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Portfolio: paintings and music

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Video is the dimension where my painting and my music coexist.

ABISAY PUENTES, born in Pinar del Río, Cuba 1974, moved to Havana city in 1975. At an early age he became passionate about painting.  His mother wanted him to become a musician and enrolled him in piano lessons in “Seminario Bautista de La Habana”.   His obsession was to learn and study art. He starts art classes in E.N.A (National School of Arts) in 1992. One day Abisay wore a shirt that said in front "Sonríe, Jesús te Ama" (Smile, Jesus Loves you).  This brought rage to the school’s directors and he was terminated from the school. He kept studying on his own until he encountered a professor of art philosophy and history, Juan Enrique Guerrero.  This teacher instructed Abisay on how to elaborate a piece of work pictorially, musically and poetically by making him feel that in each visual artist there is a musician and a poet as well.  This encouraged Abisay to start his first series called "The Apocalypse of Abisay" in 1998 winning two drawing awards. Abisay decides to fuse painting and music in 2003. In the summer of 2010 Abisay comes to the United States as a political refugee, he is currently living in the city of Syracuse, New York State; where he continues painting and pursuing his dream as an artist.

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The development of my expressive trajectory has taken 20 years to evolve to its current phase. My current work began with a series of drawings that I began, in 1997.  Today, my work contains two kinds of space; one space is visual and the other is based on my interest in music. The forms of each of the modes of artistic expression that I employ in my work – music and painting – are not necessarily intrinsically linked – because “musical forms” and “pictorial forms” do not function on the same sensory level.  Nonetheless, as content, within a given work, these elements can fuse and affect an audience’s perceptual sensibilities.  Such a fusion of sound and image was found in the history of film in silent movies.  In this sense, such films were mute but not deaf.
     As I have explored the fusion between image and sound, the work of Wassily Kandinsky has provided an inspirational model.  Kandinsky’s ideas have entered my referential inspiration through my absorption of his intentionality as expressed in “Concerning the Spiritual in Art,” where he wrote:

“... The most modern musicians like Debussy create a spiritual impression, often taken from nature, but embodied in purely musical form. For this reason Debussy is often classed with the Impressionist painters on the ground that he resembles these painters in using natural phenomena for the purposes of his art. Whatever truth there may be in this comparison merely accentuates the fact that the various arts of today learn from each other and often resemble each other.”

     Further down, he also stated:
“… And so at different points along the road are the different arts, saying what they are best able to say, and in the language which is peculiarly their own. Despite, or perhaps thanks to, the differences between them, there has never been a time when the arts approached each other more nearly than they do today, in this later phase of spiritual development.”

​It is precisely in these concepts, as expressed by Kandinsky, that I have employed in developing the symbiotic aspects of my paintings and music .  Evidently, artistic evolution since Kandinsky has continued from when he left us with these concepts.  Contemporary Art has moved beyond Kandinsky’s legacy as it has departed from traditional conventions of artistic process and outcome.  Despite such changes, the elemental spirituality of art does not change; and it is within the parameters of this conceptual structure that I create my work.  In my artistic practice and intentionality, I seek to join the visual aspects of contemporary paintings to the aural space of melody or pure sound in a manner that communicates this fusion.

All visual art can resonate with the spiritual in a manner that is intrinsically musical.  This is even more possible today, as we live in an intellectual moment identified by Arthur Danto’s philosophy as the Post-Historic Period, in so referencing the end of traditional historical identification of “Art” or of a concept of art, which ruled on artistic definition since the Renaissance to identify or deny artistic actualization.  Danto’s conceptualization of art maintained that art had entered a new phase of artistic utopia, wherein all is permitted in the name of art.  Pure art as Form lost its significance, but the new significance or meaning of such art has not yet been identified.  As an artist, with the ability to function within Danto’s description of artistic possibilities, I seek to describe what I identify as my artistic sensibility within my artistic sensibilities and the trajectory of what I identify as my artistic intentionality.

Lately, my work’s fusion of sound and sight combines the experience of both into one expressive format, which can be experienced separately or in a combination of listening to music joined to the visual perception of interaction with painting.  The meaning of the experience is found within the spectator’s experience, as it is the audience that provides meaning through the aesthetic moment produced by my work.  Visual images are static but music flows.  Images are frozen in time but music cannot be detained and its ongoing development unfolds as time passes.  In perceiving how these two aspects of artistic expression develop, someone immersed within this created world can create a mental history for the image seen, altered through the sound of the music that animates its spiritual existence.  As such, the “history” or the image or its “story” is recounted by the space that exists separating the diverse realities of music and painting.  Fused in my work, these two areas of perception – sound and sight - are united into a holistic experience that enmeshes the spectator in a world that is between their perception and my intention for the work’s performative display. Thus, I challenge audiences to interpret and absorb the intrinsic nature of the work they perceive, that is my creative process, and the extrinsic perception of it that is the result of the spectator’s experience.  In so doing, my goal is to enmesh the spectator into the perceptual performativity of seeing and hearing within an altered state of existence that seeks to find a place between the material existence of painting, the sound of music and the spiritual with art.