions, not even the other religions that Cuba inherited, of African origin; others weren’t religious at all and others were of questionable devotion. Many friends, other artists, but all of them were an audience longing to see this work.

Inaugurated with music recognized as liturgical, of the kind that accompanies certain rituals in the country, it seemed to announce the leap between these universes, one of which relating to mystery, the spiritual world.

The exhibition itself wasn’t a surprise; many people had anticipated a display of this kind, which is Mengana’s fourth individual exhibition, and who already has over 10 collective exhibitions under his belt.

The artist said that “the pictures that come to him” and one of the foundations that help inspire him are religious texts.” That this is how “it comes to him and he captures it,” because “people need to know that the spiritual world exists.” He mentions that “there are people who stop in front of his work and feel vibrations.”

He also adds that there are details implicit in his work which criticizes things that are done wrongly in religion today: the fact that some steps in liturgical rites are violated, for financial gain mostly, but also because they are carried out in haste, giving rise to terrible results for believers.

Amaury Mengana, who has been painting and drawing ever since he was 4 years old, decided to work with Land Art a few years ago, because of just how easily accessible this basic and cheap material is and because of its close natural connection to the religion it follows. Continuing on with his artistic journey, he has now started working with pyrography in wood, making craftwork in general and using sawdust as a raw material.

And he ended by saying that his great intention and wish for this exhibition is “that religious people are more consistent, that they study more (…) that priests are better.”

Note: Telephone number for the Fajad Jamis Gallery: 77653253. Address: Avenida de los Cocos, Zone 7, Alamar, Havana.

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