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Nestor Martinez Celis

Colombian journalist

Extracted from THE BARRANQUILLA’S HERALD (Santafé de Bogotá)

Born in 1946 in Havana, Cuba, Gilberto Frómeta is one of the most representatives of the Cuban current plastic. As a fruitful creator and indefatigable worker, Frómeta has cultivated, in his already long artistic career, the techniques of drawing — especially ink and pen nib — of graphic design, of metal engraving — in all the procedures — and of painting field in which is wrapped in at the present time.

Without fear to schematize too much, Frometa’s artistic production includes two big stages: as a graphic designer and engraver, before 1985, and as a painter that appears towards 1986. In the first one, the artist is devoted to the drawing, in a meticulous work with ink and pen nib, which expresses an engraver’s rigorous and patient work in metal. Here he achieves prints of great quality; working the plates in multiple processes and developing a virtuous technique and a wealth of spots, shades and contrasts that makes him be recognized as one of the big ones of his country’s plastic and he is outlining to be as one of the merit artists in the continent.

In his vast work, also appears the horse series. You can feel the purified technique, the delicate treatment of the topic and the achievements of expression of those “brute nobles”. Spirited steeds in mounts suspended in time; majestic manes swayed in the wind, supporting the composed rhythm; expressive heads, with emphasized lips and eyes that you feel they come, fiercely out of the canvas work, to arrive to the spectator’s sensitive knot.

When the same dynamics of the equines topic forces this Cuban to incursion in color, he notices that the simple and naturalistic application of the chromatic element subtracts expression to his work, and feels that his works could end as simple ornamental objects. It is then when he devotes, with the same engraver’s vehemence and patience, to study color deeply, its genesis, qualities, ranges, combinations, harmony, and the multiple possibilities of the pure color and the expressive force of chrome. In this artistic dimension, he meets with the fauvists, with the Henry Matisse of the pure and contrasting stain, with the Vlaminck of the chromatic simultaneity and with “the dynamite cartridges”, as the saying of Derain. At the end of that analytic parenthesis, which consumes him two intense years of his life, Frómeta also discovers that to create art, to paint, he doesn’t need to start from a specific topic, but from the own pictorial matter, from the vibrations and visual wealth of color, from the new tensions generated which he creates as he explores the canvas and from the ineffable prints that his spirit leaves every time his hand comes close to the canvas. It is in this precise instant when is born the present Gilberto Frómeta.

In this Cuban artist’s painting, we find two substantial principles that combine and they intertwine to form a complete and indivisible plastic: the chromatic magic and the virtual texture. They are elements that make flow their creative process, without preconceived models, exploring and discovering forms gradually, gesture strokes, stains and senses that generate other senses.

Armed with palette knife, trowel and with a rich palette of colors, the artist penetrates the world of the pictorial creation, without concessions neither established formulas, spreading colors through the whole canvas, contrasting and harmonizing chromatic areas, fighting unceasingly to capture a particular atmosphere that projects his painting toward abstraction levels with which could give form, without bigger explanations, to the internal pulsations of his conscience; in other words, a chromatic magic without encounter points with obvious realities.

The range of warm and cold, the blues that reflect and are enthroned, and the soil color that extends and governs the center of the canvas, they coexist with successive planes composed and with recourse elements of a rich virtual texture, of pleats, crests and lunar powder; everything forming a kind of sense that causes the maximum tension in the nucleus of the work. From the limits of the painting, some spaces are created and navigated with implosion entering or leaving, hiding or enhancing, fusing or delimiting the forms, producing a serious space sense to the spectator.

That creative process y constructing color planes, playing and establishing the formal warps, liberating instinctive expressions which marks signs on the free strokes, in the multi-colored graphicness. - near but different to the infantile expressions - they afford the artist a continuous, intense work that puts him to labour during fourteen daily hours; hard working days that are oppressive in physical, but not in spiritual, because Frometa surrenders to the pleasure of painting, to the aesthetic joy that installs him in another human dimension and it prepares him for the encounter of the chance with the pleasure of the muses.

  • EXISTENTIAL Oil on canvas 45 x 75 cm 2002 (Collection of the artist)