Cuba: A Good Year for Visual Arts

Cuba: A Good Year for Visual Arts
Fecha de publicación: 
6 January 2023
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The Havana Biennial, in its fourteenth edition, became the most important visual arts gathering in Cuba. From January to the end of April took place, «Havana de la Bienal», and, «Return to the Future». An extensive program of exhibitions was coordinated, many guest projects were invited, workshops, as well as collaborative and debate spaces were added. As a continuation and culmination of the previous stages, the third experience came through the curatorial exercise, the ideas embodied in the theoretical platform where reference was aimed at the importance of those «imaginaries that predict the future from the experience of present», arranged in various exhibition centers: this period was characterized by the greatest presence of international guest artists. In addition to important exhibition spaces in the capital, such as the Wifredo Lam Center and the Linea Cultural Station, the Biennial reached several cities in the country: Pinar del Río, Holguín, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, and Matanzas. Among the many exhibitions by foreign artists during the Biennale, he highlighted "Music from an unknown source", by the famous German creator Sigmar Polke, at the Universal Art Building of the National Museum of Fine Arts; there were personal shows by creators from Mexico, Iran, and France, some in community settings. Creators from dozens of countries joined the Biennial. In summary, more than 600 artists participated in the event, in more than a hundred personal and collective exhibitions. And we must add the important theoretical program, which brought together specialists from various countries. The Biennial was a space of confluences, multidisciplinary, and integrating dissimilar poetics and trends.

The anniversaries associated with the National Hero José Martí were brought to mind with the collective exhibitions "Vengo del sol, al sol voy", and "En cuerpo y alma", by Mario Fabelo Estrada, at the Memorial dedicated to the Apostle in Plaza de la Revolución. The exhibition "Words, Image, and Possibility" made up of 70 revealing images of the relationship of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz with artists and intellectuals from Cuba and the world. Also "Che photographer, an artist called Guevara", by Ernesto Guevara de la Serna. Commemorating the October Crisis, the photographic exhibition "October in memory" was presented.

In the context of the 60th anniversary of the Havana Experimental Graphics Workshop, a special program was carried out during the year, which included several exhibitions and spaces for creative realization.

Regarding the 60 years of the artistic Education system, several exhibitions were inaugurated. "A priori" was an outstanding exhibit, with a list of artists who share their creative process with teaching work. "Anatomy Lesson" was presented at Galería Habana. The group show "ClassRoom V" was presented at the Center for the Development of Visual Arts, a pedagogical artistic project.

At the national headquarters of the University Student Federation, the collective graphic humor “Dale like” was displayed.

2022 marked the 120th anniversary of Wifredo Lam’s birth. The Contemporary Art Center that bears the name of the great artist hosted the theoretical event dedicated to the most universal of Cuban painters. The National Museum of Fine Arts presented the exhibition "Lam indivisible", which brings together emblematic works and others less seen by the creator.

Other significant exhibitions stood out: in the 23 y 12 gallery, "Marcelo Pogolotti: the cycles of History", in homage to the artist's 120th birthday; "Aforo", by Manuel López Oliva, in Collage Habana; "A la vuelta de los 40", a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the creation of Acacia; «Nico. Imagination of the poster”, a retrospective on the work of the outstanding Cuban designer Antonio Pérez González, at the National Museum of Fine Arts; "Antonia on paper", devoted to the creation on paper by Antonia Eiriz; "Eloquence of silence", which brought together sculptures in the National Museum of Fine Arts; «From the real museum to the imagined museum», also in that institution; and "Where I exist in peace, I live", at the Center for the Development of Visual Arts. "Vida" by May Reguera was also presented there. At Wifredo Lam Center, "The Mystery of the Echo" by Nelson Villalobos was opened. Villa Manuela hosted «Italian Portraits», by Sosabravo, and «El caos y los hijos de la bestia», by Ángel Ramírez. José Ángel Toirac presented "Stolen Jewels" at La Acacia. Several renowned artists exhibited in galleries in other cities in the country.

In Fine Arts, the exhibitions of the Lesbia Vent Dumois and Rafael Zarza National Plastic Arts Awards were kept on display.

The First Saloon of Abstract Art took place at the Experimental Center of Plastic Arts in Havana. The Photographic meeting of November hosted an extensive program of exhibitions and theoretical spaces. The personal exhibition of the Swiss Marcel Doussé, “The other side of the turn”, stood out. In the Fototeca building, the exhibition "Paterna, the wall of Spain" was also exhibited during 2022.

Among the books presented during the stage, we must highlight the catalogs of artist Alfredo Sosabravo, National Prize for Plastic Arts, dedicated to works on paper and paint; the one dedicated to Lesbia Vent Dumois, also a National Plastic Arts Awardee; Cuban art, the Ascending Spiral, by curator and critic Roberto Cobas Amate; On Art in Cuba: Teaching, Sculpture, Drawing, 1900-1930, by Dr. Llilian Llanes; and Antonio Miró and Cuba. Blurring borders, by art historian Martha E. Laguna Enrique. An edition of Artecubano Magazine was also presented, dedicated to the 2020 National Prize for Plastic Arts, Rafael Zarza.

Several artists exhibited abroad. The Cuban Pavilion of the Venice Biennale inaugurated the exhibition "TERRA IGNOTA (proposals for a new world)", with the participation of Cuban artists Alexis Leiva Machado (Kcho) and Rafael Villares Orellana along with the Italian Giuseppe Stampone as a guest. Ernesto García Peña presented the anthology «The origin. Paintings and Drawings”, in Mérida, Mexico. The collective exhibition «Cuban engraving», in Galicia, Spain. In the VI edition of the international engraving event Alma Gráfica, works by 25 Cuban artists were presented. At the Taller Boricua de Grabado, New York, United States, the collective exhibition of Cuban engraving “Without Border” was presented; in Berlin, the collective exhibition «Infinite Light», with Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco), José Antonio Rodríguez Fúster, Zaida del Río, and Arián Irsula. Zaida del Río presented "Spring in Lucerne" in Switzerland.

This 2022, the Guy Pérez Cisneros Curatorship and Criticism Awards were given, as well as the Creation Scholarships of the Visual Arts Development Center.

The 2021 National Plastic Arts Award ceremony for the prominent visual artist Alberto Lescay Merencio took place at the Fine Arts Museum Theater. The painter and teacher Flora Fong García ran off with the 2022 National Prize for Plastic Arts, in attention to her many contributions to the nation's pictorial heritage.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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