AND ADVENTURE AMONG MURALS
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.
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…