Jorge Rios: June 16, 2018

"(...) because life is a stream."

Ulysses, James Joyce

From the very beginning, the work of Jorge Ríos has followed the most complicated path that can be chosen in art, assuming the responsibility of speaking philosophically to the relationship between man and his environment, from the perspective of the metaphysical thought more focused on the central principle of BEING and NOTHING.

Jorge Ríos, Havana 1988, is a young Cuban artist who moved to the United States a few years ago. A graduate of the San Alejandro Academy in Cuba, he is currently working on his MFA at his at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This exhibition proves the continuity, and evolution, of his creative thought, which for him is nothing more than the universal relationship of art to everything that pertains to human existence. This is a process in which each series opens only a window of access to a universe immensely greater than what can be seen at first glimpse. As in any valid work such as this, what you see at a glance is only the tip of the iceberg. June 16, 2018 takes the novel Ulysses by James Joyce ad an initial reference. In formal terms, Jorge tries, re-creating with exactitude the sky every two hours over the course of one day (June 16, 2018), the narrative of the ephemeral, of the perishable. As in Joyces Ulysses, which also takes place in a single day (June 16, 1904) but in the decadent Dublin, Jorge reminds us, through a group of beautiful sky-scapes, that there is nothing more fleeting than existence itself. What we are seeing already was, and this is a fact that, while beautiful, contains a drama with no solution. As in Ulysses, this show focuses on the simplicity of everyday life, heroism, and beauty, and surviving our insignificance. The essence of the discourse lies in showing the face of the common man, his strength to live, transforming the habitual into the heroic. What else is life but an epic in reverse? Because the road can be wonderful, but the end is almost never the victory.

Everything exists thanks to its opposite. Life itself exists thanks to death, clarity thanks to the darkness, the ephemeral thanks to the eternal. These concepts are also part of the exhibition discourse through a series of drawings with which the artist references universally known events, of unquestionable notoriety. The purpose of these works is to emphasize, through isolated events, the overwhelming protagonism of real life, which in reality we barely notice. This brief series of drawings defines, by opposition, his homage to the NOTHING.

I have known Jorge all of his life, seeing him grow as a man and an artist and if I had to choose a defining characteristic for his creative process, it would be obstinacy. His attitude is always to choose a topic and delve into it until it is exhausted: he investigates, he reads like an addict, he stays awake working on the many possibilities to materialize the idea, he bothers his friends constantly to share some detail and involve them in his debate, he paints obsessively until he finds the visual solution that convinces him. Once achieved, he discards the concept completely to start again from the beginning to to develop a new idea, where the whole process is repeated.

Those skies are from Miami. It happened on June 16, 2018. Jorge was at his home in Coral Gables.


Alejandro Machado