ArtKristia Watkins

Carlos Quintana

ArtKristia Watkins
Carlos Quintana

As a method to cure the madness of the world around him, Cuban artist Carlos Quintana adopted drawing, tracing figures all around him, even on the walls of his childhood home (much to his mother’s chagrin). Because of this, he was able to understand his surroundings in a way that made sense to him, he said. His childhood language progressed to his current state, reflecting his perceptions on giant canvases with oil, turpentine, charcoal and even his own saliva.
 
He never completed his education at the university level, choosing instead to teach himself the art rather than follow the rigid rules that were enforced in his schooling. A moment that stands out as one of his proudest was when his art was being studied in the art history classes of the university, which was doubly important considering his lack of degree. Seeing other people mimic his works as they learned to paint was also extremely flattering; as the old adage coined by Charles Colton goes, “imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.”

Despite traveling to and living in many different countries as he practices his art, Quintana said that his heart belongs to his homeland, Cuba. He was born in the Vedado District of Havana on Nov. 29, 1966. The rich traditions and culture of the country are intrinsic both to his being and his art, the latter of which is merely an extension of himself in more tangible media. Along with his Caribbean roots, much of his work also follows Asian themes or motifs.

In 2008, Quintana represented his country with a large exhibition at the Beijing Olympic Games. Even without any direct relationship to the Asian continent, he said he had been painting monks, samurais and Buddhists long before his exhibit in China. “These influences [must] come to me from the stars,” he said. Recently, Quintana’s work was the subject of an exhibit at the National Arts Club in New York City titled “Images of a Place the Never Existed”

Regarding the event and his own relationship to art, he told the Flatiron Hot! News, “I understand art as a way of moderate and constant salvation, within the mystery that is life. True art, the one that endures, leaves permanent traces within each of us. Art, and painting in particular, is a daily savior for me; a physical exercise of the soul, of the senses, and of the body I inhabit.”