Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Orleans, Cuba

" Si Cuba" is a succession of coordinated events taking place in New Orleans from January till March.

From art exhibits at the New OrleansMuseum of Art or local galleries, book discussions at local coffee shops, poetry readings, Cuban culture is present everywhere in New Orleans... or Cubans are speaking about the culture, the country they miss.

Today the New Orleans Museum of Art was hosting a special event to introduce ten new works from Luis Cruz Azaceta in its white marbled Great Hall.

On the second floor of the Museum, five artists living in Cuba were presented under the hospice of " Polaridad Complementaria: Recent Works From Cuba" with a painting from Douglas Perez Castro, a lace of highways over the shadow of a metropolis, was the cover of the invitation. Abel Barosso had one of his pieces, seen above and three photographers were also included. It was a very low key affair, and the visitor had to find his/her way through several rooms hosting permanent collections before discovering this special exhibit.

The main artist, Luis Cruz Azaceta migrated to the United States in 1960 at the age of 18, and for the past 17 years has been living in New Orleans. He is well known locally and his works have been displayed at several galleries in the Art District.

I find his technique and his message crude and cannot feel any emotion when looking at the aggressive colors combined with harsh lines. The paintings are flat panels with simple messages, clear, but at one level. The little personage trying to find his way out of the maze is the painter and stays the painter who cannot bring us beyond his personal history.

Upon leaving the Museum, I took a look back: thirty visitors all wearing black standing in the majestic white marble Great Hall. Lining the walls, out of place, were Azaceta's paintings. It struck me: like murals, they would bring color to some poor neighborhood in Cuba...but no hope.

bottom photograph from the Arthur Roger Gallery's website

top photograph is a reproduction from the catalog

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