Inside José Yaque’s “Tierra Madre”, David Gill Gallery

“Tierra Madre” is the first solo exhibition in London by the Cuban artist José Yaque, at the David Gill Gallery. The various works, inspired by and made for the space, occupy the entire gallery and will be shown until 5th March 2017.

This is not José Yaque’s first meeting with the city of London; in order to prepare this exhibition, David Gill in collaboration with Galleria Continua, invited the artist to a residency in London in October last year. Through several weeks of work, José painted various canvases in different formats and colours, created charcoal drawings and sketched the projects of the installations.

The title “Tierra Madre” alludes to the close relation of the artist’s work with nature, the riches of nature and the materials that make it up. The artworks emerge from the inspiration and the dialogue, which form and visualize nature in each component of the exhibition. The show is composed of a selection of paintings in several formats inspired by the shining colors of London during his residency; four installations are made with the earth, as well as traces of English culture and history; also Jose has shown for the first time a series of grandiose charcoals. Each one of these manifestations set within a unique space of the gallery, are in dialogue with the earth and its components.

Yaque’s special way of painting and his interrelation with materials cause the resultant paintings, some of great dimensions, to enhance the matter itself, and cause the apparent abstraction they denote to take on a telluric and almost dramatic force. His drawings speak to us of the treasures inside great mining quarries. These “open-air mines”, as he entitles them, show us precisely that interrelation with nature, based on the beauty of the most refined stroke. The installations mix natural elements such as earth of different origins, stones, mineral components and recovered books, which are integrated into this substratum, framed by elegant showcases which harbour this new genesis in their interior.

During one of the interviews I did with Yaque for the catalogue of the show, he said about his work: “I observe all this which is denominated media as one single thing which is at my disposal, I simply don’t distinguish between one and another in my process. Before, drawing was a resource, but nowadays I employ it as an almost verbal form of communication. This line I make now, for me is a becoming, it’s a representation, which I later endow with a body, a physical or three-dimensional presence in the installations. On occasion it has to do with a single idea or a single object which is transfigured or transformed into something else apparently different, but in its essence it’s the same thing.”

I’m glad to be part of the organization behind this exhibition, as to me it is a celebration of the long friendship, through both a love of art and the commitment to supporting young artists, between David Gill Gallery and Galleria Continua. David Gill met José Yaque two years ago in Havana in Yaque’s studio, together with Lorenzo Fiaschi, one of the founders of Galleria Continua and me. Since then David has supported his work as a collector and has now presented this amazing show for Jose in his beautiful space at King Street.

José Yaque was born in 1985 in Manzanillo (Cuba), a very special city which in recent years has seen the development of an excellent generation of young Cuban creators. At present he lives and works in Havana. He studied at the Cuban Superior Institute of Art, graduating in 2011, and has carried out various solo and collective exhibitions in Cuba and in various places in the world, such as Glasgow, Madrid, San Gimignano, Paris, Warsaw. His artworks form a part of various private and museum collections. His next exhibitions will be in New York at the Rockefeller Foundation residence, and in Detroit, with a bi-personal exhibition. José Yaque forms part of the Cuban Pavillion at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Laura Salas Redondo

Image: David Gill Gallery/Galleria Continua San Gimignano/Beijing/ Les Moulins/Havana

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