Reinaldo López

An artista sheltered between drawings, ink, color and silence

/ 1 March, 2018

In a radio interview in August 2017, I confessed that one of the greatest and most beautiful experiences in my life was growing watching my father painting. Reinaldo López (1934–2014), was born on October 28 in Simpson heights, a popular neighborhood in Matanzas, the Athens of Cuba, where different cultural manifestations like rumba, danzón, abakuá ceremonies and other syncretic forms of worship coexisted, together with other traditional processions of the Virgen de Montserrat. His work drew inspiration from this polychrome, sonorous, magic and performative universe. My father owed all his passion for drawings to his father, Bienvenido López.

Among the anecdotes from his childhood that contributed to his passion for painting he spoke of the discovery of a character like the painter Fidelio Ponce de León, who lived for a while in an old house in Santa Teresa Street, next to my father’s family home. As a teenager, my father enrolled in painting and drawing at the Alberto Tarascó Provincial Fine Arts School. He took lessons there with outstanding artists like the maestro Roberto Diago Querol, with whom he shared a deep friendship. Diago and his wife Josefia Urfé became an indispensable part of his life, they trained him in the appraisal of fine arts (…)

He was part of the 1953 graduation (…) his fist exhibition in Galerías de Matanzas, together with artists Juan Blanco López, José R. Fundora and Agustín Drake (…) After this exhibition, he displayed some pieces in Salón de la Rampa, on May 5, 1954, with favorable reviews in El Mundo newspaper. During the 1950s, he worked preparing exhibitions and decorating private facilities, among which the mural for the Matanzas Optician Store, no longer existing today stood out. A great number of experiences characterized this stage that led him to a swift rupture with the academic canon emphasizing very intense lines, demonstrating the great influence of his up to then maestro Roberto Diago.

He settled in Havana during the 1960s. His work appeared in many solo exhibitions (…) and in 1967 when the Salón de Mayo was celebrated in Havana, he was among the 100 artists who painted the mural Cuba Colectiva, today treasured by the MNBA. The 1960s were of crucial importance for the artist, since in that period he consolidated his abstract language, creating mixed technique pieces, where ink and color complement each other. (…)

As a specialist of the group lead by the architect Mario Girona Fernández, part of his work consisted of the architectonic design of interiors, exteriors and landscape gardening, bequeathing the patrimony of the country emblematic works like the Pradera Africana (African Grasslands) located in the National Zoo, and the landscape design for Parque Lenin and Cayo Coco, among other projects. His extensive mural work such as Canto a las Antillas decorates public buildings, a mural using white and blue ceramics, located in Tritón Hotel; his mural Los Galápagos, with a charcoal painting of galloping horses, is located in a restaurant in Parque Lenin, in Havana.
At present, his family treasures an important number of his paintings and engravings, representative of his extensive artistic career.

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