Flowers, Lies and Revolution: Contemporary Cuban Art
Date(s): May 21, 2010 thru July 18, 2010
This exhibition examines the intersection between personal and national histories in post-revolutionary Cuba.
The words “flowers” and “lies” in the title allude to the duality that many Cubans experience in their lives. Flowers may symbolize the idealized beauty and natural splendor of the island—a lure the island retains for outsiders. Flowers also symbolize the hope of a new society, an expectation of growth and health—a blossoming. Political realities, however, tend to mitigate hope and idealism; they give the lie to false or exaggerated expectations.
The emphasis on the art in the exhibition is on contemporary aesthetic and conceptual issues, representational strategies, self-reflection, and commentary on life in Cuba.
The historical duality is symbolized in Lidzie Alvisa’s sunflower print titled Girasoles de Van Gogh. The Dutch artist famously mutilated himself for an ideal—an art historical reference with political relevance to Cuban politics. The sunflowers also offer a memento mori to the life of ideals—prompting another set of dualities: objects fresh and decaying, soft and hardening, healthy and injured, youthful and declining.
Two other female artists popular in Cuba, Sandra Ramos and Aimee Garcia, create work from personal standpoints by inserting themselves into their art. For Ramos this takes on the form of a young, Alice in Wonderland–like character. Her work explores themes of loneliness, migration, and the manipulation of history. Garcia, also interested in history and popular culture, extends these explorations to questions of gender. She incorporates her own likeness to create a stoic and mysterious figure. Both artists grapple with concerns such as the relationship between personal freedom and political power.
Also interested in the intersection between personal and national histories is Duvier del Dago. His drawings express ideas of desire and utopia, as seen in his series metaphorically titled Teoria y practica. Other important artists include Kacho, Los Carpinteros Atelier Morales, and José Bedia, among others. Significant works from the Sheldon permanent collection include art by Ana Menieta and photography by Abelardo Morell and Enrique Martinez Celaya.To see images of some artworks on view, please click: Flowers, Lies and Revolution: Contemporary Cuban Art slideshow
This exhibition is made possible by generous loans from three private collections in Lincoln. We are indebted to the collecting vision of Kathy and Marc LeBaron, Karen and Robert Duncan, and Lisa and Tom Smith. Also included are six works on loan from the Nina Menocal Gallery in Mexico City.