Happy Together

On some associations in Cuban art

/ 1 March, 2016

I

During the last decades Cuban art has been seen from a qualitative perspective (…). In this sense, with their efforts and works they mark a sort of thermometer of the prevailing expressive courses. But, how should the creative groups place themselves in this periodization? Would it be appropriate to approach them according to the creative personality of each of their members or would it be convenient to study them according to their general proposal? In any case, these associations have also marked guidelines in the historiography of Cuban art (…) But studying the groups requires updating the look and understanding that its existence in the present panorama answers the new needs and aspirations.

II

Pedagogical orientation is very important when we talk about groups of recent appearance. San Alejandro Academy undoubtedly is one of the irradiation focuses of new groups which have had more or less eventful lucks. Among the attempts to activate creation in the Academy there are projects like Cascarilla, Zip and Nuevos Fieras (New Fauves). (…) The topics of the pieces produced by the Nuevos Fieras were as varied as the obsessions of each artist and they abided by the attention to color as liberation, as rupture with the tradition. The workshop had three editions and their first exhibition was during the Tenth Havana Biennial in 2009. The homonymous exhibition served as a manifest and as a promotional gesture. (…) The workshop ended in 2012 because of various reasons, the most deplorable of which was the loss of interest and strictness of the students in the project.

III

Another of the profiles the groups follow is the promotional one, emphasizing the execution of works that intend to be exquisite in their presentation and articulating novel marketing strategies. Some of the groups that stand out in this trend are Stainless, The Merger, Serones, among others. Stainless has attained in few exhibitions the attention of the audience and the critic. Their irruption in the world of art took place in 2011, when they held their first exhibition in the Spanish American Cultural Center, backed up by curator Píter Ortega who, in his egocentric eagerness for discovery, guaranteed that this exhibition and its craftsmen would enter into the history of Cuban art on the same level of the most outstanding creative groups. (…) Quite apart from any passionate reflection on Stainless, each presentation shows how triumphalist and premature were Píter Ortega’s viewpoints in his aim to endow the group with a genuine poetic of collective orientation, with weigh enough to achieve a place in the story of Cuban art.

IV

There is a sort of intermediate space in the map of the artistic collectives where groups interested in achieving a wide reception are and sustain their proposal in rigorous researches and experimentations through the counterpoint between high and low culture, between everyday and elitist or between fashion and what is markedly serious. The jorge & larry duet, since it began in 2008, has worked these topics from the intermittent character of their works. This twosome likes to refer to Cuban art through satire, to interrogation on the status of the artists, the galleries and all the modeling orders of the “cultural fauna”. (…) jorge & larry shy away from any aesthetic rule or moral prohibition; the writer intending to undergo detoxification from an insurmountable tradition and the artist trying to crack the formal limits of representation peep at each other in their work, or perhaps it is the opposite. There are no defined roles to dismantle the systems ruling art by compressing their possibilities, although in that eagerness they may run the risk of being caught in the same underworlds they condemn.

V

We also found an alternative that certain groups have followed, headed to explore topics linked with what is grotesque and scatological, approaching social matters from a non-conformist stance. These groups do not usually operate in known galleries. On the contrary, their action centers lie in independent spaces or Houses of Culture, and are formed according to interests similar on the identity of their visualization.

Colectivo F8,i belonging to the before mentioned trend, was founded on January 2012 under the initiative of Yanahara Mauri Villarreal and Yuri Obregón Batard. The main cause that took them to gather as a group was their common interest in facilitating the production of exhibitions. The elements that interest them the most are the premeditation and perfection of the staging, achieving images with high symbolic contents. The collective, in spite of not having a fixed roster, also agglutinates, promotes and spreads the work of other artists who bet for a display where scenography and theatricality are fundamental. (…)

VI

The young groups existing in the Cuban visual panorama today rely on the difficult task of profiling their intentions and being consistent with the postulates of their training and the concerns they search to represent. For many artists, the groups are the first step on the path to achieve safety and positioning which will later allow them to follow a career of their own. We do not find in those groups the iconic works generated decades before and still today continue to be paradigms of comparison. Perhaps the riskier element may be the struggle of their members to individually excel over choral elements; the fragility of their uniqueness is revealed in this path and the singular talent or simulations are discovered.

i The group was integrated by Dany del Pino, Javier Bobadilla, Lourdes Bermúdez, Rodney Batista, Yangset Clemente, Yoanny Aldaya, Yomel Montejo, Yuri Obregón, Ariane Suárez and Yanahara Mauri, although in each exhibition project they relied on guest artists.

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