Curator Rafael Migoyo's With Eyes of Stone and Water is the debut Pittsburgh exhibition of Del Caimán, a group of ten visual artists united in their sense of belonging with the Island of Cuba. United not only by their shared Cuban experience but also by the introspective examination of their individual identities, the artists of Del Caimán present themselves for the first time to the Pittsburgh public through the exhibition, With Eyes of Stone and Water. First presented at the University of Havana, and within the framework of the XIV Biennial Fair of Havana, Migoyo's Art Caimán integrates artwork by Eliseo Valdés Erustes, Evelio Toledo Quesada, Orlando Rodríguez Barea, Jorge Hidalgo Pimentel, Daniel Ortega Beltrán, Belkis Martin Mateo, Isolina Limonta Rodriguez, Juan Blanco Lozano, Juan Carlos Verdial, and Nadia García Porras.
Cuba offers a rich artistic culture that is often polished for the international community. There is an expectation among Cuban artists that they must only present what tourists will buy, hiding their artistic vision in the process. By representing renowned and rising Cuban artists, Del Caimán is changing that narrative. Del Caimán aims to connect the world with the real, unpolished art that defines Cuba’s very soul, but is rarely seen by the outside world. Cuban art is a monument to perseverance, to Cuba’s invento culture. Whether it’s using petroleum as a paint base or creating sculptures from reclaimed PVC piping, the artists create artwork that embodies their everyday experiences and the hardships they must overcome to pursue their passion. In Cuba, supplies are limited, yet art and life still thrive. It is Migoyo's sincerest hope that people around the world will come to appreciate Cuban art for what it represents; humanity’s indomitable spirit to create, no matter the circumstance.
Eliseo Valdés Erustes' impressive sculptures are the reflection of his inner world and all his lifelong learning. Immersed in the feelings transmitted by the natural geometry of his environment and the vibrations of the cosmic world, Valdés distills the vast inspiration that fills him like an overflowing cup. His artwork transmits solidity and, at the same time, a total delicacy that is nothing more than the projection of his soul, tender, peaceful, and of that cosmogonic balance, so deliciously handled by him, which preludes the origin of the artwork, the human being, and the universe.
Orlando Rodríguez Barea's mixed media artwork expresses the insistent human desire to seek. Painting, cutting, and cooking elements that harmonize and weaponize like a matrioshka, Barea creates new worlds within the living space in which we all coexist. Building his own ship to navigate his inner world and share, with everyone, the experiences acquired in that endless journey, Barea invites us to ride along with him and discover new doors within our being.
With the same aspirations that led him beyond the borders of Cuba, Daniel Ortega Beltrán dreams of exploring the Americas in a van, collecting, and painting his experiences. Ortega has created a whole imaginary world in which surreal scenarios, dolls and elements of everyday life are mixed, achieving a vision he likes to share with passers-by. His family life, his memories, and his dreams are all part of this world that he enriches day after day.
Isolina Limonta Rodriguez channels her experiences and memories of family to create a world in communion with her spirit. Man, Nature, and Spirituality are recurrent themes in her artwork. Her mixed media works on paper are loaded with symbols and memories, which both question and answer the need to search for a path to inner peace, that which distinguishes us and makes us human.
Juan Carlos Verdial is a Surrealist painter and sculptor. He paints in meticulous detail and careful execution, creating scenes of fantasy and imagination inspired by his marked philosophical interests based on allegories and real-life experiences. Verdial’s skillful application of color is often used to depict underwater worlds. Within these artworks are strong references to his family and his native country.
With traces of paint mixed with oil and gasoline; like an alchemist, Jorge Hidalgo Pimentel delves into the most primitive depths of the human being, the magical and the spiritual, to transmit, in the most spontaneous way possible, the world that dreams, that imagines, and that surrounds us, thus becoming the filter of his own experiences and of past lives. His body and his hands are the instruments that his spirit uses to channel a world full of symbols, of mythical characters that his imagination can create and that he needs to leave as reliable proof of his existence, in all his artwork.
Capturing reality in the most honest way possible is a constant in the artwork of Evelio Toledo Quesada, who is an exquisite and consecrated chronicler of the city of Havana. His paintings, often on cardboard, reflect the passage of time; longing; the mixture of cultures and styles that coexist, reinvent, and adapt in today's life, with the customs and needs of its inhabitants. The rebirth, like a Phoenix that rises from its ashes becoming a new version of itself, sometimes improved and sometimes not so much, forcing upon us a warning and hope, is the message lying in Toledo Quesada’s artwork.
Juan Blanco Lozano's artwork remains focused on our reality and our daily lives, inspired by local and at the same time, universal issues. The presence of the Malecon is an icon first introduced in Lozano's artwork more than a decade ago. It did not arise spontaneously, it was the result of his search for an element that identified the city where he was born and has always lived, in addition to what it represents for those who recognize it. Lozano says that it functions as an anchor, where he originates ideas that come out of the everyday. From there, he expands into the more generalizable points of view about society and its realities. Visually, at times, Lozano takes it to an extreme, but without eroding its identifiability. "The Malecon is the commonplace of many, it’s an overlook for viewing the outside world and the horizon: a place of hope, joy and sorrow. It's the limit and the frontier."
A desire for centralization, for digging into the natural and bending it, became systematic, obsessive; and led to the impressionist sensibility that inhabited Belkis Martin Mateo's being. Completely liberated and expressing it by taking absolute control of the photographic procedure, Mateo’s symbolic insinuations, of a natural landscape, began to emerge from the direct relationship between the physical dimension of the places discovered, and the sensory and imaginative capacity of the artists’ perception. Little by little, Mateo's formal conjectures around vegetation began to mix with those of other arid elements; residual objects scattered throughout the earth and soil; giving priority to micro-compositions that denoted an atmosphere of concealment and mystery. Almost unintentionally, she began to conceive a series of abstract images, in which the "drawing", the configuration of the object itself, is no longer so important, but the reflection of its structural interaction with the atmosphere and light, is.
In respects of quality performance, count on Nadia García Porras or Maraya Shells (María Caracoles)! This authentic multimedia Cubanite analyses and consecrates ways of being by dressing-up and projecting herself in different situations of daily life on the Island of Cuba. In one portrayal, Porras’ is a housewife searching for the perfect way to decorate her home with what she has on hand. Like a criolla rellolla that explodes onto the streets with striking presence, Porras certainly turns heads and perhaps even the thoughts, of people that pass by her stage. In both her 2D artwork and her performances, Porras portrays the challenges of today's Cuba to demonstrate the imagination, ingenuity, and inventiveness of the Cuban people. The invento spirit survives – even as it shifts in new directions.
Rafael Migoyo’s Del Caimán is a heterogeneous, diverse group of visual artists, linked in communion with the concepts of creation; a sum of coincidences and needs. They collaborate in both artistic and life projects; their union is solid because they are united by friendship through a collective feeling of fraternity. With Eyes of Stone and Water is the result of something that they have been creating, separately, for years. The union of their traveled paths have converged. In their union lies their strength, and it is in function of that fraternal union, that Del Caimán has joined their voices and their artwork.
Rafael Migoyo presents: With Eyes of Stone and Water was on exhibit from September 28th - November 4th, 2022.