Cuban Artists Escape The Routine
Cuba is turning a new page in its international relations as we speak, but flip back some in the book of Cuba’s history and you’ll come upon equally transformational moments you wouldn’t have found on the front page of the New York Times.
Fresh and alive for viewing at the Cambridge Multicultural Art Center, “Still Running: Afro-Cuban Art” samples one of the many branching artistic currents which have and still do enrich Cuba’s vital past.
It all started back in the late 1970s when Cubans with an African heritage banded together, in a movement they called “Grupo Antillano” to paint and sculpt and print with conscious reference to the West African cultural and religious cosmos of their ancestors.
This artistic movement might sound like a program stiff with ideology for which a modern viewer would need a guidebook with footnotes. And it could well have been just a cannonball of resistance by an embattled sub-group, impacting mostly just well schooled members of that same group.
Fortunately for art and for us, what starts out at the tip of a painter’s brush, an etcher’s tool or a sculptor’s chisel, etc. as a fully conscious act soon moves by mysterious ways into the artist’s subconscious, both personal and collective. Then again, artists are prone to take suggestions from the very techniques and materials with which they create.