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Diversities — Six Artists from Cuba
October 14 - November 8
Juan Carlos Alom
Belkis Ayon
Carlos Estevez
Jose Manuel Fors
Ibrahim Miranda
Fernando Rodriquez

What about the art of Cuba? How does life on an island under a socialist regime affect artistic expression? Has the rigid U.S. embargo of more than 40 years, intensified Cuba’s isolation from the rest of the artistic world? The circumstances that provoke these questions might well have had a suffocating affect on the artistic production of Cuba today, but not so. It seems that these conditions have instead served as impetus for extraordinary exploration.

The artists in this exhibition, with one exception (Fors, b. 1956) were born after Castro’s Revolution of 1959. As members of a new artistic generation, they share no pre-Revolutionary memories. They draw their inspiration from complex and sophisticated postmodern influences. All received training in the state supported art academies of Cuba and all have exhibited internationally. Although grounded in the classical study of art, these young artists are the progeny of the computer age and MTV. They have been saturated with North American culture and with the mass media images of Hollywood. Despite the governmental rigmarole involved, professional artists are given special status in Cuba and are awarded the luxury of traveling, exhibiting, teaching or studying in major centers of art throughout the world. This exposure has broadened and informed their individual artistic visions.

Diverse in media, approach and subject matter, each of the artists in this exhibition eloquently demonstrates the fact that Cuba is neither isolationist nor suffocating to the creative spirit of its people. El Camino College is grateful to Couturier Gallery and Iturralde Gallery for making this exhibition possible.

-SUSANNA MEIERS
Curator El Camino College Art Gallery

 
JUAN CARLOS ALOM

 

Intimate stages for symbolic action, Juan Carlos Alom’s black and white photographs (gelatin silver prints) function as windows into a spiritual and abstract dimension. Posing objects/subjects in opposition — man/fish; flesh/metal; a body dissolving in clay, Alom fashions a theatre of transcendence where metamorphic transition is central. (Not all of these are present in this exhibit)

Dios Esta en Las Manos del Hombre
God is in the Hands of Man

gelatin silver print

  Untitled
gelatin silver print
 

BELKIS AYON

Belkis Ayon explores an enigmatic spiritual world in her dense colographic works. Much of her imagery is taken from the Abakua, an all male Afro-Cuban secret society established in the 1830's and still active in Cuba today. Using the Abakuan myths as a basis, Ayon constructed a symbolic visual language that became progressively darker over time, as if foreshadowing her own death at the age of 32 in 1999.  


Mi Vernicle, O Si Note Olivodo
My Imprint Or So I Don't Forget

colograph

La Cena
The Dinner

colograph
 
 

CARLOS ESTEVEZ


Vive Como Quieras
Live As You Like

watercolor on paper

 

With acrobatic finesse Carlos Estevez traverses the realms of both the physical and metaphysica, leaving traces of his journey in delicate watercolor and pencil drawings. In his witty allegories, the human figure mingles with machine, animal and the cosmos. In Estevez’s images one senses the presence of a medieval alchemist or the hand of an ancient astronomer, mapping the creatures of the night sky.

 

 


El Inexplicable Mundo del Deseo
The Inexplicable World of Desire

watercolor on canson paper
  Mutaciones de la Conciencia
Mutations of the Conscience

watercolor pastel graphite
 

JOSE MANUEL FORS

Photocopies from the archives of his botanist grandfather, current photos and family memorabilia, postcards, letters and documents are the raw material of the constructions by Jose Manuel Fors. In a rich layering of materials and memory, Fors articulates his view of nature’s macro system and of the similarly complex structure of the human community.  

Los Retratos II (Portraits)
The Inexplicable World of Dosirs

toned gelatin silver print,mixed media

Los Retratos II (Detail)
The Inexplicable World of Dosirs

toned gelatin silver print,mixed media

 

 
IBRAHIM MIRANDA
 

The fact that Cuba is an island triggers a myriad of metaphors: autonomy, emigration, flight and isolation. Miranda’s maps of Cuba explore all of these associations. By using the map as a constant while varying the medium and style, from collage and woodblock prints to cubrecamas (quilt tops), Ibrahim Miranda ponders questions of cultural and socio-psychological nature.

Botello y Perro
Bottle and Dog

fabric and thread(quilt top)

  Lagrimas Negras
Black Tears

fabric and thread(quilt top)
 
FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ
By creating a fictional character. Francisco de Ia Cal, a humble and blind Cuban worker, Fernando Rodriguez plumbs the politics of socialization. Rodriguez uses a style, which is intentionally folkloric, carving rustic renditions of de Ia Cal, linked arm in arm with mirror images of himself. In so doing, Rodriguez exposes a dilemma which is not so much political as human — the incredible difficulty of maintaining individuality in a collective society.  


Rodamiento
Roller Bearings
(Detail)
aluminum and car grease

Sombra
Umbrella
umbrella stand and polychromed wood
 


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 Last Updated On: 1/13/06