MADE IN CUBA! / HECHO EN CUBA! Recycling Memory & Culture
A POP UP SHOW
OPENING RECEPTIONS: Saturday, October 17th , 6 to 9 pm & Sunday, October 18th Noon to 6 pm
Arena 1 Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of MADE IN CUBA!/HECHO EN CUBA! Recycling Memory and Culture, an audacious pop-up show of more than seventy mixed media works by some of Cuba’s leading artists. Opening receptions on Saturday October 17th and Sunday, October 18th are in conjunction with Santa Monica Art Studios’ 11th Open Studios celebrations.
Much of the art in this exhibition incorporates recycled and found materials, an aesthetic summed up by internationally renowned Cuban artist Roberto Diago this way: “During the economic crisis, we didn’t have the materials you need to paint like we were taught in school, so we adapted our art to what we could find.” He and other artists discovered that this experience in the ‘90s changed their art for the better, broadening their vision in the use not only of new “found” materials, but also new concepts.
According to curator Sandra Levinson, the generation of Cuban artists, presented in MADE IN CUBA!, “is the most educated, most worldly, and probably most recognized ever. In Cuba, they are superstars.”
Levinson is director of the Center for Cuban Studies’ Cuban Art Space in New York. The Center, which opened its gallery in 1999, was the first to exhibit and sell post-revolutionary art exclusively. At Levinson’s initiative, a successful suit was brought against the US Treasury Department in 1991 which made it legal to import and sell original Cuban art despite the US trade embargo. She has traveled to Cuba more than 300 times, building strong relationships with talented artists in all fields. MADE IN CUBA! is the largest and most wide-ranging exhibit of Cuban art ever presented in Southern California.
Levinson, and artist Kadir López, who will be coming from Cuba for the opening, are available for interviews and media appearances.
Included in the exhibition are:
KADIR LÓPEZ: López’s work is owned by the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the Richard Guggenheim Collection, Art Nexus Collection, Bogota Columbia, and Arizona State University Art Museum, among others. Private collectors include Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith who recently visited López’s Havana home/studio where they acquired “Coca Cola-Galiano,” an 8 x 4 foot Coke sign on which López superimposed a 1950s photo of a bustling Havana street. The work is typical of López’s approach, which often repurposes porcelain-lacquered advertising signs overlaid with black and white photos of historical and current events, creating a rich meditation on time.
MANUEL MENDIVE: Mendive, whose work appears in museums and private collections around the globe, is one of the most important living Cuban artists. A practitioner of the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion, Mendive’s art incorporates humans, animals and spirit-like figures in painting, sculpture, body painting, installations, performance art, and video. NYU Fine Arts professor Edward Sullivan calls Mendive’s work “daring, rebellious, unconventional and brave.” Among the numerous collections that own work by Mendive are the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington and the Musee D’Art Moderne Del Ville in Paris. The French Ministry of Culture awarded Mendive the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres.
ROBERTO DIAGO: Diago is one of the most internationally acclaimed Cuban artists. His early juxtapositions of text and image have been compared to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Ed Ruscha, whom he names among his influences. Much of his work employs found materials; and his more recent work is increasingly abstract and minimalist, though still concerned with slavery and his own roots. When Diago creates images of black faces, they are often without mouths, reflecting his view that Afro-Cubans still have less power than whites. Diago’s work is included in collections of Galeria Guislan Etats D’Art in Paris, Cernuda Art in Miami, and PanAmerican Art Gallery in Texas.
MABEL POBLET: The 29-year old Poblet is one of the most exciting artists emerging in Cuba. She was introduced in the US by Sandra Levinson in a 2006 show at the Cuban Art Space in New York. A graduate of the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Poblet has become a major figure in the contemporary Cuban art scene. Her work, which is self-referential, ranges from photography, video and installations to a reinterpretation of pop and kinetic art. She has exhibited in Japan, France, Portugal, Spain, Columbia, and Peru, as well as the U.S. Her work is in the collections of the Contemporary Art Museum of Tampa, the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami, and the Brownstone Foundation in Paris, among others.
Also exhibiting will be Abel Barroso, Sandra Ceballos, Choco (Eduardo Roca), Aimée García, Ernesto Javier Fernández, Alberto Lescay, Joel Jover, William Perez, Ernesto Rancańo, Adrian Rumbaut, and younger emerging artists such as Dagoberto Driggs Dumois, Hector Frank, Marlys Fuego, and Carlos César Román.
During its 5-week run, MADE IN CUBA! will also feature screenings of Cuban films and book signings. MADE IN CUBA! is the first endeavor of Cuban Art Space West and is made possible through a collaboration with Arena1 Gallery, a project of Santa Monica Art Studios founded by Yossi Govrin and Sherry Frumkin.
For press inquiries, images, and interview/media requests, contact:
Santa Monica Art Studios 310-397-7449 or email
For general information contact: Miles Mogulescu at (310)230-7422/cubanartwest.com, or Sandra Levinson at (212)242-0559 firstname.lastname@example.org.