The steady erosion of the United States embargo against Cuba, since 2009, has given hope to many there and abroad that normalization between the two countries is possible. On the island, opportunity, or the perception of it, are more plentiful than ever. Many Cubans are celebrating the potential bounty, hoping that electronic connectivity and open trade are now or soon will be within reach.
The educational system in Cuba has produced prolific and undeniable talent whose artwork is now being lauded by art critics, curators and collectors as the best-kept secret in the art market today. The process of passing on a lineage under the Cuban system of student to artist to professor is as persistent and durable as Cuban culture itself.
En Voz Alta “gives sudden voice to an easy coupling of artists,” according to Rachel Weingeist, the curator, who wanted to respond to “the emotions that Cuban artists are expressing – generated by the recent political shifts.”
Everyone wants to know what is next in Cuba’s future. Perhaps artist duo Meira Marrero and José Toirac’s tarot card deck, bound in leather of 24 cards, titledProfile, will shed light. This work is charged with symbols inspired by the iconic interview that resulted in One Hundred Hours with Fidel, the infamous tell-all in the words of the Revolutionary himself, published in 2006.
In this exhibition, as art often manifests, humor and the realities of daily routine are intertwined. All of the artists in this show are influenced by current and recent political events: Douglas Perez’s painting, December 17th in the White House, refers to President Obama’s announcing the restoration of a diplomatic relationship with Cuba, and we witness Michelle and Barack Obama dancing on a banquet table, dishes flying in celebration. Duvier del Dago, well known for his light and string drawings, positions a larger-than-life nude Cubana at a podium set in a futuristic public square, orating to a raucous and fictional crowd. María Magdalena Campos-Pons, revered for her sensual imagery, offers Unspeakable Sorrow, a ceremonial black-on-black portrait of despair, loss and abandonment, a howl, in which the flowering Amaryllis is the only trace of life or color.