Lois Lambert Gallery presents “Straight From Cuba,” an exhibition of three Cuban artists she discovered while visiting the island two years ago: Alan Manuel Gonzalez,Darwin Estacio Martinez, and Luis Rodriquez NOA. The opening reception will take place on Saturday, May 16th from 6:00pm – 9:00pm and will run through July 11, 2015 at the Lois Lambert Gallery located in Bergamot Station at 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404.
Under current regulations, Cuban artists are required to forfeit half of their profits to the government, and must gain approval to show anywhere off the island. For galleries, especially in the United States, the chance to host multiple Cuban artists in a single show is extraordinary event. “Straight From Cuba” will make the most of this rare cultural opportunity by showcasing artists whose works embody the pluralistic mix of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences that are singular to Cuba. The creative coexistence of these motifs depict several generations, conceptual diversity, and varying techniques displaying an incredible range of national identity. The elements of the work in this exhibition embody Cuba’s socioeconomic, cultural, political, and ideological concerns while simultaneously capturing individual experience.
Alan Manuel González’s, “Contained Metaphors” is a series of hyper-realistic and symbolic paintings that reflect modern day Cuba. Gonzalez explores the hardships of life in his native country through landscapes, landmarks, and various scenes that appear to be trapped in translucent vessels.He says:
I paint where I live, I paint what surrounds me, I paint what I yearn for, and I paint for the common man, not in the stone walls with charcoal and blood but on canvas with paint, acrylic and mixed media.
Gonzalez’s process is thoughtful, reflective, and laborious; he spends days slaving over sketches, taking photos, and consulting with his peers before putting paint to canvas. The many layers of his paintings are evidence of painstaking work, a creative process he describes as “a brief agony.” The final product is a cathartic expression of Gonzalez’s discontent with the isolation of Cuba.
Darwin Estacio Martinez’s new body of work, “Paintings of their Kind,” explores the fragments and figures that compose a universally understood visual language. Martinez is interested in the multiple associations that can be assigned to the images he constructs. His paintings are deliberately open to interpretation. He uses the headless figures of men and women to abstract the human fixation on appearance. Martinez believes that in pursuing a method that emphasizes the generic, he can capture the fluid nature of self and transcend national identity. Martinez depicts a yearning for the ideal self through fragmenting the human form and leaving his scenarios inconclusive. In his own words, his,
…work is based on the search for pictorial possibilities from the standpoint of formal and conceptual painting.
Luis Rodríguez NOA describes the dynamics and characters of Havana in his own surrealistic language. His work displayed in “Island on the Move” is inspired by the beauty and lyricism encountered on long walks around Havana, juxtaposed by the absurdity of daily bustle. According to NOA,
It’s easy to become a surrealist in Cuba. All you have to do is go out into the street with paper and a pencil and copy all that you see.
NOA’s paintings depict those fleeting moments found in Cuban life through a colorful expression of comedy and tragedy. Because NOA is drawn to what he calls “the true expression of the subjective,” he does very little planning before painting. He makes compositional decisions with notable spontaneity, allowing his subjects to form organically.
If I had to summarize my work, I would call it a free expression of creativity and a meeting of the intuitive and rational. (My work) exists between the commonplace and fantastical.
Straight from Cuba
Opening Saturday, May 16th from 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Through July 11, 2015
Lois Lambert Gallery
2525 Michigan Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Alan Manuel González
Darwin Estacio Martinez
Luis Rodríguez NOA