These five Cuban visual artists keep on impressing critics and specialists, because of the thematic diversity, as well as for the appreciated formats and styles in their creations. PanamericanWorld proposes to get closer to five Cuban painters who have reached world renown. Not a few of their work has been exposed in the main art galleries and several of them are part of private and public collections.
He is a painter, drawer, printer, illustrator and sculptor. Fabelo is probably the Cuban plastic artist most acknowledged at the moment. The Literature Nobel Prize, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was his personal friend, qualified him in more than one occasion as one of the best drawers of the world. His fascination for chicken-women nudity has been reflected in tens of his works; although this genial creator does not want to be classified, according to Stuart Ashman´s words, President and Director of the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, California, “the artist is considered by many people as the Hero Daumier in the Cuban contemporary art, whose works make reference to the Devine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, to the magic realism of García Márquez, to Hieronymus Bosch, to the dexterity of the Holland and Flanders’ teachers and to the soul of Rembrandt.
According to Fabelo’s personal website his works have been included in more than 500 collective exhibitions, in 34 countries. He has prepared 42 personal expositions in eleven countries; ten of those have been in very important museums, among them: Havana’s National Museum of Fine Arts, where he has inaugurated five individual shows. This museum counts with 36 of Fabelo´s pieces in its collection at present. Some of Fabelo´s pieces can be found in private collections in 37 countries, and in numerous institutional collections in different parts of the world. Moreover, this artist has illustrated discs of important singers like Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés, who dedicated him a song.
Dominguez is a painter, drawer, illustrator, sculptor, printer and ceramist. He, at the age of 70, is one of the iconic personalities of plastic arts in Cuba. He has more than a hundred personal expositions and participations in collective shows. Some of his work is in private collections of personalities like the Queen of Holland, the movie maker Steven Spielberg and the famous actor Robert Redford. In 2009, he obtained the National Prize of Plastic Arts.
He has his personal gallery at 166, Los Oficios Street, Historical Center of Old Havana. Not a few people consider he is among the best Cuban painters of all times. About this Dominguez has said: “if it were so, which is not a consideration of mine, I would not put myself in any place. I do not mind about places, but I think that to be an artist is a personal responsibility one takes and it implies many sacrifices.
The artist´s life is not only in front of his work, but also of himself, and the people expects much from one, there is a commitment of not defrauding the people, and above all, not defrauding oneself. Each painter has its own life project, but his life is just part of his work. My maxim is and has always been the doubt, which is what motivates me to look for new doubts.”
Related article: Five Arts Galleries you Should Visit in Havana
PEDRO PABLO OLIVA
This prestigious artist, National Awarded on Plastic Arts (2006), has exhibited his art in more than twenty personal shows and hundreds of collective shows in galleries, biennales, and arts fairs, among other events. According to his personal website, a large number of his works have come to be at present part of public and private collections.
Considering his role as teacher of different generations of young artists, Oliva has been appointed as Associate Professor by the Higher Art Institute (I.S.A.) in Havana and given the “Maestro de Juventudes” Prize (Teacher of Youths)(2007), awarded by the society of young artists Hermanos Saiz Association. In 1991 he became the first alive Cuban artist in exhibiting in New York after 1959. Two years later, his work entered the circuit of the most important auctioneer houses like Christie´s and Sotheby´s.
Alexis Leyva Machado is a painter, sculptor, installer, printer, performance artist and curator. He is known, in the world of arts, as Kcho. He is one of the most famous painters at the moment. According to writer and arts critic Rosa Lowinger, in an article issued in Artnews magazine, Kcho is known as the Cuban artist with biggest international prestige after Wifredo Lam. In the last ten years, his poetic, and sometimes nostalgic, works, have been exhibited in more than 50 collective shows and biennales around the world, and in 15 personal shows, in places like Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles (1997), the Jeu de Paume in Paris (1998), and the Crystal Palace of Queen Sofía (2000).
“To forget”, an installation made up by a row boat on top of a bunch of empty and half-empty beer bottles won the big prize of $50,000 at Kwangju biennale, in South Korea, in 1995. The first time the artist exhibited in the USA was in New York, in 1996, at Barbara Gladstone gallery (…) His works are sold to the prices of $4,000 for one painting and $75,000 for big sculptures. Many of his works belong to collections of important museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Belles Arts in Havana.”
In 2014, Kcho inaugurated the expo “Via Crucis” in the Palace of Foreign Ministry in the Vatican, in Rome, and in that way he became the first Cuban in showing there. Later, in 2015, his artwork “Milagro” (Miracle) was awarded to the Pope Francisco by Raúl Castro, during his visit to Cuba..
Garaicoa is one of the most renowned and influential Cuban visual artists of the last two decades. His works have been exposed in collections like those of MOMA and the Guggenheim in New York; the Tate Modern of London and the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid. He has recognized in his personal website the use of several means like photography, performance, sculpture, installation, texts and videos to comment about the Cuban reality, departing from the traces on buildings left by the economic and cultural crisis.