critical texts


Planting tulips
Frency Fernández Rosales

My first approaches to his work were related with a group of pressing objects made of recycled elements and papers with his notes and drawings, protected with wax or paraffin. The result: from small installations and mixed media to pieces of larger scale with which Douglas created a metaphor of the act of capturing memory and the time contained in each one of his drawn or written reflections. They produced a kind of soliloquy, slightly revealed, like strange, secret chests, in the obsessive fashion in which Henry VIII grouped his correspondence in blocks of letters according to their senders or addressees.
Based on these works and many drawings and projects we began to prepare the show on Time for January 2003. For that exhibition Douglas concluded his work Duraciones, an installation in which he boosts the idea of life after death through laboratory tools and graphic registries derived from the chemical reactions on animal organs. A work of strong processing sense which always reminded me of Hitchcock's or Spielberg's mechanical form of operating: an event activates a whole cause-effect mechanism. This time derived from the idea of Dr. Frankenstein's myth. Later he installed Encuentro, manipulating the physical- optical paradox of the hemispheres inverted by means of glass tubes. Already in this piece his proclivity for «what seems to be and is not» -a more hidden, resting thought in Duraciones- becomes more evident.
But if anything I pointed out to Douglas, that was the concern for the end result, allowing the seams of these and other works of his in those days to be seen. An artist may construct and disguise the possible fractures of what he creates, but in many cases -as in painting or installation- when their foundations convey an apparent moderation of formal resources there are things which are not to be learned, which belong to an inexplicable kingdom that can make us apt to know when a work is ready.
If we review his proposals, Acción o efecto de convertir is going to concretize that previously unfinished wish of his. From its initial project I considered it of evident forcefulness, touching on that indeterminate point of what ceases to be art but returns us to its kingdom by means of the alleged absurd it evokes: a continuum of the transitory, of what is ceasing to be but still is. With this installation of participative nature, Douglas apparently induces us to
think of the finitude, but its cyclical connotation assures eternity to the point of the unattainable and the invisible, starting from a point between erotic, ordinary and obscene that ends in a trope ' of the alchemistic trapped in its own gimmick.
I think that Acción o efecto de convertir opens a road in his way of doing with much to be experimented that will connect with later works, but until today it leaves extensive suspension dots perhaps not fully conceived by its author. As a «change», Subduing initiates a more obvious aesthetic urge in the artist, in which he combines minimalist resources with his interest for organic matter, philosophical sources and ideas as far reaching space, a far reaching quality that is going to show already the catching hooves of language.
Those same hooves made his installation environment Úlcera a risky staging in terms of location, temporary synchronization, mechanics and use of philosophical inter texts, where the artist was to display an energy already evoked in Acción o efecto de convertir. But the tropological power and resolution of his concept, in my opinion, were almost emphatic in Úlcera, supported by a productive structure that was to enable the achievement of more complex works. This process went in crescendo up to the present, with some group exhibitions during this period such as ARTH-GOTH in 2997 at Galería La Casona in old Havana, in a more pictorial direction.
In this period Douglas produced works of high poetic result, strange serenity, evident aesthetic beauty and a peculiar way of leading us to sensations such as anxiety, uncertainty, «enjoyment» of spiritual pain and possible roads emerged with his solo show Variaciones Goldberg. He moves morphologically -drawing, large format painting, objects, installations and environment-, all of it linked by thoughts related with the knowledge of reality, its historical and cultural processes.
This exhibition clearly showed the ultimate sense of his inquiries in art: to intend to dissect the notion of reality through components that lead us to the temporal, spatial, imaginary, illusory, daily and existential. Like other creators, Douglas then perceives the work of art as transit, as medium between the creative action and the created, to motivate us to penetrate that region where language is exhausted, where it finds no other possible way as cognitive, hermeneutic tool and where one is forced to replace much by emotion, by the senses in order to inquire into «beauty» and risk discovering the «illusion» of words, concepts and things. [...]
While at times there has been an attempt to give a hierarchical structure to a good part of art from a secular perspective of identity requiring review -through institutions and critical discourses that contextualize the discourse to almost provincial levels- Douglas relates himself to a different group of creators who free themselves from the most recurrent symbols of Cuban art and at the same time proposes a work of a certain density. Behind it is a personal response marked by pretending to free himself from the much constructed. His expression is marked by the existential, by his experience of life, but without the travestied, folkloristic urge that keeps proclaming itself with the fanfares of a perhaps already virtual identity.

By: Frency Fernández