Painter of Realities

By Shirley Moreira

Among the functions attributed to art is that of acting as a means of channeling concerns and desires. Sometimes painting is a voice that rises to promote a demure riot of ideas, even trying to transform certain realities.

However, when these circumstances exceed the tangible action possibilities of art, the creator is not intimidated. And it is because beyond his unceasing will to change the world, he knows that his main work lies in directly influencing the immaterial plane and appealing to the sensibility of the social actors.

One of Andrey Quintana’s premises when preparing to grant life to a blank canvas is that sensibility and full conviction can make changes possible. That is why his discourse follows the path of critical analyses that seek to establish an intimate and direct dialogue with the receiver, encouraging him to subvert patterns of ancient and pre-established thoughts.

El rebaño (The Herd) (2013 – 2014) is one of the first series in which the artist begins to channel certain ideas and to try to articulate stories with the most effective technical and expressive media. A group of colorful, wandering sheep, all submerged in the flock, becomes the central theme of this painting series. Andrey removes them from their context by placing them on colored planes. From the animal world he is only interested in the docile nature of this animal in order to transmute it afterwards into metonymy of a larger universe of meanings.

Sometimes one or several sheep become relevant within the group because they induce a change, although the lethargy of wandering aimlessly and without space for the own decisions reigns most of the time. Thus, the images deal with the way in which certain sectors act within society, about certain forms of thought that are sometimes necessary to remove or tear from the roots.

In El viejo muro (The Old Wall) (2013) the artist explored another form of expression in painting, where the visual synthesis plays a leading role. An imposing red wall extends throughout the canvas. Small, levitating characters recreated on it, overwhelmed in their individuality, try to discourse on particular stories. A structure, a word, a utopia that closely touches the artist’s sensibility when it brings back to his memory certain passages of a national history that conditioned a part of his life (and of the life of many). The wall here is a metaphor of border, limit, exclusion and insurmountable environment, but also a perishable space liable to deterioration on which too many memories are present.

Andrey continuously experiments with formal solutions and diverse themes. He quickly transfers to the canvas the artistic and social concerns he feels. Hence, in a brief period of time we can witness the genesis of various series that, while maintaining a defined discursive individuality, establish numerous connections with each other.

“One day, by chance, paging a magazine I found an image in which a large number of people were saying good-bye to soldiers who were marching to the war. There was much joy, balloons, confetti and bright ribbons: a great party. This fact appeared extremely ironic to me. How can one celebrate war?”

The artist thus narrates the experience that was to make him choose a new thematic and visual universe through painting. In Exacerbación (Exacerbation) (2013) he mixes images of confetti and multicolored balloons with weapons and military aircraft. Irony and contradiction began to fill an essential space in his production. In this way, the relationship between totally antagonistic elements led him to approach a critical discourse on the arms race and its consequences.

At a very early age Andrey began to hear about war. Even if he did not understand the true meaning of that word, the family environment linked to the military world, enrolled in the epic of Angola and therefore in constant contact with death, conditioned in him a strange fascination that very soon was to start changing into questions, pains and aversions. Painting would then be the tool he would use to communicate his ideas and question his environment, always trying to involve society in his distinctive way of perceiving and facing the world’s evils.

The series Detonaciones (Detonations) (2014) is the continuation of a process of technical and thematic consolidation initiated in previous works. On this occasion, the central motif of the representation is the clouds of fungi created by atomic detonations. With an action that approaches specific topics of pointillism, he conceives the piece based on small dots or colored drops. However, his intention is not to recreate the well-known technique. The colorful dots, while formally structuring the composition, simulate a confetti explosion that fills the canvas and seems to extend far beyond its visible limits. A childish grace then fills the war scene, distancing it from its real drama and eliminating its devastating essence.

Within the same thematic axis, experimentations with color and the composition of figures with small points led the artist to the wonderful visual spectrum of kaleidoscopes. Thus, in Sobrevuelos (Overflying) (2014 – 2015) he arrives again at the formal synthesis, designing planes that leave a wake of great explosions, again deprived of their dramatic dimension by being conceived as circular colorful patterns. In Bombing (2016) he moves away from the dot circles to feel the free vibration of the color scattered across the canvas.

Motivated by this line of analysis he arrived at the series Eyecciones (Ejections) (2016). The central impulse continues to be the kaleidoscopic explosions, but there is greater solidity in the conception of the pieces. Aware that the formal aspect of his works is the key to creating the irony of his discourse, Andrey becomes much more rigorous in the technical accomplishment.

The small colorful spots are now conceived with syringes. The precision of the medical instrument is useful to leave the traces of the tiny drops on the canvas, but he also uses them to probe the entire universe of meanings it contains as healing means. The initial pointillism takes a new order to even flirt with a certain kinetic image.

The artist does not like extremely stiff patterns or topics, and parallel to this discourse on the arms race and warlike conflicts with a very precise formal structure, he gets involved in another series in which his language derives toward the ecology and is a call of alert on the need to protect wildlife. In Animales en Expansión (Animals in Expansion) (2016) he creates connections between the codes of figuration and informal abstraction to tell about the strength and energy of each animal. He does not move away from the already experienced colorful explosions; only that this time they emerge from the vitality of the figures he represents. 

In the series Alive (2017) he returns to the topics of beauty and color alluding to the portrait as a theme. He paints images that seem beautiful to him, with the formal result of faces of a much thicker and textured pointillism. This time he substitutes syringes and brushes for an instrument that connects him with his previous thematic proposals: the bullet casings. This element is deprived of its original function to become a means of life, color and beauty. Andrey mixes with the canvas and becomes a performer at the moment of creation; and makes his discourse even more incisive when in the Gunshot series (2017) he uses the same technique to make portraits of people who have died from gunshot wounds, this time without color. 

The exorbitant color, the creation of aesthetically beautiful forms to discourse on difficult realities and the use of specific materials to grant greater density to the creative process have been some of the recurring elements in his painting. His artistic production has shown continuous moments of visual and discursive evolution that have led him to obtain a work with serious questionings, entirely his own and in a permanent growth. At this height Andrey already knows that it is difficult to change the world, but he also knows that to reflect his concerns and realities in painting is also to contribute a grain of sand.