Digital Retrospective by Luis Miguel Valdés: From saffron to lily, 2002

The digital retrospective of Luis Miguel Valdés: From saffron to lily, 2002
By Sandra González

Among the different options proposed by the realization in Havana of the IV Salon of Digital Art organized by the Pablo de Torriente Brau Cultural Center, systematic animator in our country of this artistic manifestation linked to new technologies, the exhibition Retrospective 1986-2002 deserves to be highlighted. by maestro Luis Miguel Valdés, which will remain open at the Charles Chaplin Cinema Gallery in this capital until the end of July.

The work of Luis Miguel Valdés (Pinar del Río, 1949) is characterized by a vigorous execution, high technical mastery and the use of a refined line, which leaves aside the anecdotal of the subject treated to focus on the aspects that the artist considered fundamental.

With a long career as an engraver, of which his already memorable linoleum from the Cathedral of Havana, winner of prizes in several competitions, is unequivocal proof here, Luis Miguel has successfully ventured into other artistic manifestations such as sculpture, in addition to painting and the drawing. A graduate of the National School of Art and the Atelier 17 de S. W. Hayter, in Paris, France, he was a tenured professor at the Higher Institute of Art, ISA, and Head of its Engraving Department. Today he directs, in Mexico City, a graphics workshop founded by him, La Siempre Habana, where the most important Cuban creators of today and internationally renowned plastic artists, such as José Luis Cuevas, have worked.

Luis Miguel also has, with a well-earned prestige in artistic creation based on the new possibilities offered, in this troubled world of ours, computing and informatics. From his beginnings in the techniques of digital art, he himself has told us: From a first meeting at the Higher Pedagogical Institute of Pinar del Río in mid-1985 and with a computer that had neither a hard drive nor a mouse and a 4-color CGA card, I got into it to see what could be done with that device. With the number keys and with that wonderful STORYBOARD program I made the first computer graphics made by a visual artist in Cuba.

True to his origins, those first attempts culminated in April 1987 with the First Exhibition of Computer Drawings held at the Higher Pedagogical Institute of the Pinar del Río native to him. In organic empathy with the images, the show was set with pieces of electroacoustic music, something more than daring for the time. Then another 2 exhibitions followed him there; later the Teatro de la Empresa Uneca, in the Capital, was the place chosen for a similar show. The reaction was immediate. Opinions fluctuated between the incapacity of the artist, the loss of his will to work, and snobbery. It was not understood then, and sometimes not today, that the will and a kind environment are not enough to produce the work of art, it is necessary the creative talent and the particular gaze of the artist to know how to put aside the superfluous and find the true path towards the completion of the work. But Luis Miguel was sure of himself and did not lose to negative criticism his capacity and desire for experimentation and so he tells us what followed after:

One day the first computer and the Vice-rector arrived at ISA at that time, Yolanda Wood, had the good idea to put it in my hands full time and I installed in a cubicle from which I did not leave until several months later. Thus were born two remembered video clips, images recreated from two well-known songs by Pablo Milanés - The Poet is You and The Brief Space You Are Not In - which participated in the IX Latin American Film Festival, were exhibited on a giant screen in the Cuba Pavilion. , for which they could be appreciated by thousands of spectators and were premiered at the University of Havana together with the film Habana by Robert Redford. Those images surprised the public not because of their influences from Op and Pop-Art, which had been in vogue in our country since the 60s, but because it was obvious that they were made in a different way, although very few even imagined that a computer had been used in its production. From that time it is also the pixelated Che on the Oclae poster and the one made for the ISA Visual Communication Workshop, which we can now appreciate here.

From that moment on, and as a professor of computer graphics at ISA, Luis Miguel's work has been numerous, using the computer as a tool. In the one sent to the II Digital Art Salon organized by the Pablo de Torriente Brau Cultural Center, Tribute to the Habanera, known in this case by millions of Cubans, as it was used to illustrate the cultural page of the Telephone Directory of Etecsa 2001, evidences the tendency towards sculpture, as well as in the works exhibited here La ciudad de las Colum