This year the Cuban graphic designer José Alberto Menéndez Sigarroa, known as Pepe Menéndez, was presented with the Eduardo Muñoz Bachs 2019 National Graphic Design Award granted by the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) for his notable and sustained contribution to design on the island.
The UNEAC judges, chaired by Jorge Rodríguez Bermúdez and composed of Ricardo Rafael Villares and Sara Vega, highlighted Pepe’s performance “in the renovation of design at the Casa de las Americas” (the cultural institution in Havana) and “the integrality of his work that includes posters, editorial design and management of projects related to the national graphic design field”.
Graduated from the Higher Institute of Industrial Design in Havana in 1989, the artist has built a consistently creative career in both posters and book design and his work has been recognized with numerous awards including: the Book Design Award 2017; the Coral Award for Film Poster design at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema 2015; and the UNEAC Caja Alta Award 2013. Since 1999, he has been the Director of Design for the Casa de las Americas, an institution that celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
At the same time, Pepe has carried out significant research work documented in the books ‘Enrique García Cabrera’ (Madrid, 2016, written together with Olimpia Sigarroa) and ‘El cartel de la Revolución’ (Valencia, 2018, together with Damián Viñuela). He is also the author of the essay ‘Notes for a chronology of graphic design in Cuba’, published in the collective work ‘History of graphic design in Latin America’ (Blücher, Sao Paulo, 2008).
He has been invited to give numerous workshops and conferences on Cuban graphic design in universities and specialized centres in Cuba, Switzerland, Italy, Ecuador, France, Holland, United States, Mexico, Germany, Canada, South Korea and Japan, and to offer his critical opinion as a judge in design competitions.
The curatorship of numerous exhibitions completes his career. Among the most recent and relevant include ‘Screams on the wall: Milestones of the Cuban poster’ 1959 – 2012 (National Museum of Fine Arts, 2013, together with Liana Ríos) and ‘History of a Harakiri’ (36th Festival of New Latin American Cinema, 2014). ‘Cuban graphics 1990 – 2000’ (Wifredo Lam Contemporary Art Centre, 2001) and ‘Cuba Gráfica: A vision of Cuban graphic design’ (Casa de las Américas, 2007). He has twice won the National End of Century Curation Award for Design.
The Eduardo Muñoz Bachs Prize, sponsored by the Association of Visual Artists of UNEAC since 2004, has now named Pepe Menéndez one of the most important Cuban designers of the twentieth century.