Photos: Arturo Suárez
Vicente Rodríguez Bonachea has achieved what many artists only dream of: he has consolidated a distinctive trademark and, at the same time, each of his pictorial propositions is a hair-raising journey, full of metaphors and fantasies: the mystery of life, unexplainable matters, religion and love, among others, are themes he turns to time and again.
His encounter with the visual arts took place when as a young child he watched his father decorate fans. He later enrolled in the San Alejandro Academy of Arts where he acquired the tools of his trade. Later he worked as a set designer, an occupation that provided him with a sense of space and, still later, illustrating children’s books contributed the apparently ludic character that identifies him.
With these supports he constructs a discourse of a profoundly intimate nature, and associations that surely have a very personal meaning, but at the same time exhibit the quality of transmutation. That is, what he puts forward, adjusts, twists, adapts, expands or crumbles, depending on the perceptions of each recipient, of his/her respective interior worlds and the life experiences of those who appreciate his art. The work of Bonachea oozes a depth that goes from poetry to paintbrush.
The beings that inhabit his aesthetics appear to come from other universes, other contexts —kind and loving— lovely figments of his imagination, but he avoids sliding down the rivers of self-satisfaction thorough simple and coarse decoration. On the other hand, his characters transmit credibility despite recurrent zoomorphic elements that underscore the oneiric character of his proposal which, in general, exhibits a tender glaze between naïve and demonic.
But, perhaps, one of the greatest accomplishments in the work of this artist—who considers himself a draftsman despite having experimented with engraving, ceramics and sculpture— is the use of color, which becomes a very personal and fundamental element. His blues are so blue and his greens so green that one wonders how he achieves such purity in his blends.
Also, the areas of illumination within each piece—that generally tell a story from beginning to end—give it a markedly expressive force. The superimposed planes of light and shadow are reinforced by truly provocative and disturbing contrasts.
Without bordering on extreme conceptualism Bonachea thinks his work, but above all he feels it, and that passion filters through, rebounds and penetrates. Here lies one of the definitive keys to understanding his work: his concerns are earthly, concrete, everyday and even heartbreaking, yet peppered with the finest humor that gives his work a human quality. And even though there is innocence in his proposal, a picaresque quality also emerges: nothing is so innocent or naïve as it seems at first glance.
Bonachea, who finds himself in a period of splendid creative maturity, knows that art is an ascending spiral but that each twist is not exempt from risks. Yet he does not fear: his constant inquiries propel him to continue submerging in the many worlds that he creates and that express his humanist and universal vocation. And precisely, his identity comes from the ecumenical sense of his work because, without resorting to fanatical folklorism, it reveals the profoundly Cuban character of his proposal.