In his conference he talks about the Maspalomas lighthouse, but with the focus on the work of the painter Juan Hernández. What attracts you about this artist?
Yes. His painting is a benchmark for the generation of artists that emerged in the 70s on the islands. This was a moment of transition, a process towards the democratization of freedom of expression. The pieces that belong to the series Poema del faro, by Hernández, assume in the figure of the Maspalomas lighthouse a symbol of modernity and also the artist mythologizes the moment of becoming of the Archipelago, when mass tourism created important consequences on the impact of the territory and the very awareness of the fragility of the insular nature.
So is the lighthouse the symbol of freedom and progress?
Yes. Hernández metaphorizes the figure of the lighthouse in a lyrical gaze that mythologizes the symbol of progress on the islands. In many other places, art ends up surviving in the face of processes of deterioration of culture and loss of identity. Hernández’s works symbolize the artist’s desire to live and his search for his own language that makes the existential itinerary of an artist sometimes connect directly with the history of a people.
He also comments that it is not only an architectural element, but also a dreamlike one. What do you mean?
In the last 50 years, the Maspalomas lighthouse has symbolized the island’s tourism; It has been seen by millions of people. Hernández’s paintings on the lighthouse preserve that eternity that belongs to myth and dream, which only art is capable of transmitting to human perception. We are in a moment of generalized uncertainty where art and culture are basic rights for society and this escapes the language of screens and advertising discourse, which saturates the gaze of citizens and condemns nature to remain under the pincers. of mass speech. This conference represents the need to become aware of the artistic values of the identity of the islands.
The landscape that now surrounds the Maspalomas lighthouse is very different, the land has been taking land from the sea to commercially develop the area.
I am a Canarian writer, but I have lived in Mexico for a long time and through the experience of migration I have been able to see the reality of the islands seen from the outside and this always shows some daily problems that perhaps only art is capable of solving, because this is also politics. From the window of the returned emigrant, the experience of writing about artists is a way to regain the right to citizenship that is lost when you leave. I have the urge to reconnect with its symbols and references throughout history, but now we are facing an environmental crossroads in which sociology even enters, speaking of a future collapse due to the unsustainable model that the Archipelago suffers from. It cannot be that such a small island has so many shopping centers and hotels. The artist maintains a dialogue with these symbols to offer the population a better future.
Do you think that culture on the Island has a leading role?
We are at the height of the circumstances to be a privileged setting for the development of new artistic manifestations. Another thing is the rhythm of the institutions and the market, which do not value landscapes for their beauty but rather speculate on the use value of those landscapes for profit. Juan Hernández’s paintings, for example, evoke the need to find new consumer habits and new ways of understanding our insularity, which is going to be increasingly cosmopolitan. We must enjoy patterns of coexistence closer to ecology and art than to hotel resorts and shopping centers.
He links the artist’s work with his project ‘Reading tourism’, which is turning ten years old.
Yes, what those of us who create it seek is, like Hernández’s paintings, to rehumanize that space of tourist citizenship through poetry. We have concerns and we maintain the voice of the Canarian lyric before the invisibility that tourism produces in cultural values. The tourist window devours everything and turns everything into merchandise and poetry ends up being like a swan song in that panorama.
How has it impacted since its creation?
We note that the sensitivity in the cultural panorama about the tourist city has increased. The Canary Islands is a milestone, we have been pioneers in the implementation of hospitality for millions of people and that is why we are also called to take on the role of change in the development model and change this tourist city into an international one in which the contact with nature, the enhancement of landscapes, etc. Everything that the hotel infrastructure implies but from a playful, peaceful and cordial point of view.