Wilay Méndez Paez is a contemporary artist based in Havana, Cuba. Sculpture, painting and poetry are the methods he uses to investigate, reflect and question the reality and the socio-historical context in which he lives. His artwork frequently moves between the boundaries of the sculptural and site-specific installation. The imagery that composes his work relies on aesthetic cues from the Afro-Cuban experience and a critical view of contemporary society’s successes and oversights.
Wilay creates his sculptural work from found materials - recovered, discarded and decomposed – including metal, wood, stone, jute, transistors, nylon and molten plastic, debris and chipped layers of paintings from the crumbling city walls. Metal is primary in his materials. Rust and impurities of discarded metal participate in the work as cartography of the concepts that underlie the visual. Wilay’s metal is seen returning to its natural form, as an organic material that corrodes, modifies and transforms itself over time. Thus, the action of time on his materials, already affected, gives the work itself new ways of being understood. This element injects a set of ideo-aesthetic characteristics that facilitate new ways of decoding the concepts of his work.
The expressiveness of his work and the symbolism of the chosen materials create a dialogue about time and the flow of life and death, a theme present in the religious and daily thought of African and Afro-Cuban cultures. Looking at life through the lens of his own history, identity and memory are Wilay’s primary goals as an artist. Around the world, the dialogue of the past and present are merging as we look towards the future. Wilay’s artwork provokes looking and understanding the world, its natural rhythms and its man-made crisis’ from the perspective of our fallible human nature.