NCO Creative Cuban Artists

  • Fidelio Ponce de León (1895 - 1949)

    Fidelio Ponce de León (1895 - 1949)
    – Fidelio Ponce de León was the pseudonym of Alfredo Fuentes Pons. Alfredo, unlike many other Cuban artists did not study art in Europe, and therefore he had little experience with European modernism.
    – Alfredo’s paintings are known for depicting Cuban society. However, he did not attempt to idealise or ‘brush over’ some of the negative aspects of the society. In contrast, he focused on those aspects. He is renowned for his depictions of poverty, sickness and alienation.
  • Peláez, Amelia (1896 - 1968)

    Peláez, Amelia (1896 - 1968)
    – Painter belonging to the Avant-garde generation.
    – Entered the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes "San Alejandro".
    – Received several government grants, allowing her to travel across the world refining her skills as an artist - This is how the artist became famous.
    – Peláez’s artwork is often attributed with having a baroque style, evoking themes of calmness and growth.
    – In Cuba she is known for painting many murals, mainly located within schools.
  • Víctor Manuel (1897 - 1969)

    Víctor Manuel (1897 - 1969)
    – An artist who was of the first to establish the style and depiction of European modern art mixed with Cuban primitivism
    – Manuel attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes "San Alejandro" at the age of twelve.
    – Manuel was exposed to modernist trends of painting when he studied in France in 1925. It was after this point that his work began to be featured prominently in a number of exhibitions.
  • Wilfredo Lam (1902 - 1982)

    Wilfredo Lam (1902 - 1982)
    – Known for portraying and reviving the Afro-Cuban culture that is sometimes forgotten. Lam created a very unique style that was both abstract and figurative.
    – Lam is of mixed-race ancestry - his mother was the daughter of a Congolese former slave mother.
    – Lam furthered his studies in art when he moved to Madrid in 1923. There, he was discovered as an up and coming artist.
    – Lam’s work was largely influenced by surrealism and cubism - Picasso had a particular impact on his work.
  • Antonio Gattorno (1904 - 1980)

    Antonio Gattorno (1904 - 1980)
    – Gattorno was part of the generation of modern Cuban painters.
    – Gattorno studied art at San Alejandro academy and received a scholarship which allowed him to travel across Europe which is where he encountered mannerism and social realism.
    – Gattorno is known for depicting Cuban society in an accurate fashion, showcasing the Cuban peasants, the environment and the general social condition at the time. He often contrasts his pieces, showing either impoverishment or idyllic scenes of nature.
  • René Portocarrero (1912 - 1985)

    René Portocarrero (1912 - 1985)
    – Received his artistic education at San Alejandro academy. However he left early and is consequently considered to be a self-taught artist.
    – Portocarrero gave his first show in New York after having travelled through Haiti, Europe and the United States.
    – As well as painting, Portocarrero worked with murals and ceramics. He was a professor at the Free Institute of Painting and Sculpture in 1939.
    – He is known for being a very spontaneous artist, never planning out his paintings.
  • Longa, Rita (1912 - 2000)

    Longa, Rita (1912 - 2000)
    – Very well-know for her small and large scale sculptures.
    – Longa's work has survived the test of time within Cuba, still being relevant today despite the many changes. This is particularly fascinating as Longa’s sculptures are known for being representations of the environment to which they belong.
    – Her modernist sculpture Shape, Space and Light (1953) is one of the most famous, being positioned at the main entrance of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana.
  • Carreño, Mario (1913 - 1999)

    Carreño, Mario (1913 - 1999)
    – Studied painting at the Academia de de San Alejandro in Havana, Cuba.
    – In Spain, he further refined his skills as an artist.
    – Attended both the Ecole des Arts appliqués and the Académie Julian in Paris, France.
    – Established himself as a prominent artist in Paris between 1937 and 1939. Worked in the same circles as Picasso and Lam.
    – Mario adopted an abstract style when moving to New York, a style which came to define much of his work.
  • Bermúdez, Cundo (1914 - 2008)

    Bermúdez, Cundo (1914 - 2008)
    – Attended both the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes "San Alejandro" and the Academy of San Carlos.
    – “I left Cuba absolutely disillusioned, perhaps because I had believed totally in the revolution. Between 1962 and 1967, the government obliterated me...Exile has affected the individual, not the artist. When the news came of Batista's coup d'etat in 1952, I returned home [from Europe] and dedicated myself full-time to painting.” - Cundo
    – Cundo views painting as a celebration of form and color.
  • José Bernal (1925 - 2010)

    José Bernal (1925 - 2010)
    – Much of Bernal’s artwork was focused around his Cuban origins and his exile. His pieces are best described as abstract, modernist and expressionist.
    – As a child, Bernal was privately tutored in art. Later when in America, he worked within a factory designing artist materials while also creating his own personal work.
    – In Cuba, Bernal’s work mainly consisted of monochrome blacks, greys and whites. However, when he moved to Chicago, his work became more brightly colored.
  • Cárdenas, Augustín (1927 - 2001)

    Cárdenas, Augustín (1927 - 2001)
    – Sculptor who was heavily active during the surrealist movement in Paris. In recognition of his activity, he was offered his first exhibition there.
    – Member of the artistic group, Los Once.
    – The group Los Once (The Eleven) is said to be the most famous association of Cuban abstract artists."
  • Fernandez, Augustin (1928 - 2006)

    Fernandez, Augustin (1928 - 2006)
    – Attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes "San Alejandro".
    – Awarded a scholarship by the ministry of education which allowed him to study painting across Europe.
    – “Around 1959, while in Paris, I began to make the images more concrete; later, I would start to use beige, or sober colors, white and black with earth tones.” - Augustin.
    – The years that Augustin spent outside of Cuba have allowed his work to become recognized internationally.
  • Espinosa, Viredo (1928 – 2012)

    Espinosa, Viredo (1928 – 2012)
    – Abstract Expressionist artist whose works include murals, engravings and paintings.
    – Vireo based much of his artwork wound his childhood interaction with Catholicism, Santeria rites, and Calabar ceremonies.
    – Member of the artistic group, Los Once.
    – During the time when the group came under attack for antigovernment sentiments,Espinosa went in to self-exile. It was later in Los Angeles that he found work as a commercial artist for department stores.
  • Consuegra, Hugo (1929 – 2003)

    Consuegra, Hugo (1929 – 2003)
    – Studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes "San Alejandro" in Havana and graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in architecture.
    – Member of the artistic group, Los Once
    –After the group disbanded, Consuegra became part of the post-revolutionary avant-garde movement.
    – Consuegra's paintings are generally praised for their personal qualities, appearing to penetrate into the inner personality.
  • Camacho, Jorge (1934 – 2011)

    Camacho, Jorge (1934 – 2011)
    – Known for his surrealist style of painting which he adopted in Paris.
    – Camacho and his friend, Carlos M. Luis (the founder of the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture) were well-versed in contemporary paintings
    – "Surrealism is, without a doubt, the most important poetic creation of the XX century, because it is a world open to enchantment.” – Camacho
    – Many of Comacho's paintings include haunting depictions of the ibijau, a bird he observed on a trip to Venezuela.
  • Luis Cruz Azaceta (1942 - )

    Luis Cruz Azaceta (1942 - )
    – Azaceta at a young age experienced the hardships and tragedies wrought upon the Cuban people by the Batista secret police and by the post revolution dictatorship. He witnessed execution, torture and in general the horrific mistreatment of the Cuban population.
    – Through his work, Azaceta intends to portray the terrible hardships encountered by the Cuban people. He focuses on themes of urban violence, personal isolation, hellish conditions of living and the oppression from dictatorship.
  • Tomás Sánchez (1948 - )

    Tomás Sánchez (1948 - )
    – In 1971, Sánchez graduated from the National School for the Arts which is known for being more contemporary than other schools. There he was a professor and chair of engraving
    – Sánchez has exhibited his art individually and with others in over 30 countries.
    – Sánchez is best recognized for his very detailed landscape paintings. However he also works in other mediums such as sculpture, photography and engraving. His works are often associated with being meditative.
  • Ana Mendieta (1948 - 1985)

    Ana Mendieta (1948 - 1985)
    – Mendieta was a performance artist, painter, sculptor and video artist. She arrived in the U.S. as a refugee after the rise of Fidel Castro. In consequence, Mendieta struggled with a lot of family separation.
    – Mendieta focused on her artwork mostly at the University of Iowa when being inspired by the avant-garde movement.
    – Mendieta’s work is known for being very autobiographical, being focused on themes of feminism, violence, identity, life, death, place and belonging.
  • Roberto Fabelo (1951 - )

    Roberto Fabelo (1951 - )
    – Received his education from The National Art School and the Superior Art Institute of Havana. He now exhibits his work around the world.
    – His work is mostly recognised for its inclusion of naked women who are given bird-like features. His most recent work however is focused around the distortion of the human figure as an exploration of the human psyche and the battle of good and evil.
  • Humberto Castro (1957 - )

    Humberto Castro (1957 - )
    – Studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes "San Alejandro" and at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba.
    – In 1989, he moved to Paris where he lived for ten years. There, he was very active in the Parisian intellectual scene, holding exhibitions not only there but across Europe. He now lives in the U.S.
    – His work is known for often being based around violence, originally inspired by the extermination of the aboriginal population of Cuba.
  • Alicia Leal (1957 - )

    Alicia Leal (1957 - )
    – Studied at the San Alejandro School of Fine Arts and quickly became recognised as a prominent young artist.
    – Leal’s work is most recognizable for its unique flat perspectives which are accompanied by detailed narratives and scenes. They are mostly focused around women and her own role as someone who provides refuge.
  • José Bedia Valdés (1959 - )

    José Bedia Valdés (1959 - )
    – Studied art at San Alejandro academy and complet his studies in art at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana.
    – Valdés, being mainly interested in the African roots of American culture, intends to depict these roots through his artwork. His work is often referred to as a form of storytelling which the artist calls ‘informative lessons’ that investigate ancestral cultures and the influences of pop culture. His paintings are also generally understood as critiques of colonialism.
  • Miguel Cerejido (1960 - )

    Miguel Cerejido (1960 - )
    – Studied art at San Alejandro academy and received a master’s degree in Fine Arts at the Instituto Superior de Arte. Cerejido was also an active member of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.
    – Cerejido is most interested in how art and music come together: “The nexus between Music and Painting and ways of pictorially representing sound and silence, have been the main subjects of my work as an artist since 1980.”
  • Enrique Martínez Celaya (1964 - )

    Enrique Martínez Celaya (1964 - )
    – Celaya’s family relocated to Madrid, Spain in 1972 and then to Puerto Rico in 1975. As a result lacked a sense of belonging. He later attended Cornell University where he studied physics and electrical engineering. It was later in his life that he discovered his passion for art, attaining an M.F.A from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
    – Celaya’s work in known for being an examination of one’s individual experience, particularly with relation to nature and time.
  • Carlos Garaicoa (1967 - )

    Carlos Garaicoa (1967 - )
    – Studied at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, moving on from his studies of thermodynamics towards his passion for architecture and art.
    – Through the use of architecture, Garaicoa explores themes of ruin and utopia. He also explores architecture as a form of art that has affected Cuban culture in many different realms including politics and economics.
    – Garaicoa now works in between Cuba and Madrid.
  • Belkis Ayón Manso (1967 - 1999)

    Belkis Ayón Manso (1967 - 1999)
    – Educated at San Alejandro Academy and received a Bachelor’s degree in Engraving at the Higher Institute of Art, Havana. She was an artist in residence at several schools in the U.S. including the Rhode Island School of Design.
    – Her work is known for being based on Afro-Cuban religion. The paintings often consisted of dark silhouettes, starkly contrasted by white ghostly figures, which are said to be a reflection of her inner feelings and thoughts.
  • Pedro Reinaldo Álvarez Castelló (1967 - 2004)

    Pedro Reinaldo Álvarez Castelló (1967 - 2004)
    – Studied art at San Alejandro academy in Havana, Cuba. He became a member of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, a group intended to maintain a genuine Cuban culture.
    – His paintings are known worldwide primarily for their focus on colonialism and the issues and concerns that surround it. In order to address this topic, Castelló utilised a juxtaposition of pop culture references and traditional Cuban images.
  • Armando Mariño (1968 - )

    Armando Mariño (1968 - )
    – Studied art at the Pedagogical Institute of Arts in Havana before attending the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.
    – Armando is very well-known mainly for his use of luminous colours in his landscapes and portraits. His work focuses on very pressing issues in today’s society such gender, race and human trafficking. As a result, his work is often cited as part of media reports on these social issues.
  • Tania Bruguera (1968 - )

    Tania Bruguera (1968 - )
    – Bruguera is a renowned installation and performance artist who is known for her focus on power and control.
    – One of Bruguera’s most famous pieces is one that explores the true story of indigenous Cuban people vowing to eat dirt instead of being the captives of the Spanish conquistadors.
    – Bruguera’s work is often described as an exploration of Cuban history both past and present. She is also known for having established a behavior art school in Cuba.
  • Carlos Estevez

    Carlos Estevez
    – Estevez studied at the San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts, and later at the Higher Institute of Art in Havana. He later completed several residences in Mexico, Brazil, USA and France.
    – Estevez’s main goal in his artwork is to explain the relationship between the universe and man. He exhibits his work internationally and work with several mediums in order to explore the Cuban social and political realities.
  • Glenda León (1976 - )

    Glenda León (1976 - )
    – Glenda’s is known for working with many different mediums such as drawing, video art, installations, objects and photography.
    – Studied at the Academy of Superior Art and New Medias in Cologne, Germany.
    – Glenda pushed the boundaries of contemporary art in Cuba, especially with her seemingly apparent inclusion of sound in her purely visual pieces. Aside from her exploring sound, Glenda is known to be very interested in the representation of nature in art.
  • Yoan Capote (1977 - )

    Yoan Capote (1977 - )
    – Studied at the National School of Art and the Higher Institute of Art in Havana. Capote has exhibited extensively outside of Cuba across the United States and Europe.
    – Capote’s Cuban heritage greatly influences his work through his exploration of topics such as migration. His sculptures are often regarded as provocative due to their manipulations of everyday objects which create dialogues between the viewer and Capote’s own psychological experiences.