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Overloading the painted place with spiritual energy

12-08-2016 10:10 AM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: Fidel Micó Catalogue Raisonnée

Havana, Wednesday, 07 December 2016 – The researcher in charge of the project Fidel Micó Catalogue Raisonné (FMCR) is pleased to announce relevant findings from the visual analysis of the painting “Atardecer en el riachuelo” (100 x 150 cm, oil on canvas, 2011, Chinese private collector) [1, 2] sold for 8 000 USD in 2011 after exhibition in Havana [3]. Visitor reactions to this painting were difficult to describe, because articulating coherent statements was almost impossible for most of them, suggesting the need for a parsimonious visual analysis of this artwork. The viewer fells immediately lost into the background of a dazzling landscape where light and shadow works as attraction factors creating two sceneries: one in the background, and another around the streamlet. In the first one, sunlight is irradiated by using Naples yellow C, permanent yellow C, and mixed white for filling every empty space and vegetation border within a logical light pathway. In the second one, emerald green, and permanent yellow green are major protagonists of a detailed three-dimensional construction in the foreground and over the river where light is defined by a beautiful combination of permanent yellow C, transparent yellow M, and transparent white, rounded by emerald green, and permanent blue violet.

The subject of this masterpiece penetrates into the subconscious almost at the same time as viewers feel into the painted place, mostly because the artist has been able to communicate a sensation of light fade-out within the foliage of an entangle vegetation. Contrary to expectations, balances of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines were not sufficiently difficult for Micó, and he put at test his mastery by introducing two more subtle shapes for guiding the viewer’s attention to the centre. The visual impact of painted forms at the foreground, dribs the viewer of being in a tropical landscape, preparing the scenery, at the same time, to attract his interest to the background, where contrast of yellow and brown ochre seems to take control of the subject.

A central parabola is the origin of all lines and forms, and the ellipse placed over it reinforces the attention centre to the left side of both shapes. The parabola marks out the ground, and supports the elliptical diagonal light as a balance of vertical palms hiding the sunset. The sight is initially guided to the parabolic branches, and gently slipped to the upper elliptical branches through an unavoidable pathway to the subject: an eventide between two palms. This visual effect may be considered as an exceptional feature of this painting, because the viewer is not directly guided to principal elements, but firstly, the composition forces the viewer to find the third dimension in the background to avoid finding other distracting elements, different from the elliptical light over the parabola, and then approach the sight to major components of the painting.

The triangular shapes of leafs work by dosing diagonal lines as a balance of the streamlet’s horizontal lines. Enough separation between forms and masses is clearly perceptible, but deeper than in the painting “La despedida en la Moca” (120 x 160 cm, oil on canvas, 2008, Russian private collector) [4 - 8] in the small vegetation of the foreground which demonstrates a high level of pictorial mastery for solving almost microscopic details. The contours of three groups have been traced with particular care: i-) palms on the left side, ii-) trees on the right, and iii-) vegetation on the lower foreground. The accumulation of contours in a vertical space is an extraordinary challenge, in isolation, and all together, where the reflection of the first group over the streamlet’s surface points to the third one, which traces the contour of the second one with a parabolic shape that works avoiding the lost of interest for the painting. Volumes are also defined with high accuracy.

Three lines and forms are excelling in this artwork: i-) lines and forms of the trees, ii-) trees’ branches and iii-) palms’ panache timidly fondling trees’ branches which suggest the beginning of a long-lasting and deep relationship. Unaccountable conjuncts of different forms interrupt the space joining all together, at the same time, in a highly sophisticated geometric arrangement. The development in-depth of diagonal curves delineating the right margin of the streamlet rebounds in the middle of a succession of contrast and small “rapports” that show extensive diversity of living forms hosted in the smallest nature’s nooks. The balance of colour on the streamlet’s surface shows a right proportion of area and intensity that reinforce the development in-depth from the right foreground to the dark background of the left foliage.

Each golden mean fills the viewer’s eyes with abundant visual pleasure. If this painting were divided in nine equal compartments, a different subject could be found in each one. Three-dimensional compartments in-depth are also notably relevant, and audacious. At least, three levels are immediately identified in-depth as a non-linear development of the third dimension following a half parabola from the group of trees to the palms, and finally to the background’s trees, in opposite direction to the right. The equilibrium of line, mass, tone, space, and colour have been more than carefully worked by this artist. Unaccountable details demonstrate the excellence on the equilibrium of each element. The principal component is highlighted and placed over the line of the left golden mean, and equilibrated by the brown Van Dyck colour of the trunks placed in the middle ground probably for strengthening perception of a distant principal element. A sequence of warm colours and contrasts reinforce the vitality of the composition.

The treatment of light in the work of Fidel Micó is particularly interesting, which has been highlighted by a major connoisseur [9 - 10]. The almost empty space suggested by the streamlet, from the foreground to the group of palms, prepares the viewer’s mind for penetrating into a middle ground defined by the Naples yellow C colour that vanishes to the Zinc-white clouds in the sky. Although, as usually in tropical landscapes, this painting is plenty of permanent green C in the high-key, these areas are balanced with brown ochre. Unlike recent Micó’s paintings, forms are built with interactions between light and shadow. Green tones are much more extensive in this painting than in previous paintings, and unity is much more evident. Details are not simplified, but reality is intentionally highlighted.

Chromatic and tonal schemes transmit a deep emotion to the viewer, not only through the principal element, but also through each nook in the painted place. The dry fallen branch and the rising one on the surface not only delimit streamlet surface, but also work as balance of extensive green tonalities. In addition, the frame-work of branches entangled with green climber on the right golden mean draws the attention to the middle ground, enriching authenticity of emotions transferred to the viewer by linear, tonal, and chromatic schemes. A detailed observation of the streamlet is the key for penetrating an almost imperceptible interface between repose and dynamics suggested in this artwork. An issue that could be easily ignored is a slight increase of water flow at the end of the streamlet suggesting a small waterfall behind or within vegetation at left middle ground. A more pleasant grace-note is donated by the sunset behind the palms introducing a virtual time scale, and forecasting the appearance of the painted place during the next hours of the evening. The fallen branches and those without leafs offer an intermediary state between repose, and the paused relentless advance of nature. Additionally, the climber suggests a more extended time scale. In the painting “Atardecer en el riachuelo”, Micó gives a new dimension to the existence of plants, rivers, and light, but also overloads the painted place with spiritual energy, asking for recognition of nature’s rights as a world citizen. He imposes a suspended and almost stopped vision on the viewer, plenty of heat, details, and narrative dynamics.


1. Buxadó J. A., Charlotte C. The silence’s smell. First edition, 2015, Raleigh: Lulu Press Inc., p. 21 - 26.
2. Grove A. P., Grove R. W. Fidel’s Cuba. Sidney: Photobookrus, 2016.
3. Sin irnos por las ramas. La Habana: Galería La Acacia, June 2011. Exhibition catalogue. Curator: Roberto Cobas.
4. Cada quien con su paisaje. La Habana: Galería La Acacia, May-July 2008, Exhibition catalogue. Preface by Tony Piñera.
5. Piñera T. Cada quien con su paisaje. Granma (newspaper), July 13th, 2008.
6. Capote A. Enfoques del Paisaje. Tribuna de la Habana (newspaper), July 18th, 2008.
7. Cubaminrex-Embacuba Rusia-PL. Cuba explora mercado de artes ruso. Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs. September 24th, 2009.
8. Cuban Visions. Doha: Cuban Embasy in Qatar, 2009. Exhibition catalogue. Preface by Tony Piñera.
9. Sorí J. M. Five Contemporary Latin American Artists. Miami Art Guide, September 16th, 2008.
10. Sorí J. M. Fidel Micó and Ivan Loboguerrero. Recent Works. Art Circuits Newsletters. Vol. 5, Nº 29, May 2010, p. 10.

Fidel Micó Catalogue Raisonné (FMCR) should be understood as an applied research project intended to explore the work anf life of the painter Fidel Micó in the last 40 years. This project, submitted to Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association and International Foundation for Art Research, may encourage current owners of Micó’s works (mostly from USA, Mexico, Italy, and Spain) to supply information and images for provenance research and authentication. We also hope that the FMCR shows a good sense of how Micó’s method and practice has been throughout his lifetime working in different formats, and genres.

Rodríguez Nº 14, entre Maboa y Rabí, apto 1, Rpto. Santos Suárez, Municipio 10 de Octubre, La Habana, Cuba.

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