When reality is art

To talk about Dominican Republic is to speak of polarities: on the one hand there is evidence of growth and on the other there is a gap of inequality.

For example, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC), the Dominican Republic was the country that grew the most in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 2014. However, there was a loss in the Human Development Index (HDI) * related to differences in the access of segments of the population to quality services in the health and education sectors. There was also a fall in the inequality of men and women, in the aspects of empowerment, reproductive health and the labor market.

Taking as reference the exposed context, Dominican artists in the last decades have re-dimensioned the way they tell their visual stories. From the use of diverse materials to the conformation of new meanings, the contemporary craftsmen have created brand new suggestive codes, loaded with symbolism.

The social issues that contemporary artists face

Contemporary artists have been reflecting on new forms of expression. The Caribbean, and specifically the Dominican Republic have served as a curtain to address social issues. Some want to communicate this reality, others become a vehicle of criticism, assuming a citizen commitment. The tradition of this identity commitment arises from historical processes such as: dictatorships, invasions, and civil wars.

Thus we find proposals with common topics, but assumed in different visual languages. In this aspect we can mention the work of Tony Capellán, referring to his most recent productive stage: Installations. An approach to the Caribbean from a day-to-day perspective, where personal objects take a symbolic dimension, which looks beyond what is social, making the work a continuous dialogue. The waters of the Caribbean Sea bring his materials to pose issues such as poverty, marine pollution, migration, pain, sadness, exploitation of the human being and nature.

We emphasize a Raúl Recio with a visual speech full of nuances, which denote his questioning to current life. The themes he addresses in his pictorial compositions stand out for their social content, highlighting the evils of humanity, such as violence, corruption, weapons, sexual promiscuity, drugs, alcohol, greed, among others; thus turning his pieces into deep criticisms of human nature, and new consumer societies. Raúl shows us in his work a corrupt society that bases its standards on harmful models, which makes his visual poetics a questioning to double morality.

Raquel Paiewonsky introduces us to the universe of the human body, which she conceptualizes as a message carrier. These semantic contents that the person transports reflect the Dominican identity. The stereotypes that a culture has forged, and how these are held in the social imaginary. The feminine is drawn from an optic that criticizes prejudice, the implanted stigmas that restrain freedom. It shows a woman who questions not only her body, but her relation with it, and at the same time the relation of the body with the environment.

Childhood has been a theme which Jorge Pineda has pointed out. His concerns about this conglomerate are highlighted as a disturbing reality that manifests the vulnerability of infants. These works have a language that has managed to capture the grief and anguish of children; Where at the same time child innocence offers hope. The works of Pineda are codes that criticize these situations, being a kind of cry that seeks to provide solutions.

Wali Vidal reflects on urban growth. The city seen as a tumultuous and overcrowded space, where chaos reigns. The daily life observed from the lifestyles of the city. His pop art is a record created from the Antillean. The codes that prevail in his works are the tip of the iceberg of what as an artist Wali wants to reflect of the Dominican culture.

Pascal Meccariello inquires about vulnerability in the most intimate of human nature, and how this fact is an evident sign that generates conflicts, not only internal, but with the context. The relation of the individual to his environment is for Meccariello an infinite universe of creative possibilities. The artist presents the day-to-day, as synonymous of confrontation, as a generating matrix of symbolism, being this an existential search.

The universe of each creator is infinite, and one can not speak of a particular trend in the compositions of Dominican visual artists, but rather, of the backdrop of their creations: the Caribbean.

* Dominican Republic has 9,445,281 inhabitants according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The country has a high HDI of 0.715 for 2014, placing it in a range of 101 among 187 countries in the world, according to the 2015 Human Development Report of the United Nations Program (UNDP). With a poverty rate of 32.1% and extreme poverty of 5.8%, according to this same report.

Arlyn Abreu

Social communicator