New generation of Cuban visual artists chronicle their times

Through photography and painting, both creators discourse on human relations and suggest questioning glances at different themes of immediate reality and its circumstances. The versatility of their artistic contributions – supported by self-teaching – and interest in putting viewers in an active position facing the social landscape they're immersed in, become essential elements for approaching these young individuals' work.

Naïf Art from Marginality

Aggressive, violent, crude, challenging… So the young artist Pedro Pablo Bacallao's showcase reveals itself to the viewer. Already from the title – Niño con trauma mira fijo al cielo y sonríe (Boy with Trauma Stares at the Sky and Smiles), the theme of child abuse, a recurrent leitmotiv in several works making up the exhibition, is explicitly introduced.

In opposition to a significant sector of contemporary creators, Bacallao's contribution renounces practicing a complex or ambiguous conceptual art that may lead to infinite interpretations. His clear, simple and direct message doesn't allow space for doubt: pain, violence, drug addiction, death, prostitution are topics that challenge and look for, not the delight of those who appreciate them in each painting, but awareness and mobilization in the face of social evils that lacerate our present and endanger our future.

"My artistic activity is centered in social critique. I pursue the objective of revealing problems that, in one way or another, have become daily issues for people, to the point of getting used to their presence. I try to change the attitude that many have of sitting and waiting for things to be solved; I try to make people unite to try to solve all the problems that today affect our daily life and that could influence future generations negatively. We are, in some form, the reference for children, and if we do not improve our present, the future will be lost," the young painter expresses.

That's why he finds inspiration in his neighborhood, in situations he lives and sees daily. And therefore he considers the title of this solo show as a self-portrait that combines the visual image with the written text. "In some pieces I combine both languages with the purpose of granting more force to the idea. They're phrases I hear people say in the street and introduce into my work to give greater forcefulness to the message I want to transmit."

The exhibition pays tribute to artists Samuel Feijóo and Jean Dubuffet. According to its curator, Magdalena Rivas, Pedro Pablo's work as chronicler of his environment and times has much in common with that of Jean-Michel Basquiat, despite that in the early years of his artistic career Pedro Pablo was not familiar with the creations of the U.S. painter and graphic artist.

"The present showcase encompasses twenty-one pieces on canvas and paperboard, plus four mural paintings illustrating the most vulnerable zones of the social network where we see the youngest involved. The artist appropriates children's drawings as a primary resource, with a rustic, uninhibited style and makes use of a subtle irony and sarcasm to reinterpret a wide repertory of marginal scenes," Rivas declares.

Pedro Pablo Bacallao began his life in art in 2005 and had his first exhibition with the community Group Corasón i Uebo in Havana's La Güinera neighborhood. His work has centered on the problems of Cuban marginality. In opposition, he turns to an innocent esthetic to reflect the harshness of his themes.

He works with diverse supports and formats. Availing himself of mixed technique, he makes use, as he says, "of everything at hand:" canvas, pastels, glued papers, paperboard, graphite, charcoal, pen, even pigments of some medicines. He's worked with collage, painting and drawing. The use of dissimilar materials gives him freedom to create images fluently in order to represent reality the way he sees it. Among his most immediate projects are two exhibitions: one in the United States and the other in France.

Portraits of "Happiness"

Photographer and audiovisual filmmaker Claudia Corrales defines her third solo show, entitled La píldora de la felicidad (Pillbox of Happiness) as a call of alarm about the obsession a part of modern society suffers about achieving the perfect human prototype. This prototype follows, almost inexorably, the road of beauty.

"The showcase focuses on contemporary society that tries to find and follow a canon or parameter of beauty established by the cultural industry. However, in search of certain perfection from the physical point of view, sometimes what one constructs is a great lie; you show someone you're not, and don't succeed in being happy. In the end, you risk your own life and identity for an outcome that's not worth it," comments the young artist.

The exhibit consists of two installations, a video art film, photo documentation, three digital print photos in black and white and four in color. For Claudia, the concept entailed the exploration of esthetic and conceptual premises she had not previously handled in her work.

"I initially made digital black and white photos, particularly linked to nudes and domestic violence. This is the first time I go into color photography and deal with a theme where not only the form but also the themes are important," she explains.

Her foray into the art of photography began autodidactically three years ago, motivated by a vocation that has a grip on the stamp of her own family. Their significance in the field of creation is due essentially to the outstanding work of her paternal grandfather, photographer Raúl Corrales (1925-2006), contributor to the magazines Carteles and Bohemia, the daily Hoy, and the photographer accompanying Fidel Castro, historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, from 1959 to 1961.

Having graduated in Social Communication last year, Claudia Corrales has also made good use of the possibilities of the documentary and the music video as mediums of expression, and has found in them points of contact that she combines with digital photography. Perhaps for that reason La píldora de la felicidad is a suggestive combination of forms and content, undeniable result of a creative arsenal where many readings are still to be explored.

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