Lydia Rubio: Alphabet of Gestures
by Enrico Mario Santí

Enrico Mario Santí is the William T. Bryan Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Kentucky, a scholar of Latin American and Comparative Literature, and a frequent art critic. His latest book is Enduring Cuba, and Other Essays, forthcoming. Lydia Rubio (b. Havana) is an American multi-disciplinary artist who has had over two dozen solo shows, including at the NSU Art Museum, Ft. Lau- derdale, and the Bronx Museum. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous universities and private collectors, and as public art commissions at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and The Women’s Park, Miami.

For the past thirty-five years, the artist Lydia Rubio has worked with an overall premise: art is a mystery whose solution can be as desirable as it is elusive. No sooner do we begin unraveling one of its clues than it poses other mysteries: cutting off one branch makes a myriad of others sprout. While cutting and pruning, spectators must decode. In this, Rubio proceeds like a postmodern Gnostic, intent on pursuing dispersed clues of a hermetic secret and organizing themes according to a formal strategy of fragments, structured in series that spawn paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints—duly accompanied by diaries, maps, notes, even doodles. The series are ruled, in turn, by insights into a correspondence with conceptual codes that range from the letters of the alphabet to the four elements, cardinal points, and even gods of multicultural pantheons. Taken piecemeal, each form constitutes a clue for a plot whose meaning may well be lost. In the course of our reading, the plot ?s formal beauty snares us, seducing us into further speculation about questions that encompass Rubio’s personal obsessions: exile, nature, personal identity; or else, the links among image, objects, and language. [ READ FULL REVIEW]