Estrella Díaz

Estrella Díaz

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

“I Love My Country and Everything About This Island.”

Michel Mirabal, who was born in a tenement house in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood of Havana, remembers that as a child he "felt a great twitching in his hands" that only subsided when he began to draw. That’s why "while I waited for my turn to bat in the pick-up ball games that sprung up on any corner, I would take out my little notebook and started scribbling." He says that such was his desire to express things that when he was about six years old, he refused to talk for about three months and only communicated through drawings: "I was fascinated by that experience because it gave me the possibility for people to understand me through my drawings," he says with a mixture of pride and mischief. The visual arts world opened up for him when he was still a design student; he began working with maestro Omar Corrales, one of the most renowned set designers at the National Ballet of Cuba (BNC). "That experience lifted me up and it was the exact moment in which I began to design and to paint and to understand chiaroscuro and large-format art. It is a parallel world in which I was...

Discurso primario, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 200 x 200 cm

Montoto: Change of Direction or Continuity?

Watermelons, coconuts, squashes, eggplants, mangoes, cucumbers, garlic, eggs, papayas, onions and peppers, among many others…, have been assiduously and successfully represented in the work of outstanding plastic artist Arturo Montoto and, although he confesses he “will never abandon those icons,” in his most recent personal exposition titled Dark there is a change of direction that surprises the spectator used to enjoying the exquisite textures and fleshy aspects of the fruits that confuse and entrap us with the splendid pallet full of color.   With Dark – displayed last August in the Gorría Gallery Workshop under the sponsorship of renowned Cuban actor Jorge Perugorría and which is located in the barrio of San Isidro, in colonial Havana – Montoto (Pinar del Río, 1953) retakes sculpture but on this occasion – and for the first time – based on large format: four sculptures and four canvases that demonstrate the intellectual solidity of the artist, his ethics and his unbiased stand when making a change of direction? or a coherent continuity? in his sustained work.   Resin and fiberglass are the support of the four singular sculptures created by Montoto and from them he emits signs, roads, concerns and accents...

Nur. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

NUR: “There Will Always be Stories to be Told”

María Stefania Diez Moreno, NUR (Havana, 1978). Daughter of renowned craft artists, her home was also the site where visual artists, musicians, poets, craftspeople and theater people frequently gathered: “ever since I was a child I felt the need to paint. I was only interested in that…. My parents took me to the Visual Arts Elementary School.” That was the seed that contributed to NUR’s cultivating a personal and very feminine work that invokes reflection, analysis and the visual enjoyment of beauty. When NUR got to the San Alejandro Art Academy she came with “important tools,” learned in the Havana Visual Arts Elementary School – which unfortunately no longer exists. There, she affirms: “there was staff of excellent professors who taught you the first steps,” the secrets of drawing, engraving or sculpture. But that school enlightened, opened a wide range of knowledge, it put the students into contact with Cuban art and with the maestros of universal art at a very early age. All that knowledge enabled her to make her dream come true of entering the Academy. Ever since she set foot there she felt sheltered and enveloped by a magical and oneiric world: “It wasn’t a shock, because...

Piece of the series "Músicas", from 1975. Lithography (30 x 42 cm) by Leonel López-Nussa.

LIGHTS AND SHADOWS. Leonel López-Nussa: Innately Indispensable

Leonel López-Nussa (Havana, 1916-2004): Draftsman, painter, engraver, illustrator, narrator, journalist and art critic. A maestro who knew how to wield in parallel the pen, the brush and the gouge, and create a family included among the most representative of the contemporary panorama of Cuban music. Barely two years ago, in 2016, Cuba commemorated the centennial of Ele Nussa: that’s how Leonel López-Nussa signed – between the 1970s and 1980s – his witty criticisms, reviews and comments in the pages of the magazine Bohemia. His lucid, incisive and enjoyable writings are not only the testimony of what was happening on the island in terms of plastic arts - during those decades the term visual arts had just been coined -, but also in other parts of the world. His texts, of great depth, could be understood by the average reader without leaving aside the solid argument and, on occasions, a certain dose of irony and pungency. Having a high ethical sense, he always said what he thought, which is why many of his criticisms were not well-received. National Prize for Plastic Arts Pedro de Oraá has correctly said that López-Nussa’s criticisms “encouraged against all odds and for many years an almost...

Sosabravo

Sosabravo: Dedication and Love for Cuban Culture

Maestro Alfredo Sosabravo (October 25, 1930, Sagua la Grande, Las Villas) is almost 90, an anniversary he will be celebrating in two years with a retrospective exhibition in the Havana Museum of Fine Arts. But before this, this man of fluid speech and a lucid mind has many plans and, to achieve them, he is working – with the spirit of a high-performance athlete – more than eight hours a day in his studio workshop, located in the district of Miramar. Right now, Sosabravo – together with his inseparable, also ceramist and close collaborator for more than 40 years, René Palenzuela - is buried in the production of the pictorial work he will take, for the third time, to the Italian city of Rome. For this creator – 1997 National Prize for Visual Arts - the second semester of 2018 will be of intense and feverish activity because he will visit, as part of his work, several Italian cities: Verona, to “make some bronze pieces”; Murano, “some glasswork” and Albissola Marina – between Genoa and Savona – to “work on ceramics.” And everything, he said in an exclusive conversation with OnCuba, “with the desire, enthusiasm, curiosity and surprise of the...

Rocío García: Going Into the Profound, the Essences

  Outstanding Cuban painter Rocío García at this moment is immersed in her own creation and doesn’t want to be distracted by anything. Every day, in her studio/workshop in El Vedado, she talks with her characters and she especially enjoys the stories each one of them – together or separately – tells her from the canvas or the bristol board. Despite that, since she is “quite mystic,” she prefers to not give details “so the magic is not lost.” It is, then, more advisable to wait for her to surprise us with a new proposal that will surely make people talk. Rocío has been boxed in the homoerotic theme – and she recognizes it is an aspect that “touched, touches and will touch” her work - and a sign of this are her series: Peluquerías; Geishas; Hombres, machos, marineros; El domador y otros cuentos; Haikus; El thriller; Very, very light and very oscuro; El regreso de Jack el Castigador; and The misión, la más reciente. If the work of this painter – who has a very clean drawing on which the composition of the structure of each work is based – is studied in detail, what strikes the eye is...

Eduardo Guerra Photo by Ismario Rodríguez Pérez

Eduardo Guerra: Art can cure and heal

Eduardo Guerra was born in the western province of Pinar del Río, but since as child he suffered from asthma, the family decided to move to the town of San Luis, very close to the famous Robaina plantations, where the world’s most famous tobacco is harvested. When he was barely 12 years old his father – who was a cook – found out that in the nearby House of Culture “tests were being made to get into the Pinar del Río Vocational Art School.” He took his son by the hand and that was precisely the start of the career of that painter and engraver who considers that being an artist requires not just studies and talent but also constant, firm, sustained work. Eduardo Guerra believes in work. “Being in that school, in which I remained for some three years, allowed me in the first place to come into contact with excellent artists and professors like Mario García Portela – who at the time was the director of the academy -, Pedro Pablo Oliva, Humberto Hernández (El negro) and Pablo Fernández, among others. That first jolt was extraordinary.” While chatting with OnCuba he revealed that the greatest influence he recognizes...

"Old Masters". 2016. Abela.

Eduardo Abela: ” My Essence is Absolutely Cuban”

Eduardo Abela Torrás (Havana, 1963), who lives and creates in Havana, is the son and grandson of renowned visual artists who left an imprint in Cuban art. However, the third Abela revealed himself early on against his genetic condition and, although he always drew in his school notebooks and almost became “the classroom’s scribe,” he refused to follow his father’s and grandfather’s steps; at the time he wanted to be a musician “to dissociate myself from my legacy.” He thus opted for humor. He worked for publications – like DDT, Palante, Bohemia and the newspaper Tribuna de La Habana – where he found the space for his first works. But genetics doesn’t fail: “although I greatly enjoy humor, I sincerely never came to believe in it,” he confesses to OnCuba. When in the late 1980s Abela got to the prestigious San Alejandro Art Academy he was already cultivating a work linked to graphic humor. Since that specialty has guidelines and rules that must be respected, he felt that engraving would give him the tools to become a designer, which was his intention: “I didn’t want to be a painter. It was a battle I waged against myself,” he affirms. [caption...

Andy Rivero. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Andy: A Non-Conformist Abstract Artist

Andy Rivero (Havana, 1965) is a contemporary visual artist who from the beginning opted for abstract art. This creator develops his work in two important areas: painting and engraving, and perhaps is the Cuban abstract painter who has devoted the longest time to the multiple original. Three decades ago, the Havana Experimental Engraving Workshop opened its doors to him and, since then, he has been producing non-stop. Because of the excellent opportunities provided by collaging in terms of textures it is perhaps the technique that most suits the work of Andy who, moreover, has created very well authenticated and structured monotypes from the conceptual, aesthetic and technical point of view. Recently while talking with artist Pedro de Oraá, 2015 National Prize for Visual Art, about the work of Andy Rivero he made the following observation: “he is a painter who classifies as an abstract artist, but has his feet on the ground which is why I like to reiterate that he is a non-abstract abstract artist; for him ivory towers don’t exist nor is he daydreaming. One feels that his work is very close to the reality that surrounds him.” And maestro Oraá is completely right because Andy’s work, although...

Past, Present and Future: the Fors Triad

(Havana, January 10, 1956.) 2016 National Prize for Visual Arts. Graduated in 1976 from the renowned San Alejandro Arts Academy. His works are found in international collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale; University of Virginia Art Museum, Charlottesville; Farber Collection, New York; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami; Museum of Fine Arts, Caracas; Museo Las Américas, Managua; and in Havana: Museum of Fine Arts, Casa de las Américas, National Council of Visual Arts and Phototeque of Cuba. The Fors, who are natives of Catalonia, arrived in Cuba in the times of the colony. It is a family registered among the founders of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, of Mantua, according to a document from the time that José Manuel Fors zealously conserves. The work of Fors – who lives and works in Havana – is based on memory, interpreted like layers that are superimposed and deposited with the passage of time. But his concept of time doesn’t necessarily have to do with the philosophical category that alludes to only one direction. No. For Fors time is a handle, an...

Arian García. Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez.

Arian’s Two Skins

In El Cerro, one of the most popular municipalities of the capital, at No. 358 La Rosa Street, graphic designer, painter and sculptor Arian García (Havana, 1971) has his studio. In that emporium – which was the family’s home since the already distant 1903 – emerged the work of the creator who has been able (and has known how) to combine landscape, abstraction and design: three great and intense aspects, apparently distant but in his case with a common denominator: Cubanness and the recurrence of its symbols. When he was a child, Arian felt a deep and inexplicable need to represent the world that surrounded him; because of this he was always drawing and his school notebooks were the ideal support for that task: “I drew all the time and while my friends from the barrio played ball, I enjoyed painting them and imagining worlds in other dimensions.” However, he says in a conversation with OnCuba, I always dreamed of becoming an outstanding nuclear physicist, a career that at that time was studied in the former Soviet Union: “my colleagues, who knew about these abilities as a draftsman, encouraged me to do the entrance exams in the San Alejandro Art...

Angel Ramírez: Blue-Collar Art Worker

As a child, Angel Ramírez dreamed about being a doctor, which is why he used to assemble small bodies with plasticine to “operate on them” afterwards. While chatting with OnCuba he said: “their head had a lot to do with sciences,” and he felt a great inclination towards physics, chemistry and mathematics. But one day, while he was in secondary school – perhaps in 1968 – he found out about the existence of a workshop for visual arts amateurs which was in the populous Galiano Street of Havana. There he met Armando Posse, an indispensable creator who contributed to the development of engraving in Cuba and who, unfortunately, is not sufficiently recognized or studied. Posse gave him the first basics of making engravings on wood (xylography), and that was the spark that made Ramírez understand that his true vocation was visual arts. Then came the schools – first the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, and afterwards the National School of Art (ENA) and the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) – places that, one way or another, contributed to his formation and, above all, “equipped him with the essential tools to face the subsequent work.” For years, Angel immersed himself...

Yudit’s Creative World

Yudit Vidal Faife has assumed from the visual arts a personal challenge: to rescue the traditional stitches of Cuban lingerie. Her challenge has a historical foundation: “when the sugar industry stopped being the essential sustenance of Trinidad, crafts maintained economically many families and women were the fundamental pillar,” she says. The project Entre hilos, alas y pinceles (Between threads, wings and brushstrokes) that Yudit heads groups together twenty Trinidad craftswomen who cultivate unique and exclusive stitches – some from the 18th century and that have now been rescued: the natural cloth starts being filled with textures and the openwork or the crocheted applications are added to the cloth, and thus Yudit’s images come to life, as sui generis as Cuban. The work of this artist has been exhibited in Italy, Luxembourg, Holland, Ecuador, France, the United States, Spain, among other nations, and the Universal Circle of Ambassadors of Peace – based in Switzerland and France – granted her the title of Peace Ambassador, a distinction that is given for the first time to a Cuban woman. Foto: Alain L. Gutiérrez Almeida When Yudit was a child she would be given coloring books and she would start...

Photo: Alain L. Guitérrez Almeida

“If they tell me ‘no,’ I look for the ‘yes’,” Juanito says

In a conversation with Juanito—as he's known—one feels that behind every affirmation or word he speaks, a conceptual discourse is born, or better said, forged, after years of struggle among artists, fundamentally in the visual arts. The 20 years he worked as a representative for the maestro Manuel Mendive have been very useful. Juan Delgado Calzadilla was born in Havana, and earned a economics degree in 1989: “One is born with the interest and then live leads you to the most beautiful thing,” he says in a conversation with OnCuba, while not attempting to hid his very humble origins or the fact that he never once saw a work of art in his home during in his childhood, which he spent in the densely populated working-class neighborhood of Arroyo Naranjo. “My father, a factory worker, was a fantastic person, and he taught me, as did my mother, that the most beautiful thing in live is to be honest and hard-working. I grew up hearing the proverb, “Do good to all alike.” Juanito is a innate promoter, and in many ways, a creator who has a real nose and a sharp eye for finding good art, and knowing how to look...

Photos: Courtesy of the artist

Fotocerámica LeZkno: a dream to be shared

LezKno says the most attractive aspect of photo-ceramics is “enjoying the whole process,” because it is more than just snapping a photo; it is combining photography with the skilled work of transferring images to ceramic. “It is manual, artisan work, not serialized or automated as many believe, and it’s done tile by tile,” he explains. Photo-ceramics is “a very complex process at every stage. It requires sacrifice, long hours of work, possible mistakes or interruptions, and moreover, it involves the most artisanal aspect of ceramics, screen-printing, and other techniques. All of that makes it possible to take the artistic and creative level of the work to a higher level,” the artist told OnCuba in an interview. He is holds a degree in legal sciences from the University of Havana and a master’s in information security, but from a very young age, Yasser Lezcano has had an inclination for the fine arts. Nevertheless, he says, his training as a lawyer and computer specialist is a “tool” for his artistic trade. “Without a thorough knowledge of the new technologies, I would not be able to do this work. Unquestionably, computer science opened the door for me, and law made my life easier...

Julia’s Many Skins

From a very young age, Julia—daughter of the well-known Cuban sculptor René Valdés—was surrounded by paintbrushes, chisels, chunks of marble and pieces of wood, and this environment influenced her natural inclination toward the world of visual arts. However, far from following in the footsteps of her father, her “first teacher,” as she calls him, she chose abstract painting, which has been her language for creativity and communication from the very start. While she extensively studied and is influenced by the work of Jackson Pollock—a representative of so-called Action Painting, a tendency associated with abstract expressionism—Julia says that her chief inspiration has been her teacher Antonio Vidal, “an excellent professor who was not only a well-known painter but also a great educator; he was able to pass on his knowledge, leaving a margin for suggestions and communication with his students.” As an almost devout follower of abstraction, she describes that tendency as the maximum synthesis of reality based on vivid experiences. “Artists always incorporate autobiographical themes—sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, and personally, I’m not exempt from that reality.” This artist, who prefers working in the morning and afternoon hours, because “it’s when she can best perceive the colors that play a...

To Work: Lescay’s Great Monument

At a very young age, Alberto Lescay discovered that the visual arts “were his world”; however, he was torn at first by having to choose between sculpture and painting. “At this point, I haven’t decided on either, but on both,” he says with conviction. In August he will open a solo show in Mexico City una muestra personal that was preceded by a solo show in the central Mexican city of Querétaro, where, he told OnCuba in an exclusive interview, he feels “great among so many friends who love and welcome me.” Before that, though, he planned to exhibit at the 12th Havana Biennial, from May to June of this year, at the Morro-Cabaña national park (as part of a project called Zona franca). The main character of this solo show, Sueño de caballa, first appeared in his work 10 years ago and has acquired increasing relevance. “The caballa is an icon that embodies our reality, but at the same time it is a bit picaresque; it has a bit of humor and represents human problems related to ambiguities, vicissitudes, achievements, joys and sorrows. It all comes together in that character, and I’m going to try to express it in...

Roberto Fabelo: “I love even this island’s trash”

For Roberto Fabelo—a painter, draftsman, illustrator and sculptor—“creating is my greatest enjoyment” and a necessity that he has felt from a very young age. In his hometown of Guáimaro, he made lizards, frogs, and scorpions out of beeswax, and drew on his school blackboard and on polished paving stones with a carpenter’s pencil. Afterward, when he was a student at the Higher Institute of Art (ISA), he carved chalk into tiny, magical sculptures…. He’s always worked with any and every medium. Nevertheless, in recent times he has been making sculptures out of bronze, which is a very final medium; however, that’s not the most important aspect, he says: “Bronze is not a concept; it is a material, and I simply continue developing ideas and motifs according to my thematic agenda. Now it’s bronze, but if I feel the need to work in stainless steel, aluminum or bone—human or animal—that’s what I’ll do,” he says. During Fabelo’s exclusive interview with OnCuba, we assumed that he prefers to work in large format, an assumption that he does not share. “That’s not necessarily the case. Between June and September of 2014, at the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, California,...

Roberto Diago / Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez

Roberto Diago: 21ST century Cimarron?

Diago works in an inviolably systematic way, and always has “work done” because his goal is to enrich his project, and he is not restrained to a single specific idea or presentation. “For me, art or creation is freedom; sometimes the work that I am building changes whatever concept that I might have had in mind until then. Your day to day work guides you in what color is required, what kind of material, and that changes the whole concept, and therefore, its presentation,” he says. His first solo exhibition was in 1994, in Olorón, “a small French town, very little, pretty, very close to the Pyrenees. With that exhibition I broke the ice, and I marveled at seeing that the public understood what I was proposing and found it interesting. For a beginner, that is encouraging, because it is a way of losing fear when the time comes to show your work. When you’re a recent graduate you have a lot of doubts, and as the years go by, you feel like you are creating one big thesis everywhere you exhibit. You have to design interesting projects like that whether they’re for Havana, Paris, New York, Madrid or Burundi.”...

Pedro Pablo Oliva /Photos : Courtesy of Pedro Pablo Oliva

I painted what I experienced

PEDRO PABLO OLIVA (Pinar del Río, Cuba, 1949). From 1961 to 1964 he was enrolled at the provincial School of Visual Arts in the western province of Pinar del Río, and subsequently he specialized in painting at the National School of the Arts (ENA) in Havana, graduating in 1970. He is a member of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and the International Association of Visual Artists (AIAP). He has exhibited in major galleries in Italy, the United States, Panama, Colombia, Spain, Sweden, France, Mexico, and elsewhere. Since 1993, his work has appeared in Christie’s and Sotheby’s Latin American art auctions. The outstanding visual artist Pedro Pablo Oliva is currently immersed in making seven sculptures that will be conceived at the Fundición R.U.N., in Miami, and that are, in a way, the continuation of a project that he began way back in 1970, when he graduated from Cuba’s National School of the Arts (ENA), where he specialized in painting. Oliva, winner of the 2006 National Visual Arts Award, has moved from two- dimensional to three-dimensional work through ceramics, which is “a way of doing sculpture,” he tells OnCuba in an exclusive interview. He adds: “I wanted to...

Martha Jiménez

Martha Jiménez; “for me, Camagüey is inspiration and oxygen”

MARTHA JIMÉNEZ HAS A SHARP EYE; PERHAPS THAT IS why her work has such a high dose of realism, in her case with the nuance of an interwoven poetic element. Her work could be divided into two major moments: one that is conceptual and one that addresses local customs. As she revealed to OnCuba, there was a time in her life when she did not have space to create, because “my role as a mother occupied all of my time.” It was then that imaginary characters began to ap- pear, based on her immediate surroundings. This artist’s work has another distinct characteristic: she delves into the psyches of each character that she depicts, while also—and consciously—reflecting contradictory qualities, captur- ing everyday events and reactions. She is interested in reflecting Cuban idiosyncratic expressions, making them explicit so that “viewers see themselves reflected in my work, and feel like they are part of it.” The issue of women is a constant in her work. She claims that she does not align herself with any feminist current, but she is interested in “embodying women within their world, as a determi- nant being at the social level, the bearer of solid values.” Cuban women...

Reynerio Tamayo: I’m interested in sharing ideas

At a very young age, Reynerio Tamayo invented his own world: instead of going out to play, he preferred to stay home and imitate the cartoons that he copied from children’s magazines; perhaps that is why his work today is unmistakably marked by graphic humor. No family influence was involved in his inclination for the arts; however, he enrolled early on in the Elementary School of the Arts, in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, and then continued his studies at the Cuba’s National School of the Arts (ENA) and University of the Arts (ISA). From his student days, he holds fond memories of his teachers Antonio Vidal, who taught him how to paint with oils; Consuelo Castañeda; José Bedia; and Flavio Garciandía, all of whom contributed to the consolidation of his training and who gave him the essential tools for starting out in the difficult and complex world of art. Humor is a recurrent theme in Tamayo’s work. At times refined, at others more caustic, or even hurtful, it can reflect the most authentic Cuban way of joking, something the artist noted in an exclusive interview with OnCuba: “It has been very intuitive. I approached humor in...

The style without style of Kelvin López

If there is anything that distinguishes the work of Kelvin López, it is the diversity of his styles: it’s as if his hands multiply—into several pairs—and form a set of images organized into perfectly differentiated series. “I don’t always want to be the same artist, and my interest in not having a style can become a style,” he said. The young painter and engraver comes from a family where art and science converge: his mom was a math teacher at the School of the Arts, and it was perhaps from her that he inherited “a sense of analysis and rational thinking.” His brother, Kadir, is also a well-known artist (both brothers “snuck” into the academy’s workshops from a very young age). And his father has an innate capacity for correctly solving practical situations, along with many wonderful manual abilities. That context, Kelvin says, was the “motor force” of his development in the world of pictorial creation. He was born in the eastern province of Las Tunas and admits that coming to the capital was a shock: “The ISA (University of the Arts) is an essential place for understanding creation from a different standpoint, and it was a gift that life...

Zaida, the bird-woman

Zaida del Río is like her artwork: surprising and unexpected; for one thing, she refuses to take a common, hackneyed approach to anything. Her work expresses and exudes a deeply-rooted Cuban-ness, with a touch of the universal. Del Río, who hails from the central Cuban province of Villa Clara, is a woman who, using dissimilar media, has become one of the most important artists of the so-called ‘70s Generation, and the work she exhibits is solid, identifying and distinguishing her. A painter, engraver, ceramicist, illustrator, muralist, and poet, she has shown her work in well-known galleries and other spaces in countries including the United States, Puerto Rico, Poland, Denmark, Romania, Norway, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Canada, Holland, Sweden, Spain, Venezuela, Algeria and Japan, and she has participated in every edition of the Havana Biennial. In an exclusive interview with OnCuba, she says she was “very restless” as a child, and she had a penchant for singing, painting, theater, and “everything that had anything to do with art.” For that reason, in 1967, when she responded to an announcement for the entrance exams of the Cienfuegos Provincial School of the Visual Arts, they immediately notified her: “I had luck and opportunity. If...

Obbatalá’s son always tells the truth

His work “almost always” has hidden symbols but he prefers for “people to discover them,” because one of Manuel Mendive’s goals is to communicate with the public and for people to understand what he is saying, in an exchange that becomes a private conversation: “When the simplest spectator—someone who perhaps does not know who Pablo Picasso is—is moved, I get excited. That really is magic,” he says. Mendive was born in the densely populated Havana neighborhood of Luyanó on Friday, Dec. 15, 1944, but he feels best when he is in touch with the land, with animals and plants, and that is why he now lives on his farm, Manto Blanco, on Las Peregrinas hill in Tapaste, on the outskirts of Havana. There, “even though I am isolated, I am never alone; I was born in Luyanó, but I was reborn here.” This painter, draftsman, installation artist, engraver, muralist, set designer, graphic designer and performance artist is one of the most prestigious Cuban artists at home and abroad, and is viewed by many as being at the same level as virtuosos such as Servando Cabrera Moreno, Antonia Eiriz, Raúl Martínez and Umberto Peña, something that motivates him to “do work...

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