Since the 19th century, when landscape became the main theme in the Cuban visual arts scene, there is practically no reference to the theme picturing nighttime. Perhaps the dazzling light of the Cuban environment conquered the creators of that style to show, since then and systematically on boards, canvases or cardboards the splendor of a mainly peasant or suburban landscape but always in daylight, perhaps for that above-mentioned reason. Being Cuba also an archipelago, the seascape had almost the same development as to the number of exponents.
In the midst of this situation irrupts Pedro Hernández Torres, who, with a very solid academic education, already toward the mid-eighties, when the art concerns were moving toward other fields and beginning to set trans-vanguard guidelines, was presenting us with evening canvases of marked live realism or its equal, a refined hyper-realistic skill.
His paintings perhaps brought a certain solace to the convulse atmosphere of exhibitions in Cuba at the time, but most important was the contribution of something that was missing: the painting of nights, loaded with astonishing lights, those he has succeeded in presenting with extraordinary lyricism.
Using blue as main shade of a palette that also moves among blacks, grays and whites to present the first part of the night (the twilight), Hernández Torres began this practice long before achieving the highest degree of his painting career: the memory of his early experiences almost compelled him to settle accounts, ignoring in addition that his action was to register him in an absurdly avoided chapter of the history of our painting.
The night landscapes by this creator stop in very specific suburban spots of the Cuban capital that could be located in any other latitude. Aided by his poetic perspective or by the radiant spark created by a small brush-stroke of zinc-white, Hernández Torres underlines what the whimsical geography makes us think: what we see here, we have probably seen elsewhere. The mystery of the night and its sound silences, the enchantment of its peculiar atmosphere, its univocal coldness become participants of this illusion that he, with patient technical skill, I repeat, also takes care of transferring to his canvases or cardboards, adding details of a painter who is inevitably in love with the night.
More recently, Hernández Torres, a landscape painter par excellence, without disregarding his evening activities, has approached the most effervescent partial outlooks of the city in daylight. Habana Vieja becomes here the center of this artist’s discourse, and it seems that he takes us by the hand to make us participate in the streets and noise he has recreated. Now he is the whiteness, the light the protagonist of a larger chromatic table that opens in search of the perfect outburst of the perpetual movement of his inhabitants and of the game of shadows produced by the sun in walls, scrolls, in the ironwork dividing rows of balconies, columns, balconies, windows and grating.
These daily essays have led him to make clear experiments with the decomposition of a specific landscape, bringing some detail to a front plane but still integrated by the peculiar language he achieves in each wash, transforming acrylic into watercolor in the present exhibition.
DAYTIME AND NIGHTTIME is precisely that: a comparison of the elegant and impeccable painting by Pedro Hernández Torres, and VILLA MANUELA Art Gallery, of the Association of Writers and Artists of Cuba, becomes the promised land to adore the NIGHT, whose echo will bring us the colors of the new DAY… HE has just delivered his most valuable offerings.
Lic. Antonio Fernández Seoane