Zaida del Río: My work is the reflection of who I am

/ 1 March, 2018

Zaida del Río is one of the Cuban painters of the generation of the 1970s. From a rural background, her talent enabled her to conquer Havana (…).

From that decade of Cuban arts history, her tender, beautiful and brilliant face was captured in the work by Flavio Garciandía Todo lo que usted necesita es amor (All you need is love) (1973, National Museum of Fine Arts). About the origin of this piece the artist states: “I can say I still love to lie down in the grass, as I did that day by chance. I was in Lenin Park (Parque Lenin). During the 1970s we used to go there a lot; a beautiful place I still visit, of course. A friend photographer took that picture of me, someone I knew, that is why I had that face, I was waking up. And then, Flavio, who was doing hyper realism, took the image and luckily for me painted the beautiful picture now seen in Fine Arts”.

(…) She is a genuine representative of her generation (…) We constantly fid in her work a variety of characters, which a vigorous stroke depicts between spots and colors. The artist acknowledges: “In my work, the lines, the drawing, are always protagonists, no matter how much color I use”. Therefore, in her painting, a lyric and peculiar cosmography has taken her to the remotest places of the being, of nature, of femininity, of sensuality and of habits and exotic cultures.

(…) She tackles all topics with intense passion, taking all pretexts as if essential for the universe. Hence, the vehement lines, the intense color spots, the way she contrasts them all and the way she interweaves the shapes. Her last intention is to get to know herself: “My work is an absolute reflection of who I am, since I paint by inspiration. I do not usually hesitate on what to do, unless it is about a sculpture or a mural. I work, work and work and I always feel like working. I paint every single day”.

A transcendental point in her career is her transfiguration as the bird woman, a theme that became particularly evocative in that self–recognition intention: “For me, all moments are important because I frequently change the theme; I have been inspired by seascapes, by the Afro Cuban or the catholic religions, or by Buddhism, or by numerology and aromas… but I believe that the moment I created the bird woman was significant, that was not really invented by me (…)”.

(…) From the outstanding artists like Zaida, we always expect more, but she is not bothered by that: “I live without that burden. I am grateful for life and for everybody’s acknowledgement”. Being an artist is a calling, is an impetuous need to be in another dimension that links imaginary and reality. That is the way her work exists and flows. Everybody recognizes her strength, the coherence between her being and her doing; many admire her for being a great fighter, most admire her beautiful art, and some others believe she is eccentric for arrogantly dressing as a Peacock. She has established rules, like other relevant women (…).

We approach everything revealed about the artist in her work, but the possibility to decode the woman and the work is infinite (…).

Onedys Calvo

Onedys Calvo

She holds a master’s degree in Art History. Lives and works in Havana. She is a curator with the City Historian’s Office and contributes to various specialized publications, such as Artecubano, Revolución y Cultura and OPUS Habana. She also contributes to the radio station Habana Radio as a journalist, and is the director of the Center for Interpretation of Cuba-Europe Relations, Palacio del Segundo Cabo, Havana.

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