miércoles, 15 de octubre de 2014

GLEXIS NOVOA @ Juan Ruiz Gallery


Painting on Canvas is Cuban artist’s Glexis Novoa’s first solo exhibition at Juan Ruiz Gallery, specifically noteworthy for the following two aspects:  the artist's revisiting of an early period interrupted by exile in the mid 1990s and the context in which the work was created, Havana, where the artist recently set up a studio after a twenty-year hiatus.  Novoa’s return to the formal qualities of the 
Etapa Práctica
[the Practical Stage] and to the specificity of the Cuban context reveals poignant aspects of contemporary Cuban art today and the artist’s place in it. 

Glexis Novoa has been a pioneering figure in contemporary Cuban art since the late 1980s. He belongs to the younger generation of artists, who along with the group Volumen Uno that preceded them, organized groundbreaking exhibitions that challenged the status quo of Cuban cultural politics.  At times referred to as “the children of the revolution” for having been the first generation to grow up under Fidel Castro’s socialist government, Novoa and his contemporaries ushered in contemporary art practices that drew from international trends such as conceptual art, pop and kitsch aesthetics. While committed to art’s potential as an agent for social change, Novoa was a leading figure in employing performative and interventionist strategies that with cunning satire further contested the strictures imposed by communist ideologies on the role of art in society.  In his personal work, he created an artistic persona and planned the development of two bodies of work: Etapa Romántica (mid 1980s) and Etapa Práctica (late 1980s to early 1990s), which follows the artist’s transition from one who intentionally creates “bad” works of art – poorly executed and lacking any formal decorum – to a practical period in which the artist then purposefully displays his technical dexterity and commercial savvy. Through large-scale ambitious installations and paintings that were masterfully executed in the style of Expressionism and Constructivism, Novoa populated his work with Soviet-style symbols imbued with the visual grandiosity of political ideology.  Yet, upon closer inspection the signs and abstract forms that occupied his paintings were empty of any meaning.  By co-opting a formal language at once familiar and attractive to local and international audiences, Novoa guaranteed his place in the then burgeoning art market for contemporary Cuban art, while making a subversive, cunning commentary on the communist ideology rendered vacuous and bankrupt at the close of the Cold War.

Painting on Canvas draws heavily on the abstract expressionist style of this period.   Here, Novoa abandoned the meticulously rendered imagined urbanscapes in graphite on marble and drywall, often as site-specific installations, for which he has become known since permanently settling in Miami.  In the new work, solid blocks of Brutalist-like forms depict symbols that address the specificity of a post-Soviet Cuba, yet the bold abstraction of structures in other paintings evidence the influence of more universal and metaphysical concerns.  Each creates a subtle yet poignant commentary, literally layered with paint and figuratively with meaning, about socio-cultural, political and economic realities rooted both in the contradictory realities of the new Cuban context and the plurality of his personal and cultural identities.  Novoa’s acts of return also reveal the complexities inherent in the production and consumption of contemporary Cuban art. Like in Etapa Práctica, he plays into mechanisms of power; this time of art market demands that privilege the legitimacy of Cuban art as contingent upon place (Cuba), eschewing broader diasporic productions and transnational relations. Novoa both reinforces and challenges those biases.  His new work and his place in the broader narrative of contemporary art ultimately reveal the inherent tensions and inevitable interconnectedness between the local and global in today’s cultural production, as well as, the de-territorialization of nation and diaspora.

Elizabeth Cerejido
Independent Curator
Miami, Florida
October 2014

DATE: Thursday, 16 October, 2014 to Saturday, 22 November, 2014 

sábado, 27 de septiembre de 2014

ANGEL DELGADO @ Building Bridges

“Paisajes Incomodos”

    In his new series of paintings titled “Paisajes Incomodos” cuban artist Angel Delgado explores a theme constantly present throughout his work: the human condition and its relationship to the notions of freedom and identity. In this occasion, Delgado presents a series of paintings that far from the traditional idea of landscape, they constitute a view, indeed, but of rather a social panorama of what one would call modern societies. By juxtaposing everyday objects, aerial views of prisons and human silhouettes, the artist creates a composition that evokes a state of alienation. The individual seems utterly reduced to a series of social codes, to which he is, nevertheless, inextricably bonded.

       Delgado proposes to think about one’s identity as the result of a particular experience determined by a reality that is constituted not only physically but mentally. Delgado himself assures that his work does not reveal whether the figure represents the inmate in his cell longing freedom or the common citizen feeling imprisoned. What emerges from that tension is precisely a break in the logic of a system. Delgado’s figures lack spatial specificity precisely because they remain in that shadow-like zone. The physical space of enclosure where mobility is restricted is also the enclosed space of repression. With a Foucaultian gesture, the artist makes us aware of a reality that is not marked by bars or walls but by cultural or ideological concepts. The artist ultimately proposes to reconsider the structures through which contemporary societies are organized and how they develop paranoid and suspicious of the very idea of freedom they construct.   

    In Delgado’s new series there is also the presence of those wandering figures we so often encounter in the streets of any major city: the homeless. Here, Delgado seems to shift perspective as he goes from the enclosed space to explore the idea of mobility. The homeless, that eternal nomad, is an anonymous figure, an individual reduced to his precarious condition. With the homeless, which is not the same thing as the houseless, the artist invites us to think about the idea of place beyond the notion of physical space. Space is abstract and open but place is structured, limited and social. That is precisely why the homeless is perceived as being displaced or out of place. His condition represents a rupture with the social and moral expectations as those are directly associated with the idea of place. The anonymous traveler, carrying a suitcase, seems to enter in a dialogue with the homeless who transports his belongings on a shopping cart. And once more, one is left with the juxtaposition of these two figures, one longing for a place and the other one in a continuous attempt to escape from it. 

    Delgado, who just recently moved to Las Vegas, evokes the theme of transitory space so often associated to this peculiar city and invites us to reflect on how our reality, as it is physically and mentally constructed, shapes and defines our perception. These landscapes are uncomfortable indeed because in them the individual seems to be powerless. Among lines, color, transparencies and superpositions these faceless figures speak to us of something of the human condition and our struggle to make sense of the reality we construct.    

Patricia Ortega Miranda
September 26, 2014

THE TROJAN HORSE @Jorge Mendez Gallery

In several books and articles Cuban-born American writer and historian Servando Gonzalez has expressed a notion that certainly calls for complex thinking, one that he illustrated with the ancient image of The Trojan Horse. Cuban artist Rafael Lopez-Ramos successfully captured this concept on a brilliant homonym painting, conceived as a symbol of the "Cold War" and the central role Cuba played on that mise-en-scène during the second half of the twentieth century.

During such period, the small island gained an amazing relevance in our world, in almost every field: sports, politics, science, and of course, ARTS. The Jorge Mendez Gallery brings together 10 contemporary Cuban artists in a dramatic group exhibition – The Trojan Horse. Inspired by Abstract Expressionism, Modernism, and Post Modernism each artist has developed their own evocative style – best described as surprising and thought-provoking. Their visual narratives characterize by energetic movement, saturated color, intense emotion and suggestive shapes, whether exploring the human figure, the landscape or a pure abstraction. While each working on their own canvas, collectively they expose and celebrate the untold truths of a nation’s journey.

Juan Manuel Alonso
Lazer Fundora
Roney Fundora
Antonio Guerrero
Alejandro Leyva
Jorge Llamos Gonzalez
Rafael Lopez-Ramos
Miguel Angel Mendez
Natasha Perdomo
Jose Perez Olivares

 Join us for an opening reception on Friday, October 10th , from 6-9pm or anytime thereafter through November 12th to view The Trojan Horse.

756 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Gallery Phone: (760) 656-7454

11 am - 5 pm Thursday - Monday
(closed Tuesday & Wednesday)

lunes, 15 de septiembre de 2014

THIRD SPACE Inventing The Possible @ MOCA

This visual story is one that has not yet been told. Not because there is no storyteller to tell it, but because it exists only in fragments each assuming its own autonomous existence removed from the constraints of mainstream history.

THIRD SPACEtricolon  Inventing the Possible is the story of visual artists who defy their otherness and enter the realm of 21st century aesthetics not only to lay their historic claim on it, but also to challenge the framework which defines and polices its boundaries. This exhibition engages Miami artists in their articulations of the lines of continuities. What comes out is that we do not cease to be related simply because separated by race, nationality or color.

Thu 09.25.14   |   7-9pm | MOCA OPENING RECEPTION – THIRD SPACEtricolon  Inventing the Possible
Thu 09.25.14 – Su 11.02.14  |  MOCA EXHIBIT – THIRD SPACEtricolon  Inventing the Possible
Fri 09.26.14 | 8pm  |  Jazz at MOCA  |  8pm Featuring Kiki Sanchez Latin Jazz Project
Sat 09.27.14 | 2pm  |  MOCA Contemporary Dialogues  |  In Their Own Words
Wed 10.01.14 | 7pm  |  MOCA Moving Images  |  Ana Mendieta: Fuego de Tierra


lunes, 14 de julio de 2014


Juan Ruiz Gallery is pleased to invite you to the opening of  our summer exhibition, Short Story showing small format works from 11 Miami based artists.

Thursday, July 24th from 6:30 - 9:00 PM

Curated by artist Ruben Torres-Llorca, the exhibit aims to display a cross- sectional sampling of the best of Miami art scene while demonstrating that the excellence of an artwork is not necessarily tied up to big scale, a trend that begun to flood the art market since the 80s. In the other hand, Short Story place an emphasis on the value of cogitative art narratives against the background of an “after-Modernism” of sorts that seems to try stimulating the regressive exploration of pure forms by dragging Contemporary art back to the dominating issues of early 20th Century Avant-gardes.

Esteban Blanco
Pip Brant
Carol K. Brown
Randy Burman
Liliam Dominguez
Kathleen Hudspeth
Mary Larsen
Rogelio Lopez-Marin
Rafael Lopez-Ramos
Ruben Torres-Llorca
Lucy de la Vega

The show will run from July 24th to September 20th 2014

Juan Ruiz Gallery
301 NW 28th Street
Miami, Florida 33127
Telephone: 786 310 7490

domingo, 6 de julio de 2014

"MEDITAR" un texto de Beatriz Gago

La curadora y crítico de arte Beatriz Gago nos hace llegar vía email este análisis que ha dedicado al performance colectivo Meditar y al contexto artístico de los años 80 en que fue realizado.


Por Beatriz Gago
Correo-e: marianamg@infomed.sld.cu

De los tempranos 80 emergen, en forma espontánea e incontenible, una serie de agrupaciones que convergían en nuevas maneras de experimentar las prácticas artísticas en el terreno de las artes visuales.
No era la primera vez que los artistas decidían asociarse en la historia de la cultura cubana, especie de ciclo sin fin en el cual cada acierto es en principio juzgado y condenado como herejía. Las propuestas intelectuales o artísticas más novedosas, las que arriesgaron o se comprometieron más con su época, tuvieron con frecuencia que atrincherarse tras estrategias grupales y cargar con el “san benito” de supuestas disidencias, antes de que la posteridad las consagrara como hechos de mención indispensable.

Es bien conocida la historia de la abstracción en nuestro país: usualmente adherida a las causas culturales y sociales más progresistas que tuvieron su punto culminante a mediados del Siglo XX, aquellos que la militaban triunfaron desde la reunión de esfuerzos, tanto sobre el despecho de una escuela figurativa bien establecida, como sobre la suspicacia del poder político, que encontró siempre en ellos una especie de incómodo fantasma, contestario y problémico, que evocaba rebelión.
Igualmente sobrevivió como “isla” el movimiento estético dirigido por Samuel Feijóo en la región central de Cuba, uno de los acontecimientos más auténticos de toda nuestra historia cultural, asechado siempre por un dictamen de insanidad manejado desde los márgenes, un recurso del que tanto se ha abusado en Cuba durante este medio siglo.

Muchas de las confluencias grupales que accionaron en la década de los años 80 con carácter permanente y con una identidad bien establecida se diferenciaban de aquellas otras, en cambio, por ser equipos de creación colectiva: las acciones de 4x4 (1982); Hexágono (1983); Puré (1986), Arte Calle (1986), grupo Provisional (1986) y otros, generaron capítulos esenciales para el arte contemporáneo de la isla.
Nunca volverían a ser tantas estas alianzas, nunca volverían a abarcar un universo de propuestas tan diverso pero sobre todo, nunca volverían a ser después a tal punto autónomas.

Eran la respuesta a un lustro de instrucción especializada que privilegiaba a las mayorías y también, el grito de una creación que se desembarazaba de la mordaza de un largo período gris.
Otras (re)uniones, que no poseyeron siquiera un nombre o un manifiesto, constituyeron, igualmente útiles y necesarias coartadas para hacer valer hallazgos y rupturas formales y evadir el aislamiento que debieron soportar, desde la condición de su individualidad creadora, artistas tan cardinales como Antonia Eiriz, Servando Cabrera, Umberto Peña o Santiago Armada.

El mejor ejemplo de ello estuvo centrado en la propuesta de exposición realizada en el ya lejano 1978 en la Galería L: Seis nuevos pintores, la cual fue censurada. Los participantes en esta muestra eran José Bedia, José Manuel Fors, Gustavo Pérez Monzón, Rubén Torres Llorca, Ricardo Rodríguez Brey y Juan Francisco Elso. Seis Nuevos Pintores podría haber sido solo otra exposición, por demás inofensiva, vista con carácter retrospectivo, pero lo que singularizó esta acción abortada es que ella se hizo latente, sin dudas, el embrión de Pintura fresca (1979) y dos años más tarde de Volumen I (1981). La confluencia de estos jóvenes artistas se mantuvo viva durante casi diez presentaciones nacionales e internacionales y se convirtió en el núcleo de una renovación radical de las prácticas artísticas en la isla: el Nuevo Arte Cubano.

Hoy, mientras empieza a profundizarse progresivamente en el conocimiento de las propuestas que nos legaron grupos como Provisional, Puré o Arte Calle, otras acciones de gran interés que reunieron artistas de manera excepcional durante la década permanecen, en cambio, casi inexploradas, pues realizadas desde la impronta de una gestualidad comprometida y apasionada, se conservó escasa memoria acerca de ellas.
Sobre la más conocida de todas, la acción Todos estrellas. La plástica cubana se dedica al béisbol. (¡Por la recreación, la cultura física y el deporte!), se ha trabajado intensamente en los últimos años, reuniendo imágenes, documentación y recuerdos de fuentes diversas, ya que el “Juego de Pelota” resulta en una especie de epílogo del período, el manifiesto definitivo con que los artistas y especialistas vinculados a la plástica, afrontados a una imposibilidad de entendimiento con la institución arte, solicitarían de esta una revalorización de su verdadero papel como creadores en nuestra sociedad.

Pero algunos de los participantes que estuvieron aquel día en el terreno del Echeverría habían protagonizado también, apenas un año antes, una acción que podría constituir una de las más importantes e intelectualmente consecuentes de toda esta etapa.

El catorce de junio de 1988 los artistas Nilo Castillo, Luis Gómez, Abdel Hernández, Lázaro Saavedra, Alejandro López, Rafael López-Ramos, Hubert Moreno, Arnold Rodríguez (Peteco), Teresa Ortiz, Ciro Quintana y José Luis Alonso Mateo realizaron en la Plaza de la Revolución la acción plástica Meditar, ante una multitudinaria concentración de público, que había asistido a un espectáculo ofrecido en honor al cumpleaños 60 de Ernesto Guevara que incluyó danza, poesía, cine y un bailable con algunas de las orquestas más populares del momento. Los artistas pintaron, directamente con sus manos, un enorme texto compuesto por la palabra MEDITAR, sobre un panel de madera de unos tres metros de alto por quince o veinte de ancho, orientado de frente a los asistentes y visible a gran distancia.

Imágenes de la acción artística colectiva Meditar realizada en la Plaza de la Revolución en 1988,
reproducidas en Cuba Internacional en noviembre de ese año.

Desde el punto de vista formal la pieza aporta elementos que se tornan referenciales, especialmente si son analizados tomando en cuenta el momento en que fueron concebidos: el uso de la valla promocional de gran formato como soporte físico de la obra, la resignificación de la consigna popular y la implicación creativa y ética que conllevó el hecho de conformar las letras manualmente, son factores en que la obra siembra un precedente.

Meditar logra además insertarse armónicamente en un contexto complejo, conformado por múltiples estratos simbólicos que coexisten y penden unos de otros, pero que nunca se tocan: el ícono marmóreo, inamovible; el poder que observa y propicia la fiesta popular desde una distancia irreductible, segura; la cultura convocada como coadyuvante de un fin político y por último, invisibles a la vista, formando la base de esta construcción monumental, las masas, imprescindibles del todo, sentido mismo de tal puesta  en escena.

Al intervenir precisamente la escala cultural, Meditar contrapone con enorme efectividad el arte como conquista del pensamiento, a aquel concebido como jolgorio y letargo.

Hoy día que tanto abundan los juicios desalentadores sobre el cumplimiento de nuestra responsabilidad como pueblo; que hemos defraudado a algún que otro eminente analista al hacer balance de nuestros defectos y virtudes colectivos, MEDITAR aún resulta la palabra perfecta para aquellos que bailamos en la oscuridad.

La Habana, 14 de junio de 2014

(Publicado en El Correo del Archivo No. 21, editado por el Archivo Veigas)