The Krasl Art Center is pleased to announce Arte Cubano as part of its exhibition programming. Arte Cubano highlights a universally agreed-upon characteristic of the island’s art: an incredible diversity. Cuban art is so rich in large part because of its diverse cultural blend of African, European, and Latin/Caribbean influences. Add to these traditional roots the revolution of 1959, and Cuban art occupies a unique aesthetic place in the contemporary art world. Arte Cubano opens November 30 at Krasl Art Center.
Building on changing relationships between the governments of the United States and Cuba, this timely exhibition reflects more than twenty-five Cuban artists’ ruminations on the quotidian, social, and political realities of the island and the contemporary world. The island geography and political intensity of Cuba inform the work in a way that is immediately identifiable, often concealing coded, even subversive, ideas while simultaneously celebrating the richness of Cuba’s cultural identity. Peeling away the layers of Cuban art often reveals a story of struggle caused by economic and political consequences, and the social upheaval that a true revolution produces.
The intensity and depth of meaning, with the specific physical and political context, make Cuban art immediately identifiable and powerful, and an important voice in the art world today. Most of all, the art is connected to Cuba itself. Both the island and the art are an unusual mix of the traditional and the modern, of the ordinary and the special, of simplicity and incredible complexity. The same can be said for the politics, the literature, the architecture, and the people. It confounds and entrances, it is rejecting and embracing.
The exhibition’s artists include Lidzie Alvisa, José Bedia, Los Carpinteros, Yoan Capote, Enrique Celaya, Roberto Fabelo, Diana Fonseca, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Kcho, Sandra Ramos, Esterio Segura, and more. Spanning several generations, these contemporary Cuban artists come from an unusual place: a country often isolated because of its socialist revolution. All of the artists in this collection grew up in socialist Cuba, and many graduated from the prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte—built at the beginning of the revolution, Havana’s equally excellent San Alejandro Art Academy, or the Escuela Nacional de Arte. Others graduated from local art schools. Despite their disparate backgrounds, aesthetic sensibilities, subject matter, materials, and styles, there is something uniquely Cuban about the art in this collection.
Mid-America Arts Alliance/ExhibitsUSA co-organized Arte Cubano with the Center for Cuban Studies (NYC) to synthesize two extraordinary private collections generously made available for the project. This exhibition could not have been made possible without their collecting vision and loan generosity. The Center for Cuban Studies opened in 1972 and was organized by a group of scholars, writers, artists, and other professionals, in response to the effects of US policy toward Cuba.