Wilber Ortega remembers his childhood in constant observation of nature. His curiosity for the environment and the inexplicable delight of discovery created the foundations – without him suspecting it – of the complete landscape artist he is today. Thus, as natural as the name of the exhibition he is currently exhibiting at the gallery of the Provincial Committee of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC in Spanish), he tells 26 about some of the experiences and worldviews that mark his work.
“When I was in high school and pre-school, I needed to make drawings in notebooks and notebooks. I would let my imagination run wild during class shifts of subjects that did not offer any interest to me. But I still didn’t think it could be a profession as such,” he continues in his parsimonious and polite voice.
After a series of intermittent intermittences in the student and work spheres, he began to appreciate the landscape of his life more clearly. The certainty of the profession came to him unknowingly, many years ago. “I didn’t finish my pre-university studies. I worked at whatever I could. My parents had divorced…
“It was in Las Parras, working in Construction Maintenance – where I worked for nine months – that I discovered a glimpse of what I would do later on. At that time I was gluing asphalt, in street repairs. It stuck to my shoes, my clothes, everything. I had to use a trowel, work with rocks, and achieve the different levels… it wasn’t easy.
“One day, when a pipe with oil accidentally tipped over, the contents spilled out. It was a kind of black mirror, it had a great impact on me. In a way, I had glimpsed a landscape there. Then I went to my local cultural center, saw an instructor, and began to prepare myself to take the exam for the Las Tunas Provincial Academy of Plastic Arts. And happily, I passed,” he sums up.
“Nature offers us all the elements we need to capture reality, such as sky, atmosphere, colors… And that allows us to make – even – an abstract or another aspect of plastic art. It makes it easier for us to adapt any nuance harmoniously in the painting”, explains the virtuoso of the paintbrush.
Today his name is more than a paradigm in landscape painting. However, Wilber is still that noble and simple boy, who does not “go to his head with fame” and therefore helps new cultivators to perfect their work. Some of his disciples are currently sharing their creations in the collective exhibition Confluencia, based in the branch from Las Tunas of the Nicolás Guillén Foundation (FNG).
Although he has shown mastery of the traditional landscape, it is surrealism that marks his work, full of symbols and concepts that merge with nature to give us his interpretation of the environment, from his thematic lines. And it is when new themes appear and even some perhaps trite ones within the plastic art become different because the treatment is different, and it seems to us to be inside a dream or oneiric landscape.
“It is the movement within the History of Art that has had the greatest impact on me because you can apply the technique and also represent the background of a thought or idea, it is incredible what can be achieved with the imagination, how you can create a new reality. From the past to the present, various artists have been seduced by this expression,” Ortega confesses.
Finally, he thanks God for the privilege of giving him eyes to enjoy the beautiful creation that is nature and for the talent that has led him to hold personal and collective exhibitions in such prestigious places as the National Theatre of Cuba, the Convent of San Francisco de Asís and the Palacio de las Convenciones, institutions based in Havana.
He has also participated in international events such as the VI, VII, and VIII editions of the International Art Biennial SUBA, held in Colombia, as well as exhibitions in Spain and elsewhere. His multiple awards speak – in addition – of the mastery achieved by this native of Majibacoa, who one day – in a kind of black and shiny mirror – discovered, to our good fortune, the “supreme enjoyment” of landscape painting.