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The Kennedy Center

Starting May 9

Artists and their work

Throughout Artes de Cuba, the Kennedy Center will be host to installations by Cuban and Cuban-American artists. Starting May 9, all of these exhibits are free, require no ticket, and are available to visit daily starting at 10 a.m. until the building closes.

Artist Roberto Diago
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Roberto Diago
Permanent History (2017)

Atrium

Roberto Diago is internationally renowned for exquisite, achingly beautiful works that take an unflinching look at the suffering of black populations. Born in Havana in 1971, he grew up in a poor neighborhood but was exposed to the arts from an early age. Diago studied at the prestigious San Alejandro Academy and by age 26 was selected for the highly competitive Venice Biennale. His career has soared since, with national and international exhibitions and awards; today, he is the most commercially successful artist in Cuba. Created for the festival, Permanent History is a cluster of small, simple houses suggesting Marianao, the working-class Havana neighborhood where he grew up.

Art installation by Roberto Fabelo
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Roberto Fabelo
Mundos / Worlds (2005-2018)
Torres / Towers (2005-2018)
Ronda Infinita / Endless Rounds (2015)
Cafedral (2017)

Hall of Nations

Internationally recognized as one of Cuba’s leading artists, Roberto Fabelo was born in Guáimaro in 1951. Painter, sculptor, and illustrator, he is a member of “the generation of sure hope” that emerged in the 1980s and is credited with reinvigorating the country’s creative environment. With Mundos, accumulations in the shape of the Earth are Fabelo’s commentary on urgent problems facing society today. Stacks of everyday cookware in Torres suggest that assuring man’s daily sustenance is a towering achievement. In Ronda Infinita, figures walking along the rim of a cauldron evoke man’s ongoing struggle for survival. With Cafedral, coffee pots erected into a cathedral position the beverage as a symbol of cultural identity.

Artist Manuel Mendive
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Manuel Mendive
La Naturaleza, El Espíritu, y El Hombre / Nature, Spirit, and Man (2018)
Fragmento de Paisaje / Fragment of a Landscape (2017)

Hall of States

One of Cuba’s most revered living artists, 74-year-old Manuel Mendive is perhaps the most important Afro-Cuban artist to ever emerge from Cuba. Mendive works across media—including paint, wood, and organic matter—to create art that is strongly influenced by the Santería religion, expressing ways in which African heritage has shaped his country’s national identity and culture. Fragmento de Paisaje is a series of dreamscapes where people, animals, plants, and clouds morph into one another, reflecting his vision of the universe as one. Commissioned for the festival, La Naturaleza, El Espíritu, y El Hombre represents a new artistic direction for Mendive, who has crafted three-dimensional sculptures that may be experienced from both the interior and exterior.

Art by Jose Parla
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José Parlá
Poly-Ritmó / Polyrhythm (2018)

North Atrium Foyer

Born in Miami, Florida, to Cuban immigrants, José Parlá is a critically acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist whose oeuvre spans painting, large-scale murals, photography, video, and sculpture. For Artes de Cuba, Parlá will present an installation combining paintings and sculptural works that evoke the different rhythms of Cuba and the United States. Nuevo Rumbo (2015) is a landscape painting filled with hope; it evokes post-colonial history, Cuba’s independence in 1902, and the 1959 revolution. Amistad América (Modelo) (2018) is the artist’s commentary on the shared history between the two nations—slavery, immigration, civil rights. The five “sculptural paintings” are made of wood and fabric, layered with paint and bits of billboards. These fragments stand as “archaeological vestiges” of places that are of personal significance to Parlá.

Emilio Perez
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Emilio Perez
Sombras Silvestres / Wild Shadows (2018)

States Gallery

Emilio Perez, 45, was born in New York City to parents who had emigrated from Cuba. Raised in Miami, the artist attended New York’s Pratt Institute and the University of Florida’s New World School of the Arts, and has become known for his large-format, abstract paintings. In November 2016, he débuted Dream Season at Times Square’s Midnight Moment, the world’s largest digital art exhibition. Sombras Silvestres, Perez’s second experiment in digital art, is a site-specific, multi-channel video installation that merges photos and artwork he made in Havana with architectural surfaces to create animated paintings set to a score by Andrew Yeomanson, aka DJ Le Spam. This immersive journey welcomes the viewer into Perez’s vision of the land of his parents—a place he has never lived but whose colors, sounds, passion, and essence feel like home.

Designs by Celia Ledon
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Celia Ledón
The Art of Celia Ledón

Atrium

Recycling and repurposing are something of a national sport in Cuba, but 34-year-old Celia Ledón has raised these activities to an art form. Ledón earned degrees in industrial design and art direction from the Polytechnic Institute of Industrial Design and also studied costume design. Her show-stopping creations have graced haute couture runways, theater stages, and art films. She admits to being “obsessed with trash,” especially items that have become obsolete in our fast-moving consumer society. In her hands, discarded videotapes, pop-top rings, plastic bags, and rubber tires are given new life as dramatic outfits. This installation features 11 costume art pieces by Ledón, including a work commissioned for Artes de Cuba.

Esterio Segura's 'Hybrid of a Chrysler'.
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Esterio Segura
Hybrid of a Chrysler (2018)

River Terrace (outside)

Cuban-born Esterio Segura is a graduate of Havana’s prestigious Instituto Superior de Arte. He uses humorous imagery to address socially and politically charged themes from Cuban history. Different manifestations of winged animals and machines, airplanes, and submarines appear in his work—all symbols of attempts to reconcile issues of isolation, freedom, death, immigration, and exile. Hybrid of a Chrysler, enthusiastically received at the 57th Venice Biennale, is characteristic of his witty oeuvre: The artist fashioned airplane wings out of metal and attached them to an original 1953 Chrysler, typical of the almendrones (vintage American cars driven as taxis) so common on the island. From the collection of Susie and Mitchell Rice.

Cuban Slugger
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Reynerio Tamayo
Cuban Slugger

South Gallery

Cuban artist Reynerio Tamayo is known for combining technical virtuosity with a sense of humor in his art. Born in Niquero, Cuba, he studied at Havana’s National Visual Arts School and Higher Institute of Art. Cubans immediately recognize his works, which chronicle daily life and popular customs with his trademark irony and incisive observations. Cuban Slugger is a series of reproductions of canvases and works on wood that, in typical Tamayo fashion, cheerfully borrows from popular culture and centuries of art—Babe Ruth joins Van Gogh in a starry night, for example, and legendary pitcher Martín Dihigo is featured on the label of “Immortal” Cuban rum.

Artes de Cuba: From the island to the world
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Various Artists
Cuban Film Posters: A Retrospective

Atrium

Organized by the Cuban Film Library, this exhibition showcases 28 silkscreen posters from the archives of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). Cuba’s particular circumstances shaped the unique history of its poster art. Shortages often spurred creativity: When some paints weren’t available, designers developed bold, graphic styles using only one or two colors. Another distinguishing feature is their lack of commercialism—films were free, so movie posters didn’t have to “sell” anything. The posters on view here were selected because they embody the eclectic style, strong graphic impact, and effective communication that are the hallmarks of Cuban poster art. They also represent some of the greatest Cuban designers of the past 60 years..

Artes de Cuba: From the island to the world
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Various Artists
World Premiere Artes de Cuba Posters by Cuban Art Designers

Atrium

While planning Artes de Cuba, the Kennedy Center decided to invite a group of designers to create posters for the festival, a gesture that would recognize the country’s rich heritage of poster art. In partnership with CartelON (a project aimed at preserving and sustaining traditional silkscreen design techniques in Cuban poster design) the Center commissioned 12 posters selected from entries submitted by more than 200 designers and students. The finalists have all previously participated in CartelON contests, and some are recognized as being among the best designers on the island today. Together they present exciting and diverse visions of this festival’s theme while also giving visitors an inside look at Cuba’s thriving graphic arts scene.

Artes de Cuba: From the island to the world
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¡Cuba!
Collaboration with American Natural History Museum, New York

Nations Gallery

Located just 94 miles from Florida’s shores, Cuba is an archipelago of more than 4,000 islands and keys, the largest island nation in the Caribbean and one of the region’s most ecologically diverse countries. The country’s exceptional biodiversity and cultural richness are explored in special displays adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History in close collaboration with scientists at the Cuban National Museum of Natural History. Families may enjoy coloring animals; learn about Cuba’s geologic history; get an up-close look at indigenous birds, snails, and butterflies; play Cuban wildlife games on iPads; peruse maps featuring Cuba’s national parks and baseball teams; play dominos; and more.

 

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