Last month, Haitian-American-Spanish street artist Alejandro Hugo Dorda Mevs Aka Axel Void completed a small-scale mural in Havana, Cuba. In a press release for the project, the artist explains, “this image is based on a still from a short film I am working on. The film is based on a family living in the neighborhood of San Isidro, in Habana, Cuba. The area is a poor but a very lively place, where kids play endlessly in the streets and all the house doors are open to let the air and conversation flow in.”

Axel Void’s latest foray into film documents a neighborhood in flux. In October 2018, Lonely Planet reported that “the once industrial town [of San Isidro] is steadily becoming a burgeoning stronghold of Cuban contemporary art – within five or so walkable blocks visitors will find vivid murals and art galleries amid former warehouses.”

In San Isidro, Axel Void recounts that, “I had the pleasure of bumping in to the family of Yanisley Kessel. Mother of four and owner of the house where she lives with her kids, husband, brother and grandmother. I had the pleasure of spending nine days filming and sharing time closely with them. Despite the conditions, one can quickly tell how united this family is and how rich in human interaction and affectionate they are. Somehow it felt like how a real family could feel. The wall is painted directly in front of their house door, where they always sit to chat and where I met them. It portrays Yanisley holding her daughter Yazemin.”

The mural is small but powerful. Depicted in a circular frame, it shows the figures of Yanisley and Yazemin  wrapped in a tender embrace, clothed in shadows. The light penetrates sharply to illuminate Yazemin’s stained white shirt, and her face in profile as her mother nuzzles into her cheek. The viewer gets the sense that Axel Void is actually shining a light on their intimate mother-child bond. The artist himself states that, “this is a tribute to every day life and a reflection on scarcity and a reevaluation on values.”

Urban Nation notes that Axel Void’s work “processes his multicultural roots and upbringing as well as his experiences from traveling” in a manner that is “often shocking and dark.” The museum’s website continues to explain that “while many of [his] creations are equally dark in their very essence, sometimes even shocking, he does try to add fragments of everyday beauty that he finds in mundane moments.”

With this recent work in Cuba, we see Axel Void returning to that place of simple beauty, and appreciation for tiny moments that might go otherwise unnoticed. While details on his documentary have yet to be released, it will be interesting to see how this perspective translates into film. In the meantime, residents and visitors of San Isidro can find a piece of the neighborhood’s spirit in this mural. For this, the artist gives a “special thanks to Alexander, Moises, Yanisley, Juan Carlos, Yesinai, Teresa, Gabriela and Osmel for their friendship and hospitality. And to Carlos for organizing and making this mural happen.”


Axel Void: web | facebook | instagram

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