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Cuba's Artists Come in from the Cold

Artist in Havana, CubaInternational collectors and art lovers are excited about the cadre of Cuban artists beginning to dominate the dynamic Havana art scene.  And as restrictions loosen on travel and trade between Cuba and the rest of the world, Cuban artists are taking their rightful place in the global art community bringing with them fresh new interpretations of their classical training.

Artists in Cuba enjoyed privileged status, just as all creatives did in the heyday of the Soviet empire, making them one of the few social groups to reap benefit from the communist regime.  Under Castro, Cuban art students were given free education and training in Cuba and in the Warsaw Bloc countries: a solid grounding in the classics.  But ironically, it is at the informal school of print making where many Cuban artists developed their own style. 

The Experimental Graphics studio in old Havana is a workshop where the focus is on lithography and print-making, techniques underwritten and supported during the pre-revolutionary era in Cuba for the design and manufacture of the country’s signature cigar bands and wrappers.  In 1962, the communist Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda lobbied the minister of art, Che Guevara (a man who knew the value of a striking block print) to reopen and support the workshop to ensure that this unique art form did not disappear.  Since that time, the studio has acted as a gallery and training center for young Cuban artists, who have developed printmaking into a truly significant technique with an international fan base from as far as Tokyo and Spain. 

Since 1990, artists in Cuba are permitted to engage in private enterprise and their paintings, prints, and sculptures are beginning to be regular fixtures in European and North American galleries such as the Octavia Gallery in New Orleans, which is currently mounting “Summer in Havana” with a range of paintings from leading Cuban artists. 

“Cuban art is at the forefront of the international art world. Armed with social and political references, Cuban artists are making statements that are observations of life through original perspectives,” explained Octavia’s owner Pamela Bryan.

To explore Cuba’s burgeoning independent art scene in Havana, head to the Old Town, where many of the leading galleries are based, and new ones spring up almost weekly.  The popular Havana Biennial, established in 1984, will take place in May 2017.

Alexander+Roberts are delighted to introduce all Americans to Cuba with a range of people-to-people itineraries including our history making Cuba by Sea Cruise on the Panorama II!

Posted: 7/27/2015 3:42:31 PM by Alexander + Roberts