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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Cuban art is free

From the website Global Post

In a tree-shaded neighborhood that was once home to wealthy Cubans, a stately sea-green mansion with tall Roman columns hides a trove of artistic surprises.
The Villa Manuela Gallery reveals the stunning vibrancy of Cuba’s contemporary art scene. In a country where people have struggled for decades with governmental restrictions on free expression, artists here exhibit a broader desire for a more open society.
Cuba has always maintained a venerable reputation in the international world of fine arts. For the best Cuban artists, the occupation is more than just a form of personal expression. Especially recently, as Cubans push to expand beyond their island’s shores, it can pave a path to what, by the country’s current standards, is considerable wealth.
While contemporary painters and sculptors sell to foreign tourists who pack the streets of Old Havana, they also show their work at chic galleries throughout Europe, South America and, more recently, the United States.
Some sell their works for tens of thousands of dollars.
The success that artists in Cuba enjoy reflects a striking difference between their place in society and the place artists occupy in other countries. Rather than suffer in garrets and work odd jobs, some are among the country’s highest earners, and enjoy privileges far beyond the means of most other Cubans.
These days, despite any previous governmental restriction that Cuba is infamous for, art experts say artists here are also able to paint, draw, and sculpt almost whatever they wish.
“There is more freedom in art than one would expect in Cuba,” said Michelle Wojcik, who runs a gallery in Boston’s trendy South End that showcases new art from Cuba. “That’s not to say that Cubans have total freedom, but the artists I have represented say they don’t feel restricted.”

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