May 182010


This painting, “Calle Martiro” (Calle Mártires) is by Cuban artist Reinaldo Pagan Avila from 1999.   “Calle Martiro” ((Calle Mártires) or Street of Martyrs might be found somewhere in Cuba.  A naked Christ-like figure is martyred upon a dying tree  – as convenient as anything for a Crucifixion.  His body speared, his hands and feet tied, his suffering might be the suffering of Cuba for what seems like an eternity.  The suffering did not begin in 1959.  It began long before that date for what seems like an eternity to some.

Cuban art, like Cuban music has burst to the forefront of the cultural scene in recent years. Partly due to an increase in tourism and an opening up of Cuban society, young Cuban artists are emerging from years of anonymity. Since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, a flourishing art scene has emerged on the island, due to full governmental support to the arts and culture of Cuba.

With a strong Cuban cultural tradition mixed with Spanish and African influences, an excellent educational system and over 40 years of struggling economic existence, a Cuban style of art has emerged. Modern Cuban art is a conglomerate of these influences, the political, the traditional, the theatrical, the sensuous and the humorous.

One can never forget that in spite of the Cuban people’s daily struggle to survive, they have always maintained a sense of humor throughout.  And the artists have continued to produce works of art even though they have suffered shortages of the basic necessities of life as well as paint brushes, paint and canvass.

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