The works of Fidelio Ponce de León consitute a landmark in the process of Cuban and Latin American painting. As a crucial figure of the early generation of Cuban modernist painters, Ponce's art remains one of the most original not only for its content but also for his ascetic use of color. Contrary to most expressionists, Ponce avoided their intense palette as a creative source of his creation, in order to express an interplay between his mystic beliefs and his other vernacular subjects. Ponce's iconography is dominated by the presence of the human figure under the chromatic intensity of a mysterious tonality of colors (Whites, ochres, grays, pale yellows, blues and roses) sorrounding them with ominous presages. In this sense Ponce departed from the expansive use of color that other Cuban masters have accustomed us to share in their works, exorcising another reality and thus preventing any "ethnic" interpretation of his art.
"Después del Ensayo" ("After the Rehearsal") painted by Ponce circa 1944 represents, however, a different approach to his usual subjects. In the first place, color plays a more important role here, thinning out his tragic outlook of life in favor of a more vivd imagery. Although all the basic elements of his art are present here (the bold brush strokes, the thick layers of painting, and his proverbial atmosphere of solitude), this painting renders a unique blend of Ponce's best artistic qualities with his firm roots in a tradition that goes back to El Greco. Painted probably as a request from a friend, "Depsues del Ensayo" emphasizes the creative intensity that permeated Cuban art during the decades of the 30s and 40s.
Of all the Cuban artists of that period, Ponce's sence of his art as a medium of communicating spriritual values was dominant. His quest for the "Absolute" made him the most important painter of religious themes in Cuba and one of the most important in Latin America. As such, his message was identified with the fervor transmitted by his canvases, even those without a specific religious subject. Ponce was always at the height of his art when he represented the human figure, as this painting so well demonstrates.
A. Barr, Jr., Modern Cuban Paintings, Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, New York, April 1944