Big names flock to Cuba’s first contemporary art space
Havana, Cuba - For decades, Cubans have been used to the revolutionary slogan ‘ La lucha continua’, or ‘the struggle goes on’.
Now the first ever international contemporary art space on the Communist-ruled island has been dubbed ‘ Arte Continua,’ or ‘art goes on’, reflecting the changes shaping Havana.
The concept, originally from Italy, brings leading contemporary artists to an island that has been under one-party rule for more than half a century.
It is an offshoot of a project called ‘Galleria Continua’ which started when Italians Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi and Maurizio Rigillo had the idea of setting up contemporary art spaces in the most unlikely places, starting in 1990 in the medieval Italian village of San Gimignano.
They scored a notable coup when they installed a gallery in China in 2005.
The Havana space includes work from big names including Michelangelo Pistoletto, Daniel Buren of France, British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor, India's Shilpa Gupta and the late Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis.
Fiaschi says he had the idea of installing an art exhibit space in Cuba during a visit in 2014, when he stumbled upon the ruined shell of a 1950s cinema in the old Chinese quarter of Havana.
Working with the Cuban authorities, he transformed the space and baptized it ‘ Arte Continua’ to signify that unlike its predecessors, this was not an actual gallery but more in line with Cuba's cultural centres.
As well as sculptures, the space will feature musical events, dance, theatre and photographic and architectural exhibits.
“We are the first non-Cuban exhibition space in Cuba,” said Luisa Ausenda, one of the organisers of ‘ Arte Continua’, boasting of the project’s pioneering, non-profit role.
Under a deal with the Communist authorities, the pieces on display will not be for sale.
Luisa Ausenda, director of Arte Continua gallery observes an artwork in Havana