Alfonso Quiñones (elCaribe) reviews the work of Dominican artist Yubo (whose real name is Yubogil Fernández).
Back then, Yubo was known as Yubogil Fernández, an eight-year-old girl from a low-income neighborhood in the capital, sponsored by class in a wealthy school in Providence, Rhode Island. Nevertheless, she was a girl rich in talent and fantasy. “Once the students came to meet me and brought me many gifts. They sent me letters every month and I sent them letters. About four years ago, I decided to seek them out. I had already won short film awards, I was doing very well financially, and I always felt grateful to those people, so I decided to look for them,” the young artist told elCaribe.
She met for the first time Mrs. Anderson, the teacher of the children who helped her, who was already elderly. “I met her and offered talks to the children attending the school now. I talked to them about how good it is to give and help children who are not as privileged as they are.” That was not only exciting, but also eye-opening. Mrs Anderson told her that in the past, instead of letters, Yubo had sent them drawings. “At that time, I was not yet painting.”
However, she became convinced that her primary talent was in the visual arts, something she did in New York (“But that’s another story,” she says). She realized that when she found herself in moments of restlessness and despair, she took to painting. “I came to discover that during the pandemic.” In the midst of the economic crisis, some friends got married, “what can I give them?”, she said to herself. And she painted a work for them that was a scandal. Someone at the wedding asked her for a painting that she then sold for six thousand dollars.
Critic Jerry Saltz, from the United States, liked one of her paintings posted on Instagram, and he wanted to see more of her works. “I see a lot of postwar abstract expressionism,” he told her. That critique changed her life. From there, she began to do what came from within her, her own vision of the universe. “I began to do more instinctive, more intuitive pieces; of course, with some knowledge, because I had studied Advertising at APEC and Altos de Chavón. I have, well, solid concepts about colors, which people who see my work say is what I handle the best.”
“If I feel bad when start to paint, I don’t even set down a stroke. I begin to meditate. I don’t drink when I paint, not even one drink. It’s not because of moral views, it’s just that it doesn’t work for me,” she explains. “I don’t paint inspired by drama or nostalgia,” she says. “I paint from a place of peace, of joy, joy, of plenitude.”
“During the process I may feel some nostalgia, for example when I was painting the Virgin (of Altagracia), my mother came into my mind, and I started crying. And everyone who knows her and has seen her painting says, ‘But that virgin has your mother’s eyes!’ And I look at her and say ‘it’s true.’ Mami is alive, but she has Alzheimer’s. She lives here with me. Things come out of me in the process, but that’s not the motivation,” she confesses.
Yubo has already exhibited in Spain, she has had two exhibitions in the country; and has exhibited in the United States. But she is at her best moment. Her body of work is growing. Her work sells. People comment on it. Here [in the Dominican Republic] and beyond. So much so that the Russian Children’s Fund has extended an invitation to exhibit next year in Moscow. Someone sent images of her works to writer Dmitri Lijanov and they are already preparing her individual exhibition in the Russian capital.
Living in Jamaca de Dios, a very exclusive refuge in the mountains of Jarabacoa, allows the muses to reach her before they get into town, and for the paragliders to come face to face with her canvases.
Her creative concerns have led her to cinema. In fact, I met her at the Cannes Festival a few years ago, when she showed several projects that she later turned into other stories, in which she has been an actor, but she has also directed, and she is the owner of a very interesting script entitled Cara sucia [Dirty Face].
Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see https://www.elcaribe.com.do/gente/a-y-e/yubo-la-mujer-que-pinta-en-la-jamaca-de-dios/