Vladmir de Léon’s Systematic Geometry of Intention
It is hard to tell whether the works of Cuban painter and collage artist Vladimir de Leon reflect a mind within a maze or a maze within a mind. Whichever the case, Vlado is working his way into and out of the images like a miner. The trail of the labyrinth he leaves behind is as notable as the end destination.
The floor of Vlado’s den is covered with the glossy magazines from which he draws many of his images, a rare commodity in Cuba, to which he gives his own gloss. He comes from a different perspective, as you can tell by the row of bright yellow hazmat suits hanging on the wall like a satirical work of art.
A previous review of Vlado’s works by James Nelson highlights the mental explorations and discoveries:
Vladimir de Leon Llaguno works in several styles or manners. He explores mathematical arrangements of blocks that are reminiscent of M.C. Escher´s optical explorations. Llaguno adds isolated silhouette figures sitting and standing on various blocks. With a work that might, or might not, be a social statement. we see a crime scene in the woods with a blood-spattered, brutally raped woman lying in a taped-off area surrounded by police. The repeated image of a man´s head populates the tree foliage.
In a complete change of pace and imagery, Llaguno paints a Dadaist, fragmented scene that includes geometric forms, balloon bunnies and a painted lady against a background cathedral that appears built out of bluish caramel corn. One large work is a forest of sapling trees banded in bright colors, with a flurry of butterflies swirling about. Several other pieces amount to curious clip art collages involving plumbing and figures. Llaguno is as experimental as he is talented.
De Leon is not only exploring optical illusions, but illusions within the mind as well, as well as those created by the mind and fixed as concrete objects within our reality. De Leon creates collages out of objects depicted in magazine images, inert gadgetry in which in Vlado’s visual geometry, he brings the lifeless to life and gives it intention, consciousness, and identity, the same way these status objects are meant to give identity to their possessors.
In the process, this crosspollination between whimsy and exactitude is visually and counterintuitively stunning.
By focusing on human creation in the form of technology, and treating it as objective artifact, Vlado transforms it into a cultural substrata of human spirituality.
As Cuban critic Octavio Guerra Royo put it, “su obra deviene en una suerte de conceptualismo tecnoligicista diseccionador de las humanas actitudes, de sus tragedias y sus comedias, de sus grandezas y sus bajezas.” The work turns into a magic brew of technical conceptualism that dissects human conceits, its tragedies and comedies, its highs and lows.
Vlado also plays tricks with time. His work invariably captures a moment, but it is a moment that is developing, that evokes both the past and the future of the instant, according to Alejandro Carvallo Yarzo of the Cuban Foundation of Cultural Resources, un mensaje pictórico que evoca un instante, ese instante de desarrollo, un mensaje que viendo lo que hace nos pone a pensar….”—a message that starts us thinking when we see it. It is not just a maze, but a tripwire for the mind.
The work of Vladimir de Leon is currently on display at the Avondale Bricks Gallery, at 130 41st Street South in Avondale. It is part of a group exhibition of Cuban artists who have shown in major galleries, biennials, and museums around the world, now on display inBirmingham. Watch for events in the gallery space or make an appointment to view the exhibition at email@example.com.
If you enjoy our exploration of artists, international and local, working in their studios, check out these previous articles: http://bhamweekly.com/birmingham/article-2788-the-imagined-legends-of-arthur-price.html http://bhamweekly.com/birmingham/article-2764-dick-jemison-countries.html http://www.npaper-wehaa.com/bhamweekly#2012/05/03/?article=1576792 Or just go to www.bhamweekly.com and search Instudio.