With his dreamlike, ink-on-paper renderings of mystical rivers, mountains and forests, Cuban artist Rubén Fuentes aims to capture the grandeur and power of nature at a time when our planet’s ecosystems are in their most vulnerable state. Borrowing from the concepts and aesthetics of Chinese and Japanese shan-shui and sumi-e brush painting, Fuentes uses a combination of spontaneous and detail-oriented brush work to depict vast landscapes and overgrown structures in an attempt to “return to nature what has been taken away” by generations of human destruction.
In describing his work, Fuentes says, “I try to represent in my artworks an inner strength, a cosmological and telluric force within us that transcends the duality of matter and spirit. The practice of zen, along with a worship of mother earth and the invocation of vital forces in nature, inherited from the past of the native Cubans, Afro-Cuban culture, as well as Chinese Taoism, mark the center of my latest works.”
The artist’s latest series Mind Landscapes represents his deep respect for nature, particularly the lush greenery of his homeland, and sympathy for the planet’s eroding habitats. Fuentes has described Mind Landscapes as a “forceful contrary” to the global impact of human activity on Earth, instilling Taoist imagery and philosophy into his work to restore the balance between human beings and their environments. Above all, Fuentes is motivated to create art as a means of “self-knowledge” that inspires “a way of improving ethical behavior and cognitive abilities, integrated into a harmonious life.” View more images from his Mind Landscapes series here.
Rubén Fuentes holds a PhD in Art: Production and Research and a Master of Fine Arts from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain. In addition to his personal work, he is a professor of art who teaches drawing, painting and the art of sumi-e. He currently lives and works between Paris and Havana.