Art On Cuba - - In This Issue - PI­LAR FERNÁN­DEZ PRIETO

The book El mu­ral­ismo y los mu­ral­is­tas en Cuba (Mu­ral Paint­ing and Mu­ral­ists in Cuba), pre­sented by Ed­i­to­rial Boloña, Ha­vana, in dig­i­tal sup­port, shows an in­tense and dili­gent work made by its au­thor, re­searcher Luis Gar­cía Peraza.1

The text be­comes a registry of the mu­ral­ist ac­tiv­ity made in al­most all Cuban prov­inces, dis­played in its di­verse the­mat­ics and var­ied tech­niques, in a wide time frame which tran­sits from colo­nial times to the present day.

The au­thor’s mo­ti­va­tion is to show in­for­ma­tion on that artis­tic pro­duc­tion, rel­e­gated to the shad­ows and with so great im­por­tance for the history of Cuban art, since it forms part of the in­te­grat­ing images in the ar­chi­tec­tonic and ur­ban sphere of the so called pub­lic art and pop­u­lar art. To achieve his goals, Gar­cía Peraza has struc­tured the in­quire in a clear and ra­tio­nal way, just as can be ap­pre­ci­ated in the book’s in­dex, in which the fun­da­men­tal as­pects de­vel­oped are spec­i­fied, as well as the in­cor­po­ra­tion to the text of other spe­cial­ists who have worked on the topic. The pro­logue by Dr. Avelino Cou­ceiro, who with his ap­praisal con­trib­utes value to the present ti­tle, is con­sid­ered of in­ter­est.

The au­thor, how­ever, has not trans­mit­ted only in­for­ma­tion —which would in it­self be valu­able—, but has made a history of the topic; he has in­cor­po­rated his cri­te­ria on it and, all in all, has es­tab­lished a sci­en­tific method­ol­ogy com­pris­ing a plu­ral­ity of sources, a pre­ci­sion of his topic of study and the well- de­fined pur­poses of his work, such as: that the de­vel­op­ment of the mu­ral in Cuba should be known; that its artis­tic sig­nif­i­cance in the con­text of its cul­tural his­tor­i­cal evo­lu­tion should be stud­ied; that the pres­ence of this sym­bolic pro­duc­tion should be felt in the de­bate of in­ter­na­tional con­gresses; that sig­nif­i­cant and un­known images should be tracked and shown in many cases to the pub­lic; that their con­ser­va­tion and restora­tion should be pro­moted; as well as of­fer­ing first-hand ref­er­ences on its cre­ators in the coun­try.

The main merit of the au­thor, for which he de­serves a trib­ute, has been and is the de­fense of an artis­tic ex­pres­sion linked in the 20th cen­tury with the Cuban Van­guard and the breath of Mex­i­can mu­ral paint­ing with a revo­lu­tion­ary na­ture. In this sense, Gar­cía Peraza ap­pre­ci­ates this novel artis­tic speech, which was pre­sented with a marked so­cial and ide­o­log­i­cal na­ture, just be­cause of those features, rel­e­gated in their his­tor­i­cal con­text and, un­for­tu­nately, not much stud­ied un­til to­day.

That is why it is now in­dis­pens­able to po­si­tion the mu­ral in the present glob­al­ized world, to ex­hibit its artis­tic and com­mu­nica­tive po­ten­tial­i­ties and in­crease an­other form of aesthetic re­la­tion through new looks in this im­por­tant area of Cuban art, with so­cial na­ture and a pub­lic pro­jec­tion.

It should be re­mem­bered that, in the decade of 1930, the process of the new Cuban paint­ing grew and the mu­ral re­cov­ered its vi­tal­ity. An ex­am­ple of it is the great mu­ral­ist project of the Mod­ern Move­ment on 1937 in Ha­vana and, later, in that same year, in the teach­ers’ train­ing col­lege of Santa Clara, with­out ob­vi­at­ing the cre­ation of the Free Stu­dio for Painters and Sculp­tors which in­cor­po­rated, for the first time, the tech­nique of mu­ral paint­ing.

In the decade of the 1940s the mu­ral is again used in other his­tor­i­cal cir­cum­stances, now hi­er­ar­chized by the of­fi­cial as­sign­ment which re­quires a lan­guage with easy ac­cess and quick read­ing, which must be mod­ern and also mod­er­ate, with a tra­di­tional na­ture. In this oc­ca­sion, the State ap­pro­pri­ates mu­ral paint­ing, a pro­duc­tion of a mas­sive mon­u­men­tal con­cep­tion pro­pi­ti­at­ing a di­rect and open contact with the re­cip­i­ent. New mo­tifs in­vaded the vis­ual art scene, espe­cially aca­demic, in schools and hos­pi­tals: the fac­tory, the work, the health, the worker. This is what hap­pens in the present Fin­lay Hos­pi­tal,first called Septem­ber 4 and also known as Columbia.

As may be ap­pre­ci­ated, Gar­cía Peraza, with a clear text and of easy and pleas­ant read­ing, achieves the open­ing of new paths on re­search, when sug­gest­ing greater def­i­ni­tions of art on the walls, and con­vokes to clar­ify con­cepts on the mu­ral, the tech­niques, the sup­ports, the con­tri­bu­tions and the di­men­sions, as well as the de­nom­i­na­tion of pub­lic art and sculp­tural mu­ral, all an­chored in con­tem­po­rane­ity. Un­doubt­edly, he has pro­moted an ex­cel­lent mono­graphic course that fos­ters the cre­ation of new hori­zons and future projects con­tribut­ing to the vi­tal­ity Cuban art.

It is nec­es­sary to high­light the im­mense ef­fort made by the re­searcher to en­rich his study with the in­cor­po­ra­tion of 180 mu­ral­ists, some not known in that artis­tic spe­cialty that he in­tro­duced in the con­text of the mu­ral, in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der, with bi­ogra­phies, his cri­te­ri­ons on their work and with the images cor­re­spond­ing to each one, con­tribut­ing to in­crease the sig­nif­i­cance of this beau­ti­ful work. Like­wise, the book con­trib­utes show­ing at times for­got­ten or not se­cluded events that are part of the uni­verse of mu­rals in Cuba.

Ed­i­to­rial Boloña, from the Of­fice of the Ha­vana City His­to­rian, has made an ex­cel­lent work when pro­pi­ti­at­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of this dig­i­tal book, which should have a larger dif­fu­sion, be­cause of its texts as well as its il­lus­tra­tions and its de­sign. We hope there would be an­other edi­tion in a printed book!

It is worth­while to read, en­joy and learn from the ex­cel­lent book by spe­cial­ist Gar­cía Peraza, with this sen­si­tive ad­ven­ture of knowl­edge that will be ex­ceed­ingly use­ful in var­i­ous spheres, espe­cially in artis­tic ed­u­ca­tion. Again, thanks to the au­thor for his con­tri­bu­tion and the rel­e­vance of his in­quiry be­tween walls. ƒ

Gar­cía Peraza achieves the open­ing of new paths on re­search, when sug­gest­ing greater def­i­ni­tions of art on the walls, and con­vokes to state ex­actly con­cepts on the mu­ral, the tech­niques, the sup­ports…

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