The monumental watercolor paintings by Alejandro Piñeiro Bello seem more intensive than they actually are. His vibrant jungles of color are populated by various species of gesture: the swipe, the stain, the spray, the stroke, and yet, as the artist puts it, “I want to make my paintings as simple as I can, without body. Very thin. It’s like making a povera painting, almost with nothing.” With as little paint as possible, Piñeiro achieves a maximal effect with these unfiltered portrayals of intuition.
His first solo show at The Love You, EN MI CASA builds on Piñeiro’s attempts to capture the essence of ideas before they’re taken over by more familiar forms and subjects. His large abstractions contain free-floating shapes and lines, scribbles and smudges, and pools of color that, if allowed, would otherwise bloom into full color fields. The occasional figure and text also make an appearance, but are never the dominant motif—instead they are swallowed, metabolized into abstraction.
Chaotic yet balanced, this suite of mostly new works by Piñeiro were made in the gallery, where he keeps his studio. EN MI CASA builds on Piñeiro’s sense of upheaval: Born in Havana and moving around for much of his life, Piñeiro has come to see his mind—and thus his practice—as home. Like a snail with its shell, he carries it with him wherever he goes. (“I just had to make my home in my head,” he says.) The movement of these paintings reflect not only the shifts of his thinking, but of his physical body.
Piñeiro envisions these paintings as portals, or perhaps more accurately, windows, providing viewers with a look at his imagination. Some are dominated by the watery blues of deep thought, others the reds of heightened states of passion. Each painting is a distinct landscape, focused on a certain frequency of color and mood. But works like “CUANDO TU ME MIRAS” (“when you look at me”), contain an almost comical melange—highlighter greens, oranges, and pinks mingle with bold black strokes, and in the corner, a face bubbles up to the surface.
Piñeiro’s paintings draw from the history of abstract expressionism, but they jettison the thick, labor intensive process, preferring an ethereal, light touch across the massive, unprimed canvases. EN MI CASA represents Piñeiro’s further experiments with wetting his canvases in order to produce elegant stains of color. The result is a sophisticated, almost hallucinogenic quality, rendered by Piñeiro’s efforts to materialize his work as quickly as possible, before inspiration can harden into legible forms.
Guided by momentary states of being rather than set subjects, Piñeiro allows his paintings to retain a sort of naive joy. Inspired in part by the techniques of Albert Oehlen—whose interest in “bad” paintings allows the intrusion of crude marks and audacious hues—these works by Piñeiro move from hysterical and disorderly to peaceful and contemplative, a representation of the artist’s mind and body as it moves from one thought to the next.
ALEJANDRO PIÑEIRO BELLO (Havana, Cuba. 1990) is a visual artist who delves in the fields of painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video art, and virtual reality. He graduated with honors at the National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro in Havana (2006-2010), where he was later appointed Creative painting professor. He founded and was for seven years a member of the Havana based collective STAINLESS. He authored major public art projects for the XI, XII and XIII Havana Biennials (2012, 2015 and 2019). Both The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, New York, and The Rockefeller Brothers Fund in collaboration with Pioneer Works, New York (in 2014 and 2017 respectively) bestowed him scholarships. Since 2017, Piñeiro has pursued a solo career; he lives and works in Miami, FL.