Note on Collective Exhibition / NG Art Gallery

It's been a long time since I've been on such a tortuous viacrucis as tonight. After witnessing Adriana Arronte's exhibition in Villa Manuela, I attended Toirac's exhibition in La Acacia, and from there, after an hour of waiting for P 12 in the Parque del Curita, to V.I.P (1) in NG, a gallery of a new type in Vedado. Without a doubt, the Most Holy Trinity, a purely Christian experience, with all the stoicism that comes with a high-profile pilgrimage like the one he attributed to me. Already from Villa Manuela, never before pouring all the drink, many attendees began to forge their exodus to NG: "Come on, that's going to be very good! Two and a half hours later, when I no longer remembered their faces, here I found all the People of Israel after the flight from Egypt, already drunk, added to a New Generation of people passionate about chicken canapés, the good and abundant drink, and, of course, art. I don't have to explain that, after the ordeal of a sticky, hectic evening, I was a quick victim of all the sin that was offered.

From a few years to this part have begun to thrive private spaces for the exhibition of art, very diverse nature. Almost everyone I know tries to promote contemporary art by novice artists, some with training, others self-taught. Many of the spaces have facilities or direct links with official institutions, founded and or directed by musicians, actors, or visual artists, of recognition. The management of other spaces, whose pedigree or genealogy I don't know, seem to navigate with the same luck, because I don't know the benefits or legal stumbling blocks that a private gallery can bring. In a century, the socio-cultural spectrum of the Island has opened considerably, climbing from the traditional framing of sugar, tobacco, rum, music and mulatas, to a percentile that includes dance (classical and contemporary), symphonic music, theatre, cinema and visual arts; in addition to other lines, for example, scientific-technical. Before they used to say that in Cuba you lifted a stone and a hundred musicians came out, and now the stony ground has multiplied for almost all the arts, with good trade and training, only that there is no money to pay for that caliber (for the well-known reasons).

Things are well billed here. In terms of plastic, if you jump on the San José dock in Old Havana, you will see anything from works loaded with good workmanship, some very effective to ensure the sale, through the decorative and ingenious craftsmanship, to the most shoddy farce, of what can be carried as souvenir the average of the yumas, confused as they are by the torrid heat of the tropics. Many architects have come out of that massive quarry for these emerging galleries of which I speak, climbing little by little; and others have had to come down, suddenly, appealing to that kind of locker market, temporarily, for economic hardship. Living from art is not as easy as you might think, but here there is good art for the eye to discover it. The Cuban art market is a peripheral business on a global scale. Many "marchantes" come with four pesos in their pockets and can make zafra with some gallery project or purchase, to resell in other latitudes. Others come and pay to be copied, or, to put it better, to simulate the kind of art made in other markets inaccessible to their economies, because they know how good and cheap it is to do it here. For purchasing power and price correlation, any Cuban artist would do well to put those four pesos in his pocket.

Every artist has a patron, which can range from the Vatican to a brother. Almost everything we see hanging in museums and galleries around the world was somehow remunerated... or stolen, as the case may be. As I mentioned earlier, several generations of artists from the courtyard have played the flute of success, accompanying Wifredo Lam, among those who achieved the best pitch, as an internationally recognized Cuban artist. Some of these living creators possess works in prestigious institutions around the world; some have gone away with their reward anywhere, others have stayed and reverted their silver to the promotion of local art, because the promotion relieves! In the latter case there is also, why not, the foreign interested, honest, who does his business with dignity. NG, a gallery that I didn't know existed until I was invited by the threatening elements in Villa Manuela, exhibits a sample of artists belonging to different generations and trends, but all very well sold and known. Hence the title of the sample is the one you have, with a (1) below, because it looks like there will be a saga.

Works by Iván Capote, Roberto Diago, Roberto Fabelo, René Francisco, Manuel Mendive, Pedro Pablo Oliva, and someone he had left an hour ago at La Acacia, José Ángel Toirac, make up the payroll. Distributed in a space not too large to exhibit art, as it is a domestic construction, the assembly is sober and well cared for, despite the large public attendance. Good time for NG and private exhibition spaces! Cuban art needed these vents to oxygenate and diversify its staging assiduously.     

Text and photos: Amilkar Feria Flores
Palatino Entropic Observatory / September 8, 2019, 09:20pm