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An Island Apart: Cuban Artists in Exile - Spring 2016

Information to support Spring 2016 Cuban visual and performing arts programming.

Spring Exhibitions

During Spring 2016, three exhibitions will feature works by a diverse group of prominent exiled Cuban artists, most of whom were born in the first years of the Cuban revolution and who were among the first generation to be educated in the new art schools. All are now U.S. citizens. Part of the "80s Generation" or the "Cuban Renaissance," they were one of the first cohorts to break with Cuban Socialist Realism and related official art styles of the time. Many were censored and blacklisted, and were later part of the largest political exodus of artists and intellectuals in recent Cuban history. Their actions eventually prompted the Cuban government to radically change policies, offering artists new travel freedoms and access to international art markets in order to keep them from choosing exile. The exhibitions will speak to how this historically linked group of exiled artists has undergone a process of reinvention and transculturation to become a powerful force in the American and international art scenes. Their works range in conceptual and material approaches - photography, mixed media, painting, video, performance - all of which will be represented in the exhibitions.

Frank Guiller

"Photography for-tells stories synonymous with our own primal, intrinsic desires to dive in and implicate, merge, and experience our external environments. The pause that holds us silently whilst observing opens doors that capture untold stories only we could conquer. Images filter constructs of rapacious emotional rapture. Visual stimulation impacts the exploration of the psyche through the processes of association thus hurdling emotions, voyeurism, pity, rage, lament. All of these perhaps, visionary in one stillness. A pause conveying all possibility."

-- Frank Guiller's statement

Maritza Molina

Cutting the Pattern by Maritza Molina














Born in Cuba to an artistic familyMaritza Molina immigrated to the United States with her family, settling in Miami, FL.  Molina’s artwork ranges in photography, performance, video, installation and drawing.  She photographs using a 4x5 large-format film camera as her main tool.  Her process resembles a “production set,” where she is the artist, director, producer, coordinator, and protagonist of the work.  Molina’s ideas are generated from her life experiences, and explore familiar dynamics pertinent to her surroundings.  Living in a duality of cultures, Cuban and American, and trying to merge her individual thinking with traditional beliefs, Molina's life is often rich with contradictions that fuel her work. Her art touches upon universal issues of human identity, the role of women and religion, freedom and our relationship with nature, and the quest for truth and meaning. Within this context, she reflects upon the social norms and roles men and women play in society, and the underlying interaction with tradition, politics, and religious doctrines. 


Armando Mariño

Flower Man by Armando Marino

Born in Cuba, Armando Mariño currently lives and works in New York.

Fabian Peña

Fabian Pena artwork

Fabian Peña reconstructs fragments of cockroach wings, crushed houseflies, hand-scripted text, and other materials rooted in animalia to inform man-made objects and environments. Peña’s synthesization of nature and popular culture endows the contemporaneity of a baseball, graffiti, or allusions to Modern sculpture with a cellular level of timelessness. Peña harkens to the Shakespearean interpretation of a corporeal “pound of flesh,” acknowledging the somatic price for locating beauty in the grotesque.


Fabian Peña was born in Havana, Cuba and lives and works in Miami, Florida. He studied at Superior Institute of Arts in Havana. Peña’s work has been shown extensively throughout the US, Europe and Latin America. His work has been featured in notable publications, including The New York Times, and The Miami Herald. Recent exhibitions include Dead or Alive at the Museum of Art and Design in New York (2010) and New Work Miami at Miami Art Museum.

Ángel Delgado

In Situ installation

Angel Delgado (1965, Havana, Cuba) Multidisciplinary Contemporary Artist. Lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. Through keen observation of the everyday and the ordinary, Delgado is trying totransform those objects or situations that are the daily step in photographs, drawings, videos, paintings, installations and performance, with a poetic that makes us reflect on our lives, about social processes or on the same processes of artistic creation.

Alejandro Aguilera

African Princess, 2011

Alejandro Aguilera, born in Cuba in 1964, now lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his education at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, The Higher Institute of Art in Havana, and the School of Art in Holguin, his home town. Although his work has become increasingly abstract in recent years, it retains strong references to his recent memories of Cuba. These references include small flags as well as motifs related to the ocean and to the landscape. Aguilera combines these elements with the swirling imagery of what he describes as "so-called primitive cultures".


Pavel Acosta

Pavel Acosta. Wheat Field with Cypresses

"Stealing is at the very core of my work, since I first started making art. After graduating from the Higher Institute of Art in Havana, Cuba, and with little access to unaffordable art materials, I stole dry paint chips from the crumbling city walls and the objects around me to make collages of recycled paint on paper and canvas. I called these works Stolen Paintings. I wanted to survive as an artist in the same way people do in Cuba – smuggling the State resources within the black market as a compensation for low salaries and scarcities. I wanted to explore the boundaries between destroying something or commiting a crime, and creating, as well as the concepts of ethics and morality within that society."

-- From Pavel Acosta's statement


Jairo Alfonso

Jairo Alfonso. Watercolor Pencil

"Throughout my career, I have been interested in exploring material culture from an archaeological perspective, particularly the multilayered nature of objects, their history and symbolism, in paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, performances, and mixed media works on paper.

More recently, I have started developing a new body of work, reflecting on the relationship we, as human beings, establish with the objects we create, use, and discard. I explore two forms of relationships: hoarding and disassembling.

I address hoarding as horror vacui drawings. These works depicts accumulations of objects, devices and accessories from everyday life, piled up, and drawn closely together, so as to flood the pictorial space. Each object is represented life-size. Hoarding as clear sign of consumerism, and anxiety before economic crisis, inform this series. I pair the act of drawing with that of consuming goods, which is why I pack these metaphorical boxes with objects of every kind. The title of the works indicate the number of objects drawn in it."

-- From Jairo Alfonso's statement


María Magdalena Campos Pons

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons’ work is largely defined by an investigation of her identity, particularly her Cuban and African heritage. The issue of memory plays a vital role throughout the artist’s installations, photographs and drawings, and reflects the feeling of displacement that Campos-Pons experiences as a Cuban expatriate. She constantly tests the boundaries of artistic practice, never allowing herself to be defined by any single medium. Exile motivates her examination of the problematic of belonging, assimilation, and transculturation between diverse cultures.

Feminist issues and especially the concept of gender specific roles are present in her works. Campos-Pons generally seeks not to define identity and thereby limit it. She wants to discover aspects of it, thereby unraveling questions about her own existence, always leaving her own windows of opportunity open.