A needed impetus for naive art

/ 2 December, 2014

The historically low level of interest that has been granted to naive art in our context, is a determining factor, not only in the ignorance of many of the artists and their proposals, but also in the many gaps that institutionally lacerate the circulation and promotion thereof. It is then remarkable the inauguration of the 2014 Naive Art Hall, open during the month of November to the public at the Center for the Development of Visual Arts. This event will display a wide range of the most current Cuban popular creation and will include complementary actions (projects of cultural activities for children and youth, lectures by artists and specialists, etc.) that ensure from the exchange and reflexivity, better reception of this creative mode.

Certainly, it is perceptible an almost inexistence of events and institutions specialized in naive art that integrate it more effectively in the national art scene. Although Diago Gallery focuses on the management of naïve art, its payroll is extremely reduced for a territory of so vast production. Also, the exhibition space of the gallery has been limited to a small area which prevents the execution of curatorial projects since its initial premises have been assigned to other duties.

The disappearance of Diago Gallery’s job profile is even more disturbing –it has already happened sometimes- as this is the only place in Cuba devoted exclusively to the promotion and marketing of naive art. In this sense, it was vital the influence of French promoter and collector Gérald Mouial and Cuban specialist Almeris Herrera (who is often ignored), because thanks to their work, Diago Gallery has retaken since 2004 to the present the work with naive art. For this reason, it is wise the new Hall to dedicate its actions to Mouial´s figure, who has really emphasized the recovery of Cuban naive repertoire. This is confirmed also through the developing, under his command, of the two volumes of “Magical Arts in Cuba” (2004 and 2009) that in addition to delve and problematize on the particularities of naïve art , become large catalogs, supports of verbal and visual expression of our popular artists.

However, the lack of research and critical studies on naive phenomenon is still evident. It is no surprising then that the inauguration of the 2014 Naive Art Hall was attended by very few people if compared with the public exhibition of contemporary art previously hosted by the Development Center; this without insisting on the parentage of many of the attendance with the creators or the truly large presence of children. It is easy to conclude then, that naive art is not a priority for most connoisseurs of Cuban art. Will the answer be related, perhaps, to the elimination of the Department of Popular Arts and its consequent profile programs of the Art History Bachelor Degree?

Anyway, such daunting scenario can only be reversed through efforts such as the 2014 Naive Art Hall, which will always be welcomed, given the relevance that revert to legitimize and consolidate in Cuba those expressions assumed as subordinate by not meeting the formal aesthetic and artistic guidelines.

Marilyn Payrol

Marilyn Payrol

(Santa Clara, 1990). Graduate of Art History at the University of Havana. Professor of Theory and Criticism at the University of the Arts (ISA). She is the editor of the website of Art OnCuba magazine. Their texts are available Artecubano News and Art OnCuba website.

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