Once upon a time in Neverland

/ 1 June, 2016

Growing Up in Neverland was an exhibition at least heteroclite, enjoyable at times and somewhat imbued by that rather childish air, sarcastic by moments, which since the beginning of the 1990s, almost as an ailment, has characterized Cuban art. If we could trace a conductive yarn, it would have been marked by the helpful references to travel, most of the times sublimated to the point of dismissing from the fascinated eyes of the visitor the inherent odyssey of the tribulations of those who dare cross the Florida Strait by themselves.

In this sense, two bronze sculptures by Pedro Pablo Oliva (Pinar del Río, 1949) highlight. El gran viaje (The Big Journey, 2015) is a red umbrella that became a boat in which, as possessed by a lethargy, its crew members travel adrift guided by El gran abuelo (The Grand Grandfather), who, at all costs, intends to maintain the balance. (…) As a contrast, La gran carroza (The Great Carriage, 2014) might have been a beautiful pun of Jonah and the whale, although in this voyage it was the crew which was able to tame the fish and, with it, their own fate. Goodbye My Love (2012) by Esterio Segura (Santiago de Cuba, 1970) is a detail of a public art installation exhibited in advance by the artist (…) The separation, trivialized by the gleaming accent of pop and kitsch emphasized from the title, sums up the bittersweet moment of separation. (…) More centered in the possibility of reunion and reconciliation, 90 Miles (2011), by Sandra Ramos (Havana, 1969) recreates a fictional bridge which intends to join together both sides of the Straits of Florida. The artist starts with zenithal photography taken during flights between Miami and Havana which are integrated in light boxes on which the public indistinctly walk from one end to the other.

Growing in Neverland implies—in its sense as antinomy—the exile of the happiness promised by childhood innocence and the definitive assumption of reality as the only abode. Approaching the intricate ground of Cuban sociopolitical reality, the works by Lázaro Saavedra (Havana, 1964), José Ángel Vincench (Holguín, 1973), Ernesto Leal (Havana, 1971) and Javier Castro (Havana, 1984) stand out.

Software cubano (Cuban Software, 2012), by Lázaro Saavedra, appropriates the syntactic rules of the programming language to expose us to the various quandaries and/or alternatives detaching from the initial problem: “To separate itself from the common doctrine, belief or behavior”. (…) The series Pintura de Acción (Action Painting, 2015), by José Ángel Vincench (two paintings are included in the exhibition) is part of a logical evolution of the proposal of this artist interested in abstraction and silence and their interstices in art and Cuban political life. (…) Also included in the show, his series El peso de las palabras (The Weight of the Words, 2015) deals with latent prejudices in the idiosyncrasy of Cubans, summarized by Vincench from terms of the popular speech which stigmatize and segregate. Those are the cases of “Disidente”, “Cherna” or “Pasa” (respectively referring to political otherness, homosexuality or black race). (…)

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