Marcelo Pogolotti exhibition. National museum of Fine arts (Building of Cuban Art), Trocadero street between Monserrate and Zulueta, Old Havana. March-May 2018
"His conceptions are, in fact, in the forefront, in the field of current pictorial concerns. Pogolotti is the most advanced painter of technique and ideas our country has ever produced"
Alejo Carpentier. Paris, August 1931
A new encounter of the Cuban public with the plastic work of Marcelo Pogolotti is undoubtedly an exciting experience. It is, at the very least, an ideal occasion to stimulate reflection on confronting the drawings and paintings of an artist who has transcended his historical time to project himself to the nearest contemporaneity. Jorge Rigol, another of the greats, with his usual sharpness, described him as "the youngest, the most current of Cuban painters" (1).
Surely critics and spectators remember the art of Pogolotti for the most publicized of his work, which is the social one. But what they perhaps ignore is that, beyond expressing the combative reflection of a crucial era for humanity, we are in the presence of one of the most genuinely avant-garde artists of his generation. While other Cuban painters incorporated themselves into the language of modernity with an art that touches tangentially the most advanced movements of the moment, Pogolotti consciously immerses himself in the most daring of European avant-gardeism in his aspirations to lead his work towards an authentically new art.
It is in this direction that this exhibition is projected. Firstly, the recognition of the relevance of Pogolotti as the most legitimate representative of the pictorial avant-garde of the Island in the thirties. It is also Imperative to firmly point out the authentic Cubanness of the artist, which goes beyond his European cycle. It is not painting anecdotal guajiros in the style of Gattorno or the enigmatic heads of gypsies in the manner of Victor Manuel that grants the identity card of a national art. His drawing Aquí se trabaja para nada (1931), and the oil painting Paisaje cubano (1933) demonstrate not only his social concerns, which dominate the most transcendent part of his work, but also, in a particular way, his deep interest in the Cuban problematic, which was in his sights as an intellectual. It is worth pointing out that none of his contemporaries in Cuba crystallized such a lucid vision of those years as the one that appears in Cuban Landscape. His interest in exposing the true causes of capitalist exploitation on the Antillean island led him to select this painting to represent, together with The Gift to the Beloved and other drawings, in an exhibition of the most relevant importance in Paris, in 1934, in which artists of the transcendence of Léger, Lhóte, Lipchitz, JeanLurçat, Masereel, Pignon, among others, also participated.
Before the skeptical spectator we will say that Pogolotti's art is not circumscribed to the tradition of the local or to Latin American folklore; it is a roundly universal art. As the intellectual Jorge Rigol states, "Its purpose is not, in any way, to make a Cuban painting, neither French, nor anywhere else. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he tries to make a painting of everywhere" (2).
We therefore propose to look again at Pogolotti's work with an open mind, as if it were the first time, and to understand the logic of his creation based on the interpretation of his historical time, in which he displayed a progressive thought, close to a left-wing ideology, which will have its most consistent reflection in his work. […]
1 Jorge Rigol. Oil paintings, drawings and temperas. National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, since May 1, 1974. Catalogue.