The landscape of Cuba is more than its identity. It is its pride. It is imprinted with the blue of the sea and the sky, the bloody ochre of the land, and the green of the woodland and fields in perpetual summer. It protects its vision of a country that defends itself from modern degradation and preserves the tender memory of its horizon. It is not the wild jungle or the burning hot desert, it is more the soft meadows, the sedate clear river, and the quietly vegetated hills that create this diverse, serene palette. That is why it is not unusual to see the magic of its landscape captured in the visual arts. The value lies in the contrasts.
When I first met Hanoi Martínez León 7 years ago, and discovered his paintings, I was sure he was not just another of the many painters who use landscape as a form of expression. His visual inspiration may have come from prints in important old Russian catalogues of the 80s, that were of very good quality, and which some still keep in their private collections. From all the prints he saw, he chose the landscapes, which were very well represented in both the Russian and Cuban cultures. While the Russian paintings are superb, they have nothing to do with Cuban, and that is where Hanoi's talent lies. Because the perfection of the Russian academy was only portrayed to him in images, he worked hard to discover Cuba's light - what is and what is not the tropics, what is and what is not insularity - and to search his imagination for the fragments of reality that he would illustrate on his canvas.
These fragments, stored in his imagination, come together like a puzzle. Using one of the most difficult painting techniques, this artist brings them to the canvas, creating his own garden. Spatula in hand, Hanoi attacks the canvas rectangle. It has neither choice, nor complaints about being illustrated. He then uses a paintbrush to clarify his intentions and arrives at the most intricate details, his meticulousness forever reaching for mastery. This artist has no false pretences, only desire and curiosity. This is why he, at such a young age, could arrive at a place that others could only reach after many years of advanced study - the place where the light of Cuba is kept. One day, someone suggested that the work was done from photographs and I remember seeing Hanoi's ironic smile. Everything comes from inside him: the light, the composition, the texture, the rhythm - all come from his experiences and aspirations. Nothing exists in nature, or maybe it does- Through Hanoi it gains existence.
His work is above all, filled with natural vegetation. However, despite the absence of animal life, it is not a static work. Life vibrates in each tone, multiplies and imposes itself in the substance of the composition; it is the image of the place where the question present in each work of art falls from its own weight. For this young, extremely meticulous painter, refusing to make concessions to the banal or the easy creates great demands on him every day. He strives always, with balance, for perfection. In each work, he creates a peaceful space, maybe the place that we all deserve.
Without a doubt, it is Hanoi who is one of the most solid proponents of landscape paintings among young artists that live in the city. He is a regular supporter of collective exhibitions and art shows with landscapes, which are held in Havana, and he has also distinguished himself as one of the artists who collaborate on community projects. Only someone with this special sensitivity for life, and for the people around him, could paint the countenance of everyone’s peace from his own sensitivity.