Juan-Lázaro-Gutiérrez-in-his-studio

Cuban artist Juan Lazaro Gutierrez in his studio in Havana in the act of painting.

painting-by-cuban-artists-Juan-Lázaro-Gutiérrez

Painting by Juan Lazaro Gutierrez from a series of paintings of called “meditations.”

Juan-Lázaro-Gutiérrez-paintingThe walls of the studio of Juan Lazaro Gutierrez are adorned with his paintings and the works of the other artists who share this little studio. The studio is a large front room of another family’s house. Juan Lázaro is shown here as he stands at an easel, painting another of his works of art. A couple of his friends sat around. Music, always present, always filling the warm air and streets of Havana, was playing in the background somewhere.

The subjects of his paintings are the objects of daily life in Cuba, simple objects such as a chair, a piece of fruit or a bowl of fruit. Some paintings are abstracts, obscure subjects which evolve as a result of his daily meditation. Sometimes his paintings are portraits of dark mysterious women whose skin has been blessed by the sun. The unique colors of his paintings appeal, beautiful contrasts between colors. A woman, dark and golden from the sun, wears a brilliant blue sweater, adorned by a hat of tropical fruit.

Juan Lázaro was born in 1973 in the town of Manuel Lazo, Pinar del Río in western Cuba. He is a prolific Cuban artist and has held many art exhibitions within Cuba. His paintings have also been a part of Cuban art exhibitions abroad, in countries such as Peru, Canada and France.

Aug 032013
 

Without a doubt, books are not disappearing as everyone thought with the emergence of the Kindle. For lovers of Cuban art, there are a few worthy books published this year to add to your collection of books on Cuban art. Major works include some beautifully illustrated books on the works of the Cuban avant-garde artist Mario Carreño and an English-Spanish book Cuba: Arte Contemporáneo/Contemporary Art by art collectors, Andreas Winkler and Sebastiaan A. C. Berger.  There are no books more deserving than these, to be place in the collection of your coffee table books, an interesting grab for your guests.  Sure to ignite discussion.  Buy them all here at Amazon, shipped quickly to your home..

Mario Carreño book

A new book on the works of modern Cuban master Mario Carreño (b. 1913, Havana – 1999 – ( Mario Carreño – Selected Works |Obras Selectas | 1936 – 1957 is a work published by Jesús Fernández Torna, art historian, curator and art collector and published by the Prado Fine Art and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana. This new book was launched during the Havana Bienal at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Torna’s book depicts one of the most progressive stages of Mario Carreño’s career as an artist during his years in Cuba before he moved to Chile. It portrays his evolution as an artist and the importance of his place in the Cuban avant-garde art movement . Brilliant illustrations of the works of Carreño are in full color and essays contributed by Elsa Vega Dopico, Luz Merino Roberto Cobas Amate.

There is also a piece by the prestigious essayist and art critic Guy Pérez-Cisneros . The cover image features one of Carreño’s most important works of art, El Nacimiento de las Naciones Americanas (The Birth of the American Nations), painted in New York in 1940.

Another stunning bilingual publication on contemporary Cuban art is Cuba: Arte Contemporáneo/Contemporary Art by art collectors, Andreas Winkler and Sebastiaan A. C. Berger, a 228 page book with 500 color illustrations, an introduction by the authors and showcases the art of some 50 contemporary artists of Cuba. A Publishers Weekly review called it a “beautifully produced and stunningly diverse bilingual collection… It is rare that a collection of this breadth presents works of such a uniformly high standard that are so consistently provocative and experimental.”

Lovers of Cuban art and architecture will not want to miss out on this book:   “Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools” by John A. Loomis with a forward by Gerardo Mosquera, first published in 1999. This book, the updated edition is now available in paperback. John A. Loomis’  book takes a look at the state of art, architecture, culture and political ideology in the Cuba of the 1960s which is symbolized and collides together in the design of one of its greatest works of architecture, the  Escuelas Nacionals de Arte. Cuba’s most outstanding achievement in the world of architecture was to be the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte (National Art Schools) located just outside of Havana.  Read more about this book here.

Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art (English and Spanish Edition) is available in hardcover and also paperback. Edited by Alejandro de la Fuente, UCIS Research Professor of History and Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Mr. De la Fuente and Elio Rodríguez Valdés curated the exhibit, which was originally hosted at the Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art in Havana, Cuba, and transferred to the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Queloides is put together presented artistic works from the art exhibit itself, works illustrating the issue of the persistence of racism and racial discrimination in contemporary Cuba.Read more about the Queloides: Race and Racism in Contemporary Cuban art exhibit here on Ateneo Art Cuba.

 

Lovers of Cuban art and architecture will not want to miss out on this book:   “Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools” by John A. Loomis with a forward by Gerardo Mosquera, first published in 1999. This book, the updated edition is now available in paperback. John A. Loomis’  book takes a look at the state of art, architecture, culture and political ideology in the Cuba of the 1960s which is symbolized and collides together in the design of one of its greatest works of architecture, the  Escuelas Nacionals de Arte. Cuba’s most outstanding achievement in the world of architecture was to be the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte (National Art Schools) located just outside of Havana.

The idea for the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte was born over a game of golf at the Havana Country Club just outside of the city.  Fidel Castro and Che Guevara imagined a school located in the landscape of the golf course and discussed and made plans to build National Art School of Cuba on the grounds of the Club. Mid-construction the project was halted due to changing political ideology and subsequent lack of government funds available to continue with the building. What remained were half finished buildings, abandoned and left as an “Unfinished Spaces.” (See our article on the documentary on Unfinished Spaces (2011) here).

John A. Loomis’ book, first published in 1999, drew much attention to the sad tale of the unfinished, abandoned buildings.  With all the attention resulting from the book, the Cuban government committed to restoring the place. Since the abandonment of the building, the neglected Escuelas Nacionales de Arte had been badly flooded by the tributaries of a nearby river and overgrown with wild tropical vegetation.

Loomis’ study and photographs of the building takes a look at the abandoned buildings of the school in what has become known as “an eloquent symbol of an elusive utopian dream.” This book contains photographs by Loomis and a collection of archival photographs and plans of this fascinating architectural achievement. Little did Castro realize  when he halted the construction of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, that he was canceling one of the greatest architectural achievements that stands in Latin America today. As the Cuban revolution evolved, the idea of the large complex was seen as too elitist and decadent, no longer fitting into the ideology of the revolution. One of the architects was even thrown into jail because his ideas were seen as too anti-revolutionary.

The Escuelas Nacionales de Arte consists of open spaces and courtyards, colonnades,  extensive use of  Catalan vaulting and locally made brick and terracotta tiles. The American embargo made it necessary to use building materials made locally by craftsmen because steel and concrete were unavailable. The Escuelas Nacionales de Arte was to house five art schools in all, the School of Plastic Arts, the School of Modern Dance, the School of Ballet, the School of Music and the School of Dramatic Arts. Architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti  set forth to work on the design of this revolutionary idea.  Porro, Gottardi and Garatti, as well as many of the others involved in the project have contributed to Loomis’ historical documentation of this architectural wonder just outside of the city of Havana.

For art lovers, buy this magnificent book about the history of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte,  Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools by John A. Loomis from Amazon here:  Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools.
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Oct 212012
 
National Arts School, Havana

Photo: John Loomis, Source Wikipedia

It was 1961, over a game of golf at the Havana Country Club just outside of the city,  that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara discussed and made plans to build National Art School of Cuba on the grounds of the Club.  Building of the School began but was later abandoned because of a lack of government funding and the political climate.  The buildings still stand today and are regarded as an architectural marvel.

Unfinished Spaces (2011) is a film making the rounds of the international film festivals, documenting the dream of building a national arts school in Cuba.  This documentary explores the National Arts School project.   Castro invited three exiled architects, Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti who had originally worked on the project back to Cuba.  There were five schools in all, the School of Plastic Arts, the School of Modern Dance, the School of Ballet, the School of Music and the School  of  Dramatic Arts.  Porro, Gottardi and Garatti aimed to create a new architecture reflecting the Cuban revolution, taking into consideration the surrounding landscape of the golf course using  the constructive system of the Catalan vault.  Because of the American embargo which created a shortage of normally used building materials such as steel and concrete, brick and terracotta tile made locally and used in the creation.  The result was a most beautiful school of the arts of open spaces, curving colonnaded paths and imagination, later abandoned and becoming an “unfinished space.”

The international films festivals at the Venice Biennale, the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Miami International Film Festival have all run this spectacular film directed by Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias. Unfinished Spaces has won numerous international awards.

Unfinished Spaces shows footage of Castro speaking of his dream of building a center for the world of arts.  Classes began at the school but were later ceased.  Also, in the film, we learn of the struggles of the young architects in the planning and building of this radical architectural design which was later halted due to the political climate.  “It was a beautiful experiment,” said one of the architects.