LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – Although Miguel Loredo has been painting all his life, it was not until 2002 that he decided to show his works in a broader context. In an exhibition at the Carol LaPlante Gallery in New York, he presented 30 oil paintings on canvas to commemorate the first anniversary of the September 11th tragedy. Since then, Miguel has worked non-stop to find a way to express the inner contradiction and opposite tensions in the universe and life. The outcome is a world always beyond our human reach, a world in which unity, austerity, simplicity and economy of means prevail.
Miguel, who was born in Havana in 1938, is a self-taught painter. He was still a teenager when he was befriended by some of the most well known Cuban painters such as Portocarrero, Milian and Mijares. Rolando Lopez-Dirube became his tutor and invited him to work in his studio.
During the years of his theological formation in Spain from 1960 to 1964, he met Lucio Munoz in his atelier in Madrid and at work in northern Spain. He was also acquainted with the works of Chillida and Oteiza. At that point, he started showing the roughness of the Basque landscape surrounding him and a very peculiar language connected with abstract informalism.
Miguel was ordained to the priesthood on July 19, 1964, in Spain. In August of 1964, he returned to Cuba and assumed his pastoral work at the famous Iglesia de San Francisco in Havana, working especially with youth and giving courses in Sacred Scripture. Shortly after his return to Cuba, he was sentenced to 15 years as a political prisoner, of which he served 10 years. During those years in prison, Miguel painted on scraps of paper and on the back of the few letters he was allowed to receive. The media he used were coffee, iodine and dirt or ashes fixed with egg whites as a varnish. Some of his paintings of this period have been shown in Miami alongside the works of other political prisoners such as the late Julio Hernandez Rojo.
Forced to leave Cuba in 1984, Miguel went to Rome and produced an essay about the links between experience and language. He became acquainted firsthand with the works of the great masters in several European countries.
In 1987, he started his activities at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. He moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he painted the “Like Trees” series and also published “Despues del Silencio” (memoirs) “De la Necesidad y del Amor” (poetry) and “Los Subitos Quebrantos” (poetry).
Since 1991, Miguel has lived at St. Francis Church on West 31st Street in New York City and published “Uno” (poetry), showed his paintings in group exhibitions and sent 12 of his works to Miami to an auction to help the people in need in Cuba.
“To paint is for me to choose a way to fix a personal vision of reality on a flat surface. The suggestion of other dimensions is part of the outcome obtained and is empowered to embody the many areas of the spirit as well as of the memory and of the prophecy,” said Miguel.
He continued, “I prepare surfaces to receive the trip of the light from dawn to dusk. In this changing light I make images ready to transmit their inner and formal sense and to receive the personal world of the viewer. In this changing light, forms dissolve, light becomes line and light flies.”
“To me there is not a great difference between figurative and abstract painting. I always paint what I see. But I see mostly the beauty of the forms in everything as a springboard to create a set of new significant and beautiful objects representing themselves,” Miguel explained.
“I admire many painters. Leonardo’s drawings, Wilfredo Lam’s dynamics, the sensual and spiritual message of Paul Gauguin, the pure and inviting color of Joseph Marioni. I am a painter of brush and hand: a painter of visual memories. But I pay attention to the artists of the camera and to any form of new art. I am always immersed in a learning experience. For me to paint is to be involved in a perpetual challenge,” said Miguel.
Twelve of Miguel’s oil paintings will be exhibited at the Yates Gallery in the J. Spencer and Patricia Standish Library at Siena College. The exhibition, titled “The Reality of Abstraction,” will run until Sept. 30. A reception will be held at 4 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the gallery.