Caridad

Caridad Hernández Carlos is an elderly woman who has lived in the Campo Santo Street in the city of Camagüey for over sixty years. Known as Cachita by her friends, Caridad is a plastic artist, a graduate of the San Alejandro Academy in Havana. Facial deformity since early childhood, old dilapidated house with grey walls decorated with realistic paintings depicting suffering made her retire into her own shell.

In her imagination, Caridad keeps inventing stories related to love and dreamless passion, expressing the pain of her experiences and pushing it beyond the limit in her paintings. Nicolás Abrasnabi is a fictive character with whom she has a sentimental relationship that overwhelms her, provokes false joy and happiness that all of a sudden disappear. Caridad is a woman that by mixing hallucinations with her personal stories creates paintings with a figurative and conceptual force that deeply affects anyone who looks at them. The personal world of this woman is figurative, hurled from the corners of her extreme alienation and pain accumulated by vices, poverty and virtues.

In her paintings, Caridad uses materials such as tempera, acrylic paint, shoe paint, excrements, mud, blood. She paints on walls, canvases, cartons and wooden planks. Loneliness and abandonment overtake the bearable part of this woman’s life, the misery exceeds the believable and leaves a surreal trace. Each pictorial piece painted by a Caridad’s finger or brush is a bite that she gives to herself, a kind of anthropophagy that rips out the pain and oblivion.

Her obsession to paint rests in the necessity to express herself, it is the mutilation of a word, the impossibility to be listened to through her voice. A misfortune that has been rooted in the Cuban reality for long. The Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC), a government body that looks after the Cuban artists, facilitates her a monthly wage of 625 Cuban pesos that provides food for one person only for a fortnight. Apart from that, her life is marked by silence, indifference.

For Caridad, it is impossible to understand the real world outside of her brain. Imprisoned by the abandonment of her husband and son, inability to understand the logic of her surroundings, scarcity of almost everything, ideologization, missing values and rights, make Caridad an “obsolete” being in this ferocious Cuban context. Caridad is a kind of a timeless traveller that is on the border of the exterior but remains inside of her own personal and magical universe. The political reality of our country is void of any sense and comprehension in her point of view. Her day-to-day reality is composed of her ideas linked to her personal history and paintings.

Similarly to many other Cuban women, Caridad’s creative impulse has been restricted and suffocated by an invisible limit imposed by a brutal, schematic and apathetic reality, that has no future.