Andrés Batista Valdés broke Contramaestre boundaries and challenges the future. His cartoon Van Gogh’s Ear was awarded in a national event.
On the occasion of being multi-awarded during the First National Salon of Graphic Humorism “Sonría Compay”(“Smile Guy”), promoted by the Provincial Center of Plastic Arts, we developed this conversation that shows an unprecedented personal humbleness, but at the same time a clear concept of who does not fear barriers and challenges schemes, as to shake those who are currently setting the standards in the difficult job of making laugh and think through humor.
Journalist: What did Andrés present in this National Salon that brought him successes in line with his artistic maturity?
Andrés: “The first thing I should say is that the presentations adjusted to the thinking coincidence with other consecrated humorists from Santiago de Cuba, Las Tunas, Havana and other provinces, in terms of the variety of styles. In my case, the spectrum of proposals has always been broad and to a certain extent international.
I express myself in my humorous work by caricaturing the same thing about an Eskimo, a Jihadist, of La Gran Piedra (“the Big Stone”) as about my homeland, which is actually a very comprehensive work.
But in this case, three humorists present in the Salon tried to give a popular vision, that there was a kind of connection, symbiosis, coincidence between the three. And in this sense we approach popular humour by making the effort to flee from the joke with a high conceptual level.
Q: What did participation and exchange in this Salon bring you in the artistic sense?
A: “The themes promoted by the Salon; with a very good curatorship by the way; it was of a general nature. In this context, I won the Prize awarded by the Fondo de Bienes Culturales de Santiago de Cuba with the work “Escuchando la Oreja de Van Gogh” (Listening to Van Gogh’s Ear) and the Grand Prize of the Salon”.
Q: And in general terms, what do you think this type of concert of humorists provided the plastic arts movement in Santiago de Cuba with?
A: “I think it was a very important moment and space. The cartoon is going through a moment in which it is very deteriorated. There are no spaces where the cartoonists show their work, or where the professionals of the caricature can talk openly about their work, even about other problems, or to show the caricature in full color.
There are very few publications that serve as a platform for this, among them, the magazine Bohemia; but in Santiago de Cuba no magazine we know of does so.
Indeed, the cartoon is not meant to be shown in halls, but rather for publishing, to accompany, support and show certain social phenomena from the perspective of the press.
But when these types of shows occur, they become important spaces for those of us who express ourselves artistically in this aspect of graphic humor.
On the other hand, I believe that the cartoonists’ guild is very fragmented, we hardly see each other and this occasion served to solve this problem.
However, in Santiago de Cuba there is a wide list of cartoonists of national significance.
Q: How should these results be used to promote the cartoon in Contramaestre?
A: It’s very complex… But I think that young creators can be called to serve as a source to start with an event in which they meet. I was doing a bulletin on the subject but I was left alone. It is really very complicated because the caricature is seen as something based only on the joke, on the costumary, but what it is about is that it has a conceptual sense without exaggerating otherwise it becomes a drawing. It is necessary for this art to have a great deal of meaning.
There is no school that teaches humor, or to become a caricaturist, those are inconveniences. And this is very complex because one has to be born with this talent.
Q: How do you think you can continue contributing from your condition of humorist and from your specific work?
A: “Well, in recent times, we’ve been working on the website of the radio station Radio Grito de Baire. There we have a permanent space. However, I consider what has been done so far to be insignificant. I would also like to resume my bulletin with the help of a few colleagues; that in which I was I worked on many things at the same time and even my wife worked on correcting the texts. But for example, I need a writer to organize a bulletin with a comic vision.
Q: Do you think cartoons can help solve some of social problems?
A: “I don’t think I’m responsible for solving the problems. Caricature is the language that a plastic artist has to express certain concerns. But I am convinced that the problems that currently exist in our society have to be solved by men.
But certainly yes. The cartoon can contribute because it uses the weapon of the image, which says more than a thousand words, and which can be appreciated in public spaces where those who suffer from the problems and even those who cause them participate and come together and then, from that point of view, it can help to move awareness. It can, but it’s still a very complex problem.