Zoé Valdés

Intense, though serene; interiors filled with splinters, fragments of statues which gravitate among mosaics, ancient wooden floors, gardens, the cracking of defiant staircases as the footstep palpitates in a sea of silence, great unfathomable windows. Calm and perennial, inventive creation reign without end, in the pictorial work of Andrea Carreño. A monumental work, in spite of her youth. A work which transcends its very ancestry towards a jungle blurred in mirrors, where the greenery of leaves and shadows of the majestic trunks of the Ceiba trees transform into ensembles of harmonious European forests, and into sweating geographies in open hands.

To enter a painting’s universe on tiptoe, it fascinates me; which is not an everyday occurrence. To enter in the work of Andrea Carreño does not come easily; her paintings are full of artistic secrecy, not only visual, literary and musical as well. From every space emanates a key to decipher the mystery, the poetic cosmos of Carreño, its hypnotic seduction; the key may be hidden beneath a melodious note, under an ancestral stroke or may be sculpted above the reading of the Latin American classics, because we are before a Borgesian or Donosian work, belonging to Jorge Luis Borges and to José Donoso, although I may add verses from that poem by Dulce María Loynaz: Last Days of a house (Últimos días de una casa).

I slip into the painting; in there, overflowing with other interiors which connect a living room belonging to a house in Chile with a Parisian garden, or with a bedroom which might be found in Havana or with a hallway in Camagüey. I glide over the floor tiles as if over a chessboard, I scale the wall tiles like a lizard, escaping towards the dense branches of the woodland; concealed, I transform into a Greek goddess, chiseled by a golden nail, above the tepid liquid, and whose substance is mother's milk, the delicious milk of memory, that point where memory is white, pearly, as if with nothing but a single, dark drop, the scent of coffee would tinge our mind with vivid landscapes, tearfully longed-for and greatly missed.

Andrea Carreño is possessed by an utter lyrical sense of space, and, yet, she is endowed with another sense, a sense of language, highly architectural in nature, Babelian, Jüngian of Ernst Jünger, which reveals the construction of dreams as languages oozing from labyrinths, learned and created from marble or tree bark harvested from cliffs, or perhaps from the embossed edges of furniture, floating heads, shelves or walls which, illuminated by the brushstroke, penetrate like draughts of sunlight into the most unusual interior she could possibly have imagined: that of the constant and perpetual evocation of dreams.

The daughter of the one of the greatest and most universal of Cuban painters, Mario Carreño, Andrea Carreño has come to learn - however – thanks to her own determined efforts, how to sow and make grow the seed passed down, precisely, by another father, the Zemi, the animist god/statue of the Taino, the aboriginal people of Cuba and then, from there, has grown and enriched herself through the natural mixing of race and culture – painful, as any such mixing tends to be - but also joyous, in that celebration of birth “here”, of which José Lezama Lima sang, and which the painter's father revered, in a work replete with desire, in a “there” even more everlasting.

This is the work of Andrea Carreño: a perpetual birth brimming with desire, a luminous and infinite labour of the shadow, whose child runs about and romps jubilant in that glimmering jungle of mirrors.


Zoé Valdés
Paris, December 2009.