Portraits that do not return from the "desert of the real"

By Isdanny Morales Sosa

(…) The “great Other” pulls the strings, while

The subject is an expression of the symbolic order.


Engendered between the fifth and fourth centuries before the Platonic thought gave an account on the artifice that means the knowable reality through the senses. As a result of this thesis, his thought placed in a transcendent space a supposed true, perfect, and universal reality, all of which seemed to start from the philosophical thought to the metaphysical systems of the western world. This Platonic conception, extirpated or not of its transcendentalism, has been retaken in different moments of our history. The Slovenian Slavoj Žižek covered by Lacanian theory considers that reality is nothing more than a symbolic construction, before which we distance ourselves from the “desert of the real”.

The work of Cuban artists Sandra Naranjo and Emmanuel Diaz just also seems to refer to this problematic. The genre mostly cultivated by his career as a whole is that of the portrait, specifically, the human face. Almost all its pieces are built based on two structures or realities. At the beginning, the most striking is that of these faces made with a meticulous craft and mostly in hyperrealistic language. The “represented” can be from beautiful young women who show the freshness and sensuality of their physique to elderly people who wear the trace of death on their faces. After this first look, from the image it is discovered that the structures of the faces are meticulously constructed from other tiny figures: sometimes, birds of prey, others, mechanical pieces.

His works then in gestaltian nod are articulated largely from no optical illusions fortuitous. Both behind the beautiful prints of the girls and the decaying figures of the longevity common feelings hide: the neurosis, the fantasy, the rot simulation. The work of these young creators also seeks to problematize about that “desert of the real” and our consequent distancing. On many occasions, the images or attitudes that are presented to us as true or real are no more than a construction, production or symbolic projection, even more in a constellation like ours crossed by an aestheticization of everyday life.

Man often unconsciously plays a role, simulates ideologies or feelings to adjust to the demands of the social fabric. Consequently, the use of portrait as an expressive medium is not casual either. His interest is to present this phenomenon not in a collective key or macro experience, but also in subjectivity and individual psychology. The simulation and construction of multiple realities begins from the subject itself, from its intimacy, which has been one of the great themes of philosophical debate of all times and which these artists bring to our knowledge and reflection from the visual arts.