Alexandre Arrechea was named Cuban Artist of the Year by the U.S.-based Farber Foundation at a ceremony in Old Havana. The award comes with a $10,000 prize.
Also honored were Celia Gonzalez Alvarez and Yunior Aguiar Perdomo for work that combines video and performance art. They received the Young Artist of the Year award and $3,000.
The recipients were chosen by curators, critics and scholars in Cuba and abroad.
Arrechea is an established artist whose work has been prominently displayed in the United States. A work called "No Limits" stretched along Park Avenue between 53rd and 67th streets in 2013, featuring outlandish towering steel and aluminum depictions of famous New York City landmarks.
Collector Howard Farber, who created the foundation with his wife, Patricia, said that he created the foundation and the award to promote Cuban art and that the organization was able to present it in the country, with the approval of island officials, because of the improving relations between the long-hostile nations.
President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro announced in December that their governments would move to restore diplomatic relations that were broken off in 1961. Officials from both countries have said in recent days that negotiations on plans to re-open embassies are nearly complete.
Arrechea's exhibition 'Map of Silence' is showing at the National Museum of Arts, Havana until October 2015.
More about the artist
A founding member (from 1991 through 2003) of the Cuban artist collective Los Carpinteros, the work of Alexandre Arrechea employs visual metaphors for ongoing social themes of inequality, cultural disenfranchisement, and the disputed position of art in a global, media driven society. Like many artists of his generation, he manipulates symbols and materials in an ambivalent manner, causing the viewer to leave the work with no specific point of view.
The prominence of surveillance systems and the accompanying obsession with control during our time has served as a key source for the work the artist began in 2003. Investigation into this issue led him to develop a production dealing with loss of privacy, fragility, memory, and the failure of control and power. Works such as "The Garden of Mistrust" (2003-2005) and "Perpetual Free Entrance" (2006) deal, to some degree, with troubles of accessibility or approach to works of art. At present his interest resides in the limits of the artwork itself. With that purpose in mind he created a particular installation for the last Havana Biennial. The work consists of a house of steel divided into eleven sections. The extension or separation between walls change daily, depending on the rise or fall of the Dow Jones index economy. Arrechea was born in Trinidad, Cuba in 1970. He graduated from the "Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA)" in Havana in 1994. His works are housed in museums and private collections throughout the world, including: MoMA (New York, USA); Pizzuti Collection (Columbus, USA); the Von Christierson Collection (London, UK); Kadist Art Foundation (San Francisco, USA); the Farber Collection (USA); CAB (Burgos, Spain); Museo del Barrio (New York, USA); CIFO (Miami, USA); Brooklyn Museum (New York, USA); Museo de Arte de Miami (Florida, USA); Ellipse Foundation (Lisbon, Portugal); San Diego Museum of Art (San Diego, USA); LACMA (Los Angeles, USA); the Martin Margulles Collection (Miami, USA); Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Havana, Cuba); ASU Art Museum (Arizona, USA); Museo Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Reina Sofia (Madrid, Spain); Daros Collection (Zurich, Swizerland); Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Foundation (Vienna, Austria); Cincinnati Museum of Contemporary Art (Cincinnati, USA); among others.