By Ramon Vázquez and the Cuban Art Foundation

/ 1 March, 2018

Last October, the Cuban Art Foundation presented the book Portocarrero, by historian Ramon Vazquez Diaz, to the public of the island. Its author, an art history graduate from the University of Havana, worked for over forty years at the National Museum of Fine Arts and is the most knowledgeable connoisseur of this institution’s collection of Cuban artists from the decades of the 1930s and 1940s.

There he grew professionally and saw how the collections increased, handling the inventories, a process which allowed him to discover the magic of the warehouses, while he took care of the necessary details for the writing of the technical specifications sheet. His visits to the collectors of the art of those decades whowere still in the city date back to that same period. In this way, he managed to gain out of the ordinary knowledge about the works, individually and as a whole, of each of the members of that extraordinary generation. Therefore, his authorship gives this book an unparalleled value.

(…) The Cuban Art Foundation, created by Alejandro Rodríguez, has been undertaking invaluable efforts, encouraging the work and the publishing of studies and research about the art of that period, thus contributing to a greater visibility and better understanding of it, through the spreading of the work of its leading exponents. As a result, it has become the main publisher on Cuban art history for the salvaging and analysis of the Cuban arts scene of the first half of the 20th century.

Previously, there had been some publishing efforts on the island that were just modest contributions, aloof from the real knowledge accumulated by many colleagues, whose research was famous for spending years in their desk drawers and more recently in folders on their computers. (…)

The volume that is presented to the public today is the third of a series that started in 2012 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Rene Portocarrero. The first book featured the oil paintings and drawings the painter made in the prolific years of 1962 and 1963, followed by the second, which compiles the reviews published on the artist throughout his long and fruitful career.

However, this volume is, beyond its striking appearance, an example of artistic and cultural knowledge. It is a luxury edition, not only for its beautiful design and editorial care, which are undoubtedly remarkable (…)

We should consider as a true gift the inclusion of his first drawings, which, regardless of their limitations, had the strength of the imagination and the impeccable craft of the artist to come. We should be grateful for the presence of those pieces of paper that allow us to go beyond the obsession of seeing in Portocarrero the painter of Floras, Little Devils, Cathedrals and Cities. (…)

With this book we are in the presence of an indisputable contribution to Cuban art history, a volume that enriches us and makes us proud of our art and our culture.

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