New artist at Galerie Côté Créations

By Judith van Berkom – 

When he was a young lawyer in Cuba, Ernesto Alba always dreamt of travelling the world, finding out about people and places and also, getting to know himself. in 1999, he left his native country and moved to Spain, working as a photographer in Barcelona.

“I wanted to experience what is going on in the world. I didn’t want to create a base but wanted to learn many different languages and learn about the planet,” says Ernesto. From Barcelona, Ernesto travelled to London, UK for one year, Germany for a year, back to Barcelona and from there to Seattle, Toronto, and two years ago, to Westboro.

However, Ernesto discovered that there is not much of a market for photography in Canada. He visited and spoke to many gallery owners in Montreal and Quebec, and realized he needed to change the mode of his creative expression.

“I said to myself, I am going to paint. My girlfriend said, Do you know how to paint? No, I’m going to learn.”

Ernest Alba’s work is now on display at Galerie Côté Créations on Richmond Road in Westboro. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
Ernesto Alba’s work is now on display at Galerie Côté Créations on Richmond Road in Westboro. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

So, just one year ago, Ernesto taught himself how to paint with acrylics and created his first series, Genesis, now on display at the Galerie Côté Créations, an artist-run pop-up gallery on Richmond Road.

Ernesto is also a philosopher at heart, a reader of classics, someone who is deeply concerned about the world we live in.

“The last five years, we are not going forwards, we are going backwards,” he says. “The situation is getting worse on the whole planet. I’m upset with these things. If I keep painting abstract, I’m not going to express anything.

“You can express things in a direct way with figurative art. What I was trying to do with my photography is what I’m doing now with painting.”

Ernesto’s new series of figurative art, which he is currently working on full time out of his studio, uses oils instead of acrylic and has evolved out of his first series, Genesis. His last painting in the series is the only vertical piece and the only one to contain a human figure.

Genesis represents the movement toward the human form, and also the genesis of himself as a painter. Ernesto has given himself the next two to three years to paint full time, fully confident that as he commits to his art form it will continue to develop and improve.

“I will always paint,” Ernesto says. But, his back-up plan is to make a living working with computers.

From a lawyer in Cuba, photographer in Spain, Spanish teacher in Germany, cook in Seattle and now, an artist in Ottawa, Ernesto has a vision for the future, a message to convey, and the confidence to experiment with a variety of art forms.

View a selection of Ernesto Alba’s work at Galerie Côté Créations (98 Richmond Rd.) and on his website at


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