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Capote in the Zone

Antonio Eligio (Tonel)

Every artist’s work has a title.
Titles are my work
Lawrence Weiner

Yoan Capote’s art creates its own zone, when it explores and cultivates an ideal terrain for certain encounters. In this zone, the rotund bodies in his sculpted conceptions converge and fuse with the levity of the word. Although separated most oftentimes from the object, the text (be it a title or annotation on the wall caption) is, in his works, as indispensable as the materials moulded, melted and carved. 

Hence, Weiner’s aforementioned phrase: it is clear that Capote does not concentrate on language to the extent of the incomparable American artist, for whom the word is essence and vehicle for the material. Notwithstanding, the Cuban artist’s works need the word like a fish needs water, and they move within language with a fluidity that has poetic quality. In his case, the work is also the title, to the measure that the textual component always adds essential dimensions for the existence – to avoid saying comprehension – of what is created. Capote, therefore, goes further than conventional relations, supplemented between work and title, and situates his work at a level where tri-dimensional pre-eminence presents itself moderate, modulated by verbal subtleties and emphases.

I imagine that the sculptor studio and the library live together side by side, perhaps coexist even under the same roof, in that zone which Capote occupies. Amongst the books (“always open” like the poet asked and within reach in order to alter and fecundate matters which need be), there could be various poetry volumes: Augusto de Campos, Apollinaire, Mallarmé and Haroldo de Campos are some of the authors which could be found on the dusty shelves among other workshop tools.

Capote has fostered work which equally propitiates other equilibriums and encounters: the imposing physical presence and materials of industrial provenance, so aligned with Minimal art tradition, subsist together in his work with a delicacy and with a focus on details which evoke, at the same time, academic métier conventions and the postmodern revalorization of artisan skill. His creative field is defined within such stylistic discourse, with results that continually adapt to specific demands from which to confront ideas. A glance at his overall production will demonstrate the correspondence between the variety of those ideas and the materials and techniques that govern the final execution of his installations and sculptures. As such, attention to the expressivity typical of each material and to the effects of the finished output is fundamental for the tonality of every piece. It deals with a type of work somehow identified with conceptions of industrial design, to the considerable importance of aspects such as the selection of materials, manufacturing techniques and scale, all dependent of an ‘ideal’ efficient condition within the resulting object. To a certain extent, proximity to design shapes many of the objects Capote conceives, endows them an aura attributable to the prototype, to that archetypal model in which he has incarnated an idea at its most pure and perfect state. 

Many of Yoan Capote’s pieces achieve a peculiar fusion between coarseness and refinement, as much materially as in the problematic and issues they embark upon. This is an inseparable trait from the humorous and paradoxical tone, peppered with sordidness, which exude many of his most significant realizations. Self-portrait (each one of us), with the dramatic contrast between the enormity of concrete blocks and the thinness of the (skeletal) bronze legs that support those very blocks, as well as Analysis of Beauty, in converting a garbage container into a luxury object, irrefutably demonstrate this harmony of contrasts so common in his work. 

Self-portrait… itself allocates commentary on another productive facet of his creations, the cleverness to elaborate proposals which sometimes introduce an eroticism marked by humour and absurdity based on the approximation towards the human body and on the recreation of an anatomy that is fragmented, incomplete, or simply subject to alterations. These alterations can extend to the very object, represented as extensions of anatomic deformations, with shades of surrealism and a great deal of the grotesque. When this happens, as in Married or Erection for example, the deformed goes from an individual body to a social body and defines the object in order to allude to phenomena which embrace more than just corporeal disorders. 

The incomplete body, made from scattered anatomical fragments, underlines the possibility to understand being as another assembled and disassembled object which can be arranged at will. The organic in anatomy is combined with the geometric rigidness of concrete, stone or bronze, in order to establish a conductive thread from which to link and to give coherence to the works. Within that thread, interest in sexuality and emphasis for the grotesque body, denoted by its genital organs, its secretions and its orifices (noses, eras, mouths), wrestle.

Yoan Capote has managed to piece together coherent works of art inspired by Cuban social and cultural surroundings, marked by an execution and tone which never turn away from neither local materiality, nor Havanan language. Similarly, his work establishes a dialogue with issues that are not exhausted by circumstances concerning his immediate insular surroundings. While his work moves around Vedado, it has an international destiny since it is in tune with a significant segment of art produced outside Cuba. Without doubt, this is the encounter, the most fascinating convergence propitiated by that zone of creation which Yoan has nowadays created and cultivated in his own way.

Vancouver, marzo de 2009.