Jose Luis Posada

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By LUIZ BERNARDO PERICAS*

Commentary on the artistic career of the designer and engraver

A man of creative rages and hallucinations, an uncompromising critic and inventor of terrible creatures. This is how Víctor Casaus described the draftsman and engraver José Luis Posada, one of the most important graphic artists of the XNUMXth century.

Born in Villaviciosa (Asturias) in 1929, he saw firsthand the horrors of the Spanish Civil War when he was still a child. He fled with his family to France, but after crossing the border he was arrested by local authorities and sent to a concentration camp, as were thousands of his exiled compatriots in that country. At the age of 11, he emigrated to Cuba. He made San Antonio de Los Baños his new home.

Totally self-taught, he developed a strong, provocative, versatile, poetic, combative trait. A master. “Drawing against violence, mediocrity, schematism and imbeciles”. One cannot talk about the history of political caricature in Cuba without mentioning his name.

Financial rewards were never his goal: “I have no relationship with the market. […] Personally, I am not interested in the painting market”, she once said in an interview. And he added: “In reality, I am an economic failure”. For him, “humor is something profound. It's even tragic. And the laugh too. […] Laughter is a way to release tragedy. Not for fun. It is a struggle of opposites”.

In fact, all of Posada's work expresses an enormous discomfort with reality, an indignation with the war, a hatred of imperialism. Just remember its emblematic series, such as Top Hat, El capital, Unusual creatures e Yet. Francisco Zapico Díaz pointed out that Posada presented the public with a panoply of mutilated homunculi, decrepit characters, fat capitalists in top hats, skeletons, barbed wires. Often dreamlike and surrealist images (a mixture of horror and beauty), which denounced the alienation of contemporary man and ruthlessly satirized those who had contributed to the misfortunes of the world. Jaime Sarusky, in turn, would emphasize Posada's imaginary monsters, his “animals”, represented by deformed and disgusting figures: warlords, “gorillas”, explorers. That is, all those who were part of his museum of the grotesque.

You can find it in your drawings and lithographs the influence of names like Picasso, Goya, Bosch, Munch and Grosz. At times, Posada's line resembles that of the Mexican Rius. In others, he recalls certain pictorial and stylistic experiments by Moebius. The exploration of diverse techniques can clearly be seen in his works.

Posada was also moved by literature. An admirer of Gabriel García Márquez and Alejo Carpentier, he illustrated like few books by both authors (One hundred years of loneliness, of the first and By chance, of the last). In just three months, he made no less than 130 drawings inspired by the famous novel by the Colombian writer. Regarding this, he commented: “El mundo de García Márquez es el de La aldea. Small, with brothels that at the best are a mugrienta cow. You feel that it hurts the moo, the sweat. There are no perfumes. It's La Tierra Dura. Hueles El agrio de La vida, que también es hermoso”. And, remembering the conflict in his homeland, he told an unusual episode:“I remember a little boy, who, after the war ended, in a nearby village, on the side of Galicia, when the Francoists arrived, took over the village and decided to put a canary in its cage, because it had belonged to a maestro (who had been able to escape from it). attack). And they blew it because the maestro had taught the canary to tararear 'La Internacional' and La cantaba very clara. And then, los franquistas lo llevan y lo fusilan contra um árbol em La plaza de La iglesia. This world is macondidian”.The fundamental themes that interested Posada, after all, were“La Fantasia, La Magia, El hombre Mágico; my man in the magician doesn't tell me anything, I'm interested in magic. That's why I feel so good in Cuba, because it's a country that fortunately will never lose its magic”.

Posada participated in the battle of Playa Girón, the fight against bandits in the Sierra del Escambray and the missile crisis. He was a man of action. And also an eternal nonconformist. Since he decided to venture into the art world he has collaborated with many well known publications such as Rebel Youth (and its humorous supplements), La Tarde, Revolución, Bohemia, Casa de las Américas, Pueblo y Cultura, Granma and the one that marked him the most, El Caiman Barbudo, among many others. He has held dozens of solo and group exhibitions in Cuba and abroad, in countries such as Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Romania, Poland, Venezuela, Sweden, Nicaragua and Spain. And, of course, she has won numerous awards throughout her lifetime.

This multifaceted artist and “tireless portraitist of the human condition”, who illustrated books, made caricatures and produced a significant amount of prints (in addition to designing costumes for plays and being a respected set designer), is unfortunately still little known in Brazil . It remains the wish that his work is, at some point, more publicized and appreciated here.

In an interview given at the age of 71, Posada said that “I would like to be a man made of moss”. He wanted to return to nature once and for all, to the essence of everything. His work undoubtedly shows in an acidic, direct and incisive way all the horrors and injustices of capitalism in the contemporary world.

* Luiz Bernardo Pericas He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of Caio Prado Júnior: a political biography (Boitempo).

 

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