Nelson Dominguez Cedeño
Born in Baire, Santiago de Cuba, on September 23rd, 1947. Studied at the Cubanacán National Art School (ENA) (1965-1970) and taught there (1970-1985). He has been Professor and Head of the Painting Department of the Higher Institute of Arts (ISA) and faculty member of its Engraving Department from which is teacher consultant and artistic merit Diploma.
Nelson also holds the National Award of painting 2009. He is member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and of the International Association of Plastic Artists (AIAP) and has been awarded the order for National Culture, the Alejo Carpentier Order and Honor Diploma of the Fuji Museum of Japan.
Major national and International Distinctions
National culture award
Alejo Carpentier award
Tropical Gipsy Badge, Popular Government Office Havana city.
Distinguished member of Cojímar Town, Cuba
Jose Maria Heredia Insignia, Province of Santiago de Cuba.
Holguin Axe, Holguín province.
Raúl Gómez García, Medal, Cuba.
Badge, Honor Diploma and Order of Honor. Fuji Museum, Tokyo, Japan.
Member of Honor of the Cuban Association of educators.
Teacher Consultant and of the Diploma of the Artistic Merit of the College of Arts (ISA).
Second Prize in painting and engraving. First Youth Hall of Havana City, Cuba.
First Prize in painting and engraving. Second Youth Hall of Havana City, Cuba.
Second Prize in painting and engraving. Third Youth Hall of Havana City, Cuba.
Award in Linoleum. First Engraving Triennial Victor Manuel. Havana.
First Prize in Painting and Engraving. 26 of July Hall. National Museum of Fine
Arts, Havana, Cuba.
First Prize in Painting and Engraving. First Professor's Salon. Havana.
Second Prize in Painting and Engraving. (Xylography). Second Professor's Salon. Cuba.
Second Prize in Painting and Engraving. Third Professor's Salon. Havana
First Prize in Painting and First Recognition in Engraving. 26 of July Hall Havana City, Cuba
First Prize in Xylography. Second Engraving Hall Havana City, Cuba.
Recognition for Xylography and linoleum. Third Engraving Hall Havana City, Cuba.
Recognition in Engraving. National Hall of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving. Havana City, Cuba.
National Award. International Festival of Painting. Cannes Sur Mer, France.
Grand Prix. International Engraving Biennial Banzka Bystrika, Czechoslovakia.
Prize in Painting. Triennial of Engaged Realistic Art. Sofia, Bulgaria
Award from the Alejo Carpemtier Center of Cultural Promotion. Havana, Cuba
Third Honorable Recognition First International Graphics Exhibition. Quito, Ecuador
Special Award of the Formative Arts Society of Kuwait. Second Biennial of Havana. Havana, Cuba
Award Jaime Guash Biennial. Barcelona, Spain
First Prize Graphic Biennial. India
Honorable Recognition, Latin American and Caribbean Prints Biennale, Barranquilla, Colombia
Doyusha Prize by Tenri Biennale, Nara, Japan
Award to Scientific Excellence IV Iberoamerican Cellulose and Paper Research Congress. Santiago and Valdivia. Chile
Cultural identity Award in Arts Amelia Peláez. Faculty of law. University of Havana.
“…The treatment, the expression is always stronger in his xylographies, linoleums and linographies. It is as though he needed the battle the smooth surface awaiting to be cut poses; he is challenged, he’s aimed at a considerable level and the struggle begins, within himself concerning either expressive limits or of a physical meaning. The greater the plastic passion, the more efficient; the greater the use of unknown textures and tools, the wider the possibilities one can already see he is able to explore.". (Alejandro G. Alonso / 1976) "
“... Nelson Domínguez renounces being a painter that describes external facts to start looking into his own interior world. Interior de la Manigua (In the woods) is undoubtedly the series where his grand abilities are found. There, the vegetal elements are treated in a way that they integrate images loaded with a subjective emotiveness, the compositional structures turn into more complicated ones, the colors and textures are used taking into account the communicative functions of each and every work. The painting is no longer a relevant aspect due to its subjection to the particular atmosphere of each piece.
(…) Today’s Nelson Domínguez shows confidence in his trade, and above all, a marked interest to convey through the canvas, the engraving or painting, his true anxieties." (Angel Tomás / July, 1983)
“It seems like only yesterday that I met Nelson Domínguez at The Experimental Graphic Arts Gallery, housed in The Palace of the Marquis de Arcos in Havana’s Cathedral Square. In the shadows of its corridors, artists of several generations moved about, one carrying the heavy volcanic stone, another holding up a cardboard still wet with the imprint of fresh paint. Many of those present leaned toward a master of name and fame, who after sealing and numbering a work, placed the graphite in the hands of an apprentice to print the premium run.
In this atmosphere where vision and creation found space and encouragement, poets and writers habitually dropped in. Everyone eventually wound up at The Patio or La Bodeguita Del Medio; or perhaps under some welcoming roof along the Callejón del Chorro or San Ignacio Street, or in the labyrinth of rooms off the Workshop itself, most likely the one where Eutimia lived.
Years have gone by, but certain names still come to mind, among them Nelson’s. How Could I forget it after having visited his studio on Infanta Street and seeing his easel, his brushes and practically all the works he had recently exhibited in a prestigious Salon de La Habana.
Big canvases virtually cover the walls. His finished and technically near-perfect paintings are striking in the mastery of craftsmanship and the perception of a unique and exclusive appreciation of the world inhabited by those strange officiating priests of myth and religious rites, Christians and Africans and the nearly impalpable trace of the Indians.
For a moment, I thought of the Deaf Man’s Manor. Finding myself incapable of choosing among such beauty, I comforted myself with something superior to the possession of one of these works, the fact that I had seen shine in the eyes of the young master the piercing light that signifies true genius.
I feel that this artist, too, is worthy of the noble words of praise that José Martí wrote after seeing the exposition of impressionist painters held in New York City in 1886. (…) “These are the strong painters, the ale painters who are tired of the cold as copy Academy ideal. They want to bring nature to the canvas, palpitating like a naked slave. Only those who have struggled body to body with the truth, to reduce her to a phrase or a verse, know what an honor it is to be defeated by her.”
These words remain as the homage I could not write in an open book.
Now does it surprise me that works of this friend are already included in American and European museums and private collections. He loves the city of Havana as he sees it from the privileged outskirts of Cojímar, where the sea is bluer and the people greet and know each other a privilege the cosmopolitan city has lost. So he has selected ruins that he will help restore and then inhabit, on Oficios Street, in the heart of this area touched by the magic of history. (Eusebio Leal Spengler / September 1993)
At the end of 1990, Nelson Domínguez began a series of paintings he calls Offerings which evokes the spirits that haunt the Cuban country side where he was born and raised. On his shadowed canvas, the somber sensuality of sacrifice is pierced by revelatory light. More worldly the worshipful, Domínguez confesses that he painted Offerings with the profaneness of the nonbeliever who observes from outside with respect..." (Jane McManus / Art News, summer, 1993)
...His art is not a gustatory overtaking on the sport, but it begs something from us, it demands something of us. An ongoing and renew approximation. It is shocking and disturbing at the beginning, however, it gifts us with an indescribable sensation that the artist provides us at the end, a sensation that never fades away. (…) Nelson, as stated by the Cuban poet Lezama Lima, hides himself away and rejoices." (Bienvenido Rodriguez / March, 1987)
THE CONVERSATIONS OF NELSON DOMINGUEZ
“In the sleeplessness, amid the morning, I behold a Nelson Domínguez. It is a bad insomnia: fortunately there is no blackout, though my head grows heavy with the excess of rum and I cannot read. I can just be quiet, gazing at the painting and jotting down these lines. It belongs to the series “talks” and the first glance sends us back to sat figures, one in front of the other, her and him, forcing an impossible dialogue. They share a common arm, the man’s right arm which prolongs itself and turns forever into hers: this fact communicates them, compromises them, ties them and turns them into stands up to the opposite and where she does and vice versa, and we know substances are thereby blended, the blood, the secret fluids. Yet, the shocking paradox of this double image becomes self-evident in the implacable figure that sets them apart. There isn’t dialogue; yet, there is one, it is phony, shallow, and meaningless. The artist gifts us with a fact: the masks. The man, as a matter of fact, is not even looking at his partner: he is searching for another interlocutor behind the mask, and he who sees the painting feels that look upon himself, as though the disgusted figure would try to find a worthwhile word somewhere else. There is something atrocious in the man’s mask, and it is not his beast-like appearance, but the faked attention he cast on the woman.
In the man’s mask there is a kind of zoological meekness that harms us due to its profound duplicity. In his real look, in that eye pointing outwards, there is an outright negation of the mask; there is a fatigue that seems to emerge from the origins.
Less about the woman we know of. Her mask is vicious: it alludes to death, which is the end of the unauthentic dialogue, and the end of everything. It is also the conclusion of the binding, of the shared arm, of the flow and reflow of substances. Her countenance does not give up to us; therefore, we can ponder over a different version: perhaps she’s got her true look on the man, chances are she dislike masks and would like to get closer to the other one, to he who disregards her, who flees away from her, maybe she’s infatuated and wears the mask by mere convention, or revenge, or fear.
Yet, there is a third personage in the darkness. It’s slightly suggested, on the back of the woman, and it is a sad and unlit being that can only listen to the nonsensical words exchanged by the main characters. It neither utters words, nor does it have the right to light. It probably died many years ago and has not found peace so it approaches this world’s living ones in this humiliating way. Is it secretly in love with the woman? It wouldn’t make any sense. It would be absurd to conceive a love triangle at this point, in this crystallization of a no-dialogue and an irreversible binding. It would be tasteless; hence the ghost remains meekly in the darkness, faceless, deprived of rights. Its main role consists of being there, on that level: suggesting there’s something else beside the couple’s drama, and nothing more. It seems to be but nothing, yet it also stands form an obscure form of hope.
(Abel Prieto / September 3, 1993, 3:00 a.m.)
Since many years ago Nelson has been working on a series called Animalario (Animals) with mixed-technique works, where one discovers a fantastic figuration close to Lam’s or Tamayo’s. Men and bugs, myths and everyday facts, the conscious and the unconscious, textures and graphic images live together in an intelligent way, helping to create a shaking enigma on the surface of the canvas, as Zoe Valdés wrote once" (Federico Morais / River, June 1987)
The painter and engraver’s work make up an organic whole without fissures. Nelson Domínguez changes from a procedure into another with the same ease, with the evident ease of a committed activity. The never-ending experimentation is no longer an end, but a way. He does not overlook the fact that a painting or engraving above all is and after all a plastic phenomenon, there is nothing fruitless or uncalled-for in Nelson’s. Everything is subjected to an expressive end. To reach this goal he misshapes, accentuates and stresses in order to achieve a greater expressiveness...” (Jorge Rigor / October, 1976)
A long time ago, Nelson Domínguez surpassed the highest levels of American art. His style is marked by highly personal qualities. The contemporary art museums I have visited demonstrate that Nelson has not been influenced by such patriarchs as Bacon, Tapies, Rothko or Kline. In his painting, I see only one reflection: Nelson Domínguez, one of the greats of Cuban painting. (Leo Brouwer)
"His most recent topics deal with the kingdom of the Afrocuban religions. Offerings and man emerges clear to the anatomical with a very complex study of color. They seem to sum up the painted, the lived, the engraved; the chipped out… images that crowd the Creator hand’s surface who experiences any substance or material which comes his way." (Toni Piñera / August, 1993)
“...Among his creations there are figurations of the Cuban countryside everyday life, epic visions, fantastic prints based on animals of all kinds (…) and also faces implying different values, erotic indicators, and very personal interpretations of the Pre-Hispanic manuscripts. There is not likeness between one Dominguez’s and another. The differences arise from a constant search for new expressive means as oil, crayon, acrylics, gouache, tinge and cuttings on the surfaces, asphalt and even powdered coal. He is, in fact, a highly esteemed Cuban artist on the subject matter.” (Jose A. Martinez Rojas / Sto. Domingo, August, 1991)"
His work"...continues to be a smooth activity, and we can neither notice boredom or exhaustion of the topic. Since being an artist who has multiplied his power of expression, he is gifted with enough resources to handle the inevitable cruises that the exhaustion of a topic or the repeated attempt of a technical solution might bring about… (Marta Arjona / 1983)
“... Search for textures is enriched with the combination of shadows and cuttlefish enhanced in gold and pastel colors, of which the most notable is perhaps that fabulous night butterfly tipped white lady, with colors of fire. Writing, black pastel color, gives cameos ochre, red, brown, beige golden and green, a lovely power and an unprecedented dramatic force under the apparent explosion of the beauty of creation. In love of drawing and painting, as Hokusai, who signed his works, thus recalled him sensitive and restless, always questioning and whose major concern is the representation of the relationship between the basic elements of nature – Earth, air, water, fire, animal and man;is perhaps first and foremost a metaphysical painter.” (Joelle Guyot / Paris, 1983)
I know of this small, lucid man who uses chance as his starting point. I know of his eagerness to delve into the mysteries of darkness and the mystic of charcoal. This constant maker of visions where colorful fire-flies roam, who once filled his images with maidens charmed by leaves and cane, this man, a friend forever, endowed with the gift of never halting. He is definitively a painter to the end, hand-in-hand with a palm, shoulder to shoulder with whatever has the scent of the sea.
This is a small man whose eyes are caught in a Chaplin-like gesture, a juggler of words, who calls me sometimes to insult me with all of his truth because he waters and cultivates his friends as if they were flowers, because he is a father and brother. I embrace him and I admire him. (Pedro Pablo Oliva)
The little colossus of the imagination stands before the blank space and masters it fearlessly every time. Firm black strokes rush toward the space. The adventure of art has begun. I have often been an accomplice, a witness of his fable-making" (René Palenzuela)
If you happen to come upon an elf traipsing around the world, from Tokyo to Carraguao, charming the muses with the smoke oh his huge cigars, that will be Nelson Domínguez." (Sosabravo)