Opening reception on March 24, 5-8 p.m. Artist talk on April 7, 1 p.m.
In an age of increasing division, Afro-Cuban artist Evans Molina Fernandez seeks to unite.
From March 24 through April 28, the artist will show “Humanización,” an exhibition of vibrant, visceral paintings at OneWay Gallery.
Of the show’s theme — one he’s honed over three decades of art-making -— Fernandez says: “I am a part of the universe. We are a part of the universe. Indigenous culture disappears; history tries to change reality. But you can’t lie. My art is looking for a way to always talk about the past, the present, the future.”
Fernandez, who studied screenwriting and cinematography in college and emigrated to the United States in his mid-twenties, was raised in amongst artists in Havana. His upbringing taught him a valuable lesson about art: “It is an answer for no question. No one is asking.”
For his visual art, Fernandez creates assemblages of totems — houses represent community, for example — which are painted vividly and intuitively. Humans, animals and the natural world are all represented in Fernandez’s work, often without hierarchy.
“The energy of river, the energy of ocean, the energy of mountain: I try to humanize all of this,” he says.
In the homonymous “Rio del Rio,” a river cutting through a mountain represents happiness. “When you are happy, you have inside you a river,” he says. “It makes you stronger.”
The river, which Fernandez identifies as female, also connotes the fertility of the land. It sustains life, both animal and human, as represented by a tiny house at its base.
In “Elefante,” the weight of the world rests on the back of one animal.
“The animal, he is carrying everything,” Fernandez says, adding that the piece seeks to communicate themes of social discourse, responsibility and community — again, as represented by a small house tucked into the painting.
The universe itself is anthropomorphized in “Barbara, Atiende sus Ruedas,” or “Barbara, Attending to Her Wheels.” Using red to represent vitality, Fernandez depicts a female warrior bearing a shield and sword and manipulating two wheels. While she directs the chaos within the wheels beneath her, a garden grows in the background.
In Fernandez’s paintings, what might look like disparate motifs are bonded to create a cohesive whole. This multidimensionality extends to the artist himself. In addition to his visual art, Fernandez teaches dance and percussion to youth at CityArts, a nonprofit based in Providence. The act of living with passion, Fernandez says, is an art form unto itself.
“I always try to create a conversation,” he says. “There is the other art — the conversation about art.”
The public is invited to an opening reception on March 24 from 5 to 8 p.m., with a musical performance by Fernandez at 7 p.m. Complimentary refreshments will be served. Return to the gallery for an artist talk on April 7 at 1 p.m. Regular gallery hours are Friday 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment. The exhibition runs through April 28.