The Cuban illustrator, painter, and cartoonist Arístides Hernández (Ares) in December received the 2020 National Comedy Prize, shared with the comedy performer Juana Bacallao.
In the opinion of the jury, Ares was chosen due to his vast work, “always peppered with humour”, and constitutes an individual recognition for his work in this genre of art.
The decision was made by several specialists in performing arts such as Osvaldo Doimeadiós, Pedro Méndez, Luis Enríquez (Kike) Quiñones, Víctor Pagola, Luis Alexis Pérez Mora, Omar Franco, Maikel Cerralvo, Carlos Fundora and Rafael Pérez-Malo.
For the this year’s award, Ulises Toirac, Francisco Blanco (Blanquito), Ángel García Mesa (Antolín), Mario Aguirre, Cirita Santana, Carmita Ruiz, Eduardo del Llano and Jorge Losada were also nominated.
Hernandez learned cartooning skills during his study at a medical school in Havana. He continued to hone his craft while working as a rural doctor in Cuba’s Sierra del Purial mountain range, some 900 km away from Havana, and as a psychiatrist at a hospital in the capital.
His cartoons have gained a following among locals who read his daily comic strips published by Cuban daily newspaper Juventud Rebelde.
In the last year Ares has produced cartoons praising the work Cuban health workers during the pandemic. “I think cartoons can help explain the coronavirus pandemic and raise awareness about the necessity to maintain social distancing,” said Hernandez, when he received the Grand Prize of the UYACC 2020 International Anticoronavirus Contest, held in China in June 2020. “Psychiatry and cartooning have many things in common, because they are related to people’s thinking, something that concerns me deeply,” he added.
His work also appears in specialist magazines of graphic humour, and shared and discussed on courses and at conferences on graphic humour in various countries.
To view examples of Ares’s work see http://areshumour.com/
Meanwhile, the joint winner of the award Juana Bacallao (Neris Amelia Martínez Salazar) has become an icon of popular culture on the island and nicknamed the Black Goddess of Cuban cabaret, for her unique character and spontaneity. Her art of bombastic gestures and extravagant wardrobe, together with her interpretation of songs with burlesque and tragic lyrics have made her authentic and in demand.