SILFREDO LA O VIGO
My paintings uncover sublime evocations of my faith that speak in response to everyday challenges. I use motion, color, symbolism, and intuition as tools of revelation in my art. By embracing the sacred practices of my Afro-Cuban heritage, I offer visual responses to questions that often elude logic, language, or rationality. I am from Contramaestre Santiago de Cuba, the son of Mercedes Vigo Ramos and Silfredo La O Lopez. I was raised among a naturally expressive family who nurtured my artistry from a very early age. Painting was my first passion as a youth, and even after I was recruited by the Escuela National de Artes to become a professional dancer, I rediscovered the visual medium while touring the United States as a young adult. My early works deal with the profound alienation I experienced in navigating this new environment and alternate world-view. Images of nationality, landscape, cityscape, and the displacement of bodies are prevalent in these paintings.
As my practice developed, I shifted from a career as a professional dancer with painting at the periphery, to a career as a visual artist. Interestingly, my kinesthetic awareness as a painter who has also mastered Cuban folkloric dance provides an interdisciplinary aspect to my creative process. I consider my body a channel through which memory, colonial legacies, and faith intersect with notions of my personal evolution as a man, a father, and a descendant Afro-Cuban ancestry. While painting, my body encapsulates present, past, and future at once. I am keenly aware of the larger questions that reveal themselves through my works— contemplations of captivity and escape in a painting such as Equiano or the entanglement of religions represented in a painting such as Sembrador de Esperanza. However, my process insists that I allow the painting to have its own breath—to simply exist within itself, prior to itself, and beyond itself. I have shared the performance aspects of my process in select exhibits where Afro-Cuban dance traces the evolution of the painting as a collective occasion.
My most recent projects move towards intimate investigations into the stories of Cuban-Americans with a particular focus on the passage of families and individuals between national boundaries. As my future paintings elicit conversation among our community, I broaden my practice by embracing multiple mediums and experimental formats. I aim to create in conversation with Cuba’s masters, Wilfredo Lam and Manuel Mendive, as well as the wealth of experimental artists, outsider artists, and emerging artists of Cuban descent.