Cuban Art in the circus capital
Aldo Menendez/1 June, 2016
(…) Since November 6, 2015, the Selby Gallery took in part of one of the most important repertoires of Cuban art, the Jorge Reynardus Collection, belonging to this habanero who arrived in the United States when the decade of the 1960s had just begun and, as time ran by, he became a successful publicist in New York. Today, retired from business, Reynardus lives in one of the several keys which draw a second coast outline on the surrounding area of beaches, facing downtown Sarasota, above the Gulf of Mexico.
The curator of this exhibition has been the outstanding and experienced art critic Mark Ormond, who patiently chose a group of first line works from the Collection, demonstrating some of the main thematic aspects of Cuban visual arts (social and political criticism, urban environments, nostalgia, Afro-Cuban elements, certain human passions, and so on) and equally in the field of affiliations and formal assimilations, in which the extensions of photographic realism (Rogelio López Marín, Gory, Gustavo Acosta and Ofill Echevarría) to entirely conceptual pieces (Consuelo Castañeda, Marta María Pérez, Aldito Menéndez, Juan-Si González, Elsa Mora, and so on) appear.
The exhibition incorporates, on another hand, contributions coming from Neo Pop (Ciro Quintana, Ivonne Ferrer, Néstor Arenas…) and from Neo Expressionism (Humberto Castro, Tomás Esson…) Among the paths exemplified in this sense, a marked naïf trend draws attention to itself, a conception which merges primitivism with Pop (Israel León, Pepe Herrera, Ana Albertina, Adriano Buergo, Carlos Luna and so on).
It is essential to highlight two pieces of recent production signed by two classics of the Avant-garde and of the 1950s: The Nest (2004) by Agustín Fernández and Pintura Negra (Black Paint, 1994) by Guido Llinás. It is also worthwhile to mention the sculpture Ícaro (Icarus) by the recently deceased Gay García, and celebrate a trio of the eighties: Galaxia Espiral (Spiral Galaxia) in stainless steel by Carlos González, Helical Work no. 1, in steel and wood by Armando Guiller and Artesanía del Sur (Craftwork of the South), wood carving by Alejandro Aguilera.
In a so solid collection numerous works are representative of the trends with which their authors reached acknowledgement and a personal seal they unalterably keep—Pepe Franco, Segundo Planes, Carlos Estévez, among others. Even when divorced from what he before did, I believe it important to mention Armando Mariño’s piece, linked to a type of experimental realism that does not entirely abandon the photographic influence.
It is difficult to overlook the quality of works—in my opinion predestined to end up in a museum—as strong of Vititi Mensu (2006) by José Bedia; Help, a silk-screen by Carlos Cárdenas printed in 1994, and Linaje Forming Light (2003) by Arturo Cuenca. I discover an equivalent quality in the photos Espejo Barroco (Baroque Mirror, 1988) by Mario Algaze and In Camera no. 9 (2001) by Luis Mallo. (…)
Launching of the book: Artists in Purgatory
Artists in Purgatory narrates a period that starts after 1990 with the individual and collective exodus of hundreds of Cuban artists who left the island of Cuba to live abroad. While this is not the exclusive province of the generation of the 1980s, the story touches upon the protagonists from 1975 on and even past the 1990s.
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