• 'What most captivated me about Milián was the fact that he lived with René Portocarrero, such a powerful figure in...

    "What most captivated me about Milián was the fact that he lived with René Portocarrero, such a powerful figure in Cuban art, both historically and pictorially. And yet, you find no influence whatsoever of Portocarrero on Milian's work. He followed his own route, consistently painting with ink on paper, in small sizes. The only reference I find in my knowledge of art is Paul Klee. They both worked in small sizes, and almost never did a bad painting..."







  • "As soon as I saw the first Milián piece, at the Acacia's gallery storage room, I tried to acquire all that I could find. There were not many. People more knowledgeable than I, had started collecting the work: Ramón Vázquez, and Orlando Hernández. I have always liked especially Head of man (1957)  and Untitled (1963) which I have kept at my house for many years; perhaps because they especially remind me of Paul Klee. Perhaps the effort to maintain his artistic freedom and independence from Portocarrero exerted too much pressure on Milián and their relationship; after a couple of failed, or faked, suicide attempts, Milián finally took his own life, in the building where they had met when he was the elevator operator."


    Robert Borlenghi




    (Cuba, 1914-1984)

    He was born in Havana on April 14, 1914. It is said that he began painting in 1950, a decade in which he also worked decorating ceramic pieces, along with other artists such as Portocarrero, Lam and Amelia, in the Santiago de las Vegas Workshop led by Dr. Juan Miguel Rodríguez de la Cruz. His models seem to be the artists of formalism, of new figuration, of North American abstract expressionism, the painting of Mark Tobey, Mark Rotho, the drawings of Wols and the work of previous artists such as Henri Michaux, Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet.

    Almost all of his artistic work was done with black ink and colored inks on paper and cardboard of small dimensions, generally vertical, where he represented heads, faces, figures, flowers, vases, abstractions. His images express speculative, philosophical statements. He was part, albeit in a minor way, of the few painters who surrounded the Origins Group. A work by Milián was selected as the cover of issue 28 of 1951 of the magazine Orígenes.

    Starting with 1980, in coincidence with the start of his mental problems, Milian's work became more elementary, less thoughtful, and its quality unfortunately suffered. He gave up his usual transparencies and brilliance in favor of a drier painting and drawing, of a direct, immediate nature. He began drawing with commercial markers and felt-tip pens of different thicknesses, using smaller than usual, sometimes poorly cut, slightly uneven cardstocks, where blanks that often exhibited small spots were much more visibly sloppy at the edges. In these, his most dramatic and moving works, there is a greater emphasis on drawing, on lines, sometimes tangled and tangled, applied with energy, sometimes with irritation or fury. 

    He was a student of philosophy of aesthetics, a careful reader of Kant, Hegel, Schiller, Schelling, Jaspers, Heidegger, Rilke, Novalis, and Valery. Perhaps one of his favorite technical procedures consisted of painting and then removing the paint, the ink, until he left only a basic stain, on which to repaint or draw, and again to remove the excess paint.