Arts & Culture

Evans Molina Fernandez composes vibrant paintings

Multi-dimensional artist brings Afro-Cuban, musically-inspired perspective to RI

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 12, 2018

Multidisciplinary artist Evans Molina Fernandez has amassed a large following in the Providence art scene with his dynamic aesthetic. Drawn from his Afro-Cuban identity and his passion for music, his multiculturally-influenced art has impressed gallerists and curators with both its formal aspects and its ability to provoke a range of emotions in viewers.

Aesthetic mission

Fernandez wants his viewers to feel free, “to feel whatever (they) want to feel,” he said. “I don’t pretend (to impose my views) like ‘that’s what I’m thinking.’ It’s not my kind of art.”

When Fernandez paints, it is never just to arrive at the finished product. “It’s a ritualistic performance,” he said. He also uses other creative media, including poetry, the music of the conga and the West African shekere, he added.

While describing a recently completed painting, “Dancer Indigena of the Holidays,” Fernandez addressed how during holidays, “people are celebrating a moment (during which) other people are suffering.” The painting appears to depict a dancing figure surrounded by circular “vibrations,” Fernandez said. “In indigenous cultures, we dance to manifest pain,” he added.

He intentionally avoids describing his art as political. “I was never a political artist, I am more about cultural (subjects),” he said, eschewing themes of political oppression for more “universal” matters.

Creative upbringing 

Fernandez grew up in a bustling creative environment in ’80s Havana. His mother was a dancer and his father worked in the music recording industry, which exposed him at an early age to Cuban musical greats such as the folk singer Silvio Rodríguez, he said. “Music is very important for me in my life (as) an artist.”

As an adult, he began to forge his path as a creative through multiple forms of expression, including designing sets for teleplays, restoring historical sites around Cuba, studying cinematography and scriptwriting as well as directing a performance art group, he said. In 2003, he produced “Tiempo,”  an experimental short film shown at festivals in Cuba and Spain that depicted a surrealist, reality-bending experience.

Move to Rhode Island

Fernandez moved to Block Island, Rhode Island in 2006 after befriending Rhode Island School of Design graduates who had visited Cuba, including Providence artists Andrew Moon Bain and Brian Chippendale, said Scott Moran, artist and curator-at-large of OneWay Gallery.

While Fernandez has been a resident of Providence for around 10 years, he also has lived in Miami and Spain for periods, Fernandez said. “The art for me is like a (blessing) as an immigrant, a Latin person, an Afro-Cuban person, a black person,” he added, alluding to the fact that art allows him to meet a lot of people of different cultures. “We are making a family.”

Community reception

Currently, Fernandez’s paintings are being shown in multiple galleries throughout Rhode Island, including OneWay Gallery in Narragansett and Federal Hill’s Gallery Z and Skye Gallery, Fernandez said.

Steven Pennell, the coordinator of arts and culture at the University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence campus, has included Fernandez’s work in three exhibitions over the past year for its disparate references to early 20th century Spanish artists as well as African and aboriginal art, he said.

“He’s able to blend a lot of influences from colonial to indigenous, spiritual, santeria,” said Jonny Skye, owner of Skye Gallery.

“Because it has this little bit of abstraction and folk art involved, different people see it differently and respond differently to it,” Pennel added. “When you have an exhibit with Evans … it’s just a vibrant experience.”

“What he talks about is really compelling and relevant and modern,” Skye said.

“He’s also incredibly prolific … a living, breathing artist in a way that most of us will never know,” she added. “As a gallery owner, that’s the kind of person you want work with.”

Fernandez is slated to have a solo show at OneWay Gallery in Narragansett March through April.

 

Corrections: An earlier version of this article stated that Scott Moran said that while Evans Molina Fernandez has been a resident of Providence for around 10 years, he also has lived in Miami and Spain for periods. In fact, Fernandez said that while he has been a resident of Providence for around 10 years, he also has lived in Miami and Spain for periods. An earlier version of this article also stated that Steven Pennell said “He’s able to blend a lot of influences from colonial to indigenous, spiritual, santeria.” In fact, Jonny Skye said “He’s able to blend a lot of influences from colonial to indigenous, spiritual, santeria.” In addition, an earlier version of this article used the pronoun “he” to refer to Skye. In fact, Skye uses she/her/hers pronouns. The Herald regrets the errors.