By Mariana Martinez
I go into a well known café.
Dim lights shine through the smell of tobacco and on the walls, dancing figures that linger, touch and feel themselves as the green watercolors and dark ink blots make huge stains on our water-soluble souls.
As a background Cuban Son, the drums and a tall black guy whose hand is responsible for the paintings that move and invite me to join them. Luis Juan Garzón Masabó born May 16, 1963 in San Luis, Santiago Cuba- started his love for painting at an early age, and following his art, he joined the Santiago Visual Art School and then went off to Havana to join the prestigious ISA (Havana’s Center for the Arts).
In 1989, as soon as he got out of school, he worked as a designer and illustrator for Orient editions for almost ten years, later becoming art and design director of Technological and Scientific Editions also in Havana.
Since 1999 his career took a spin and he started a job as the chief curator in a series of art galleries called This worlds realm, part of the José Martí National Library, until 2002 where he leaves Cuba to come to Tijuana, determined to go “wherever love takes him” as he put it, and is now married to a Tijuana woman.
On his ongoing quest as an artist, he has been part of over sixty collective and individual exhibits either in Cuba or in other countries, showing his integrating work and conceptual essence, fruit of his hard work and constant self exploration.
Just eight months after his arrival in Tijuana, he offers his first individual exhibit titled Mystical Variations, a work he did mainly out of deep nostalgia for the part of him that’s left in his place of birth, but also as a reaffirmation of the “Cubaness” he still is and the memories he caries in his skin and tone.
Garzón synthesizes Tijuana as a cosmopolitan space where everything is going on really fast and nothing is ‘here to stay”, the daily battles go on quickly, indivertibly among its streets and puddles, Garzón wishes to add his views to its rich mixture.
As people gather around the authors paintings, the café shop owners put on a Cuban buffet; fried bananas, fresh fruit and pig skins, and prepared drinks of rum and honey or coconut water. Meanwhile the drums go on and then slowly fade away in to the night to let the sweet sound of trova cords begin to float and embrace us all, some even start to hum to the sound of their memories of Cuba.
Mystical Variations is full of references to the authors afro Cuban cultural roots; It is bursting of Orishas, magic colors, symbols and drums getting warm in open fires, his paintings evoke pleasure and dream like sensations and seem like an open window to someone’s home in sun-setting Havana.
To tell his tale, Garzón gets a hold of water colors, ink or tempera paint because he likes spontaneous media, he confesses to be a perfectionist perhaps because of his training as an illustrator who sometimes chooses oil paintings to challenge himself and develop his techniques and share his findings with his chaotic new home called Tijuana.
Paintings by Cuban artist Luis Garzón
Is open to the public since April 30 2003 at El Lugar del Nopal art gallery and café shop
5 de Mayo Alley #1328. Tijuana México.
(664) 685 12 64