Montecristi light, shape and color

That Rafael Delmonte’s collection, just a sample of his immense treasure, reaches us is a reason to celebrate the love of art that continues to be for the joy of all.

If Don Pedro Mir wanted to relate the ruggedness of our land and if the elusive landscape that rises in front of the oceanic coast ever lost its geographical meaning, Gaston Fernando Deligne would undoubtedly have marked here the territoriality of the “botado”[1].

Behind the road, before oblivion dips into the Atlantic, is Montecristi[2], a vastness that sometimes dispenses with the human, containing itself before strangers came to discover what was already discovered. It was in 1533 when some Spanish farmers settled there and immediately cultural manifestations were expressed, since patron saint festivities have been recorded since October 7, 1533, in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary[3]. Depopulated during the “devastations of Osorio” in 1606[4], it was repopulated on April 25, 1879, as a Marine District, date on which it also changed its veneration, establishing San Fernando de Montecristi as its patron saint.

To come and go… to stay forever. Its privileged location would serve as a commercial bridge between the French and the Spanish during part of the eighteenth century, until it became a port of great activity, especially for the export of honey, wood and tobacco, before the ghost, which in rhapsodies of crisis takes its people, would once again strike it as a result of the interconnection of the northern provinces of the Republic with a railroad at the end of the nineteenth century, causing it to lose its preeminence.

History would repeat itself during the twentieth century, with the impulses of projects that made hopes germinate in its people, peaks of economic abundance and declines with their consequent exodus.

Montecristi, Monte Cristi, Monte Christi, Monte Cristy. Porous as its borders is the rightness of its name. The spelling of this toponym is of evident preference Montecristi, although some official instances use the formerly preferred spelling Monte Cristi (Monte Christi in the spelling of the time), which means “mount of Christ”, a name that, according to Fray Bartolomé de las Casas in his Historia de las Indias, was given by Christopher Columbus, on January 4, 1493, to the mountain located near the present city[5].

This town, marked in history by consensus and dialogue, eternalizes the old mansion[6] where General Máximo Gómez received the visit of the apostle of Cuban freedom, José Martí, signing the “Manifiesto de Montecristi”[7], on March 25, 1895.

An extraordinary demonstration of love for the freedom of the Dominicans, since long before Gómez had received a letter from the Cuban, signed in Santiago de los Caballeros on September 13, 1892, in which he mentions what would become an omen: “I have no other remuneration to offer you than the pleasure of sacrifice and the probable ingratitude of men”.

Thus its people, reaffirming history with their commitment, have served the country in all areas. In the sciences, as well as in sports, in politics, with examples such as Manolo Tavárez Justo, as well as in popular music, with an extraordinary presence in all the native musical genres, especially bachata…. Thus, poetry, lyrics and plastic arts have been marked by the sun that sets in the spectacle that every sunset gives to the firmament, with the piano that in the memory hangs a Manuel Rueda, chaser of Mackandal, guided by such diffuse graphics as its origin, traced by Ada Balcácer in the illustrations of her poetry book.

For years Rafael Delmonte, a santiaguero who like few others has known how to love and respect art, has treasured in the walls of his residence, as well as in his noble soul, an important collection of works of art.

His knowledge of the history of the Dominican plastic arts and his constant participation in international scenarios where the works of Dominican artists are put in value, make him worthy of recognition, because with his work he has been able to appraise, bet in cases of new artists, pieces of great importance for the understanding of the trajectory and evolution of the national plastic arts.

It is the best of the moments for a series of thirty-five works, selected with the criterion of showing the vibrant force of art in consecrated masters and in voices that are open to the consolidation of the names of these thirty-one selected artists, to go out to see the immense coast of the north from its collection.

The opening of a new cultural space like this center located in Montecristi combines impressions, but also opportunities. It is not only a bet on the promotion of the arts, which is so lacking in the country, but it is also a daring bet on the consolidation of a museum alternative in an area that is waiting, like any other dock, to be rediscovered once again.

Delmonte has split and wanted to give priority to paintings in different languages, expressions and periods that give a historical-evolutionary character to the selected set.

We are not sinning if we affirm that rarely Dominican art has come to dialogue on an equal footing with the magnificence of geography.

It is in Montecristi, with the light that becomes a poem in a duel of blues with the sea, with the shape turned into memory and stamped as Morro or the time that loses meaning waiting for a sunset that does not come without being marked by the Duarte Park Clock.Monte Cristi Coastline

These works, these artists and those who discover the mystery behind these canvases know it. For this there is Hilario Olivo (1951), presented with his impeccable line and Caribbean color, in contours and geometric shapes where he builds a song of human form; José Cestero (1937), with his intimate architectures and his own language, a master of whom Delmonte is a passionate follower; Antonio Guadalupe (1941), with his searches and encounters with the thought of color; José Perdomo, with vegetation and nature that are impregnated until they end in line; Juan Bravo (1961), an outstanding member of the generation of the eighties whose work makes the eye concentrate to communicate the astuteness of color. José Sejo (1960), painter of the eighties generation who is also a restorer, ceramist and silkscreen printer, with an impeccable workmanship in his works; Julio Susana (1937), painter and sculptor, his works are universes of human forms and academicist manufacture in diverse languages that he explores throughout a fruitful career; Ada Balcácer (1930) our consecrated painter, owner of a particular world where our origin reaches universal dimensions; Alberto Ulloa (1950) painter of characters with distinctive features, harmonious and of transcendent originality in the mixture of his palette; Guillo Pérez (1926-2014) master that constitutes a reference for the Dominican plastic arts; Mario Grullón (1918-1996) master from Santiago, fundamental part of the Santiago school; Jacinto Domínguez, master par excellence of cubism from the Caribbean, an autonomous personality of his own expressions and reinvention of the identity of his city.

If we are looking for the identity of the masters in the plastic arts, the discourse of Danilo de los Santos (Danicel, 1942-2018), who appears in this exhibition with a work of great dimension in which the marolas float their blackness in open flight towards freedom, with their impeccable prints, with their feminine ingenuity and their free silhouettes; another master like Silvano Lora (1931-2003) constitutes in historical the sample that also includes the immense Yoryi Morel (1906-1979), master par excellence of our costumbrismo, of the identity of a Santiago that became universal in his works, eternalizing prints and characters in a work of simply universal dimension.

Luichy Martínez Richiez (1928-2005), promoter of ceramics, sculptor and creator of his female figures that highlight the body and femininity as a discursive base, sometimes full of references and others in the splendor of their natural beauty; Cuquito Peña (1946-2013), one of the most portentous artists of the Santiago school, with the basic references of the everyday but dimensioning from futuristic cubism, being a student of the Cibao impressionism of Bautista Gómez and Arturo Grullón, his works dialogue with other masters such as Jacinto Domínguez, Federico Izquierdo and Yoryi Morel.

The selection also includes José Morillo (1975), a refreshing naif who goes from the urban to the rural, combining the elemental with the complex of our identity; Juan Medina (1948), in his incessant journey from the traditional to the modern, in his particular textures; Alonso Cuevas, one of the consecrated and who bursts into the exhibition for the strength of his drawing and the purity of his light; Victor Chevalier, from the Santiago school, as well as Ubaldo Dominguez, both with similar dialogues in the search for the strengths given by the anecdotal and the print as references.

Radhamés Mejía (1960) painter and sculptor with a long career in France from where he has reinterpreted the Caribbean, especially the search for expressive and serene faces, earth-colored but with their own identity; Cristián Tiburcio (1968) ceramist, sculptor and muralist, stands out for a language full of symbols and a particular identity in all his works; Elvis Avilés (1964-2022) starting from orange and yellowish tones, knew how to make the transition from hyperrealism to an evocative abstraction of figurations, always fluid; Fabio Domínguez (1963) owner of a vision of a tropic that travels inland, to be surprised by palm trees and suns in hurricane evocations of rhythms and rituals; Rafael Rodríguez, with his clean scenarios and figurations in a dialogue of contrasts; Jesús Desangles (1961) painter, engraver and teacher, who makes of his complex compositions a discourse of color erected based on the power of the line. Freddy Javier (1946) painter, muralist and teacher with a wide trajectory of individual works and awards throughout his career; Kuma (Ignacio Rincón Valverde, 1951) draftsman, engraver and painter, founder of Grupo 6 and member of the diaspora of creators established in New York in the 1970s.

And the host, the montecristeño Plutarco Andújar (1930-1995) one of the great Dominican painters, a graduate of the National School of Fine Arts and the San Fernando Academy in Madrid, Spain. Marked by a pilgrimage that took him from Europe to the United States, his drawings, watercolors and paintings (both portraits and seascapes) place him among the reference names not only of his generation but also of the Dominican visual identity.

Chance placed Leonardo Batista, a true painter of the people, who came to give the anecdotal and romantic touch with the visions of the Clock, that European intruder that has become the identity of this land.

This collective exhibition has a transcendental importance in the cultural life of Montecristi, because it is the first time that a selection of masters and emerging artists is presented in this center that opens its doors, with the wisdom to show where we have come from, the tradition of various schools, from various localities that have come to stop here in the port where for years has been waiting for the glorious arrival of the visual arts in this dimension.

Each artist, each work and the exhibition space propose a dialogue that should never end.

That Rafael Delmonte’s collection, just a sample of his immense treasure, reaches us is a reason to celebrate the love of art that continues to be for the joy of all.

“Montecristi: light, form and color”, evokes the permanence, preeminence and splendor of a national art with its own codes, with particular characteristics and successes that make it the pride of the nation and the country’s brand.

[1] References to the poems “Hay un país en el mundo” by the national poet Pedro Mir and “En el botado” by the Dominican poet Gastón Fernando Deligne.

[2] According to the norms of the Academy of the Spanish Language, the forms united or separated, Monte Cristi or Montecristi, of the name of this city, municipality and province of the Dominican Republic are admissible.

[3] Dominican Historical Biographical Dictionary.

[4] Available online, accessed on 11/13/2022: https://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/cultura/areas/archivos/mc/archivos/agi/portada.html.

[5] Idem.

[6] Law 241 that declares the province of Monte Cristi a tourist zone and declares the house where the manifesto of Máximo Gómez and José Martí was signed a historical monument.

[7] Official document of the Cuban Revolutionary Party in which José Martí’s ideas for organizing the Cuban war of independence of 1895 are exposed. It was signed by José Martí and Máximo Gómez.

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