Born: Havana, Cuba, 1971
A graduate of the Art Academy of San Alejandro in Havana, Ernesto Leal has for many years been exploring spoken language and written text through a variety of media, investigating how they are used, misused, appropriated and subverted. Leal compares and contrasts the differences in evolution between that of the spoken language and that of the written. Leal’s work has been exhibited at LACMA; the 7th Istanbul Biennial; the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana; the MADC, San José, Costa Rica; at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, New York; the Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo (MEIAC), Badajoz, Spain; the University of Salamanca, Spain; the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), Mexico City; the Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO), Monterrey, Mexico; headquarters of the IFA, Berlin, Germany; and the Havana Biennial event organized by the Centre for Contemporary Art Wifredo Lam.
Pedro Pablo Oliva
Born: Pinar del Río, Cuba, 1949
One of the most outstanding living artists of his generation, Oliva is known as the “chronicler of his times.” His name is essential to the history of Cuban art, as the 66-year-old master has managed to create a vast and diverse body of work that pulsates like few others with the vibe of Cuba’s ever-changing and often contradictory social and cultural life. With an idiosyncratic figurative style that is famous for the mastery of drawing and painting it requires, and for the highly personal world it creates, Oliva’s work reflects crucial political events that have unfolded on his island during the last half-century, while implausibly combining childhood reminiscences and day-to-day social realities with dreamlike imagination, eroticism, lyricism, and humor. The most prestigious referents from national and art history come together in Oliva’s work in visual worlds that take their cue from comic strips, caricature, and vernacular culture. Oliva was awarded the National Prize of Visual Arts (2006).
Born: Havana, Cuba, 1964
Saavedra is arguably one of Cuba’s most outstanding and respected living artists. One of the most lucid and coherent figures of the New Cuban Art wave that emerged from the Higher Institute of Arts in Havana in the late ‘80s, Saavedra is as much a philosopher of everyday life as he is a conceptual artist. Using almost any medium-- from painting and drawing to video, animation, comics, objects, installations, graffiti, and performance—Saavedra creates works that are full of irony and clever humor, qualities seen especially in his language games, in which he equates high-brow rhetoric and artistic heritage with slang, folk expressions, and material culture, to elicit questions about the conventions of a stuck-up art world, of the political nomenclature, and of the so-called ordinary people. Saavedra deals boldly but intimately with his personal dilemmas as an artist and with the social and political circumstances around him. He was awarded the National Prize of Visual Arts (2014).
Born: Havana, Cuba, 1969
Sandra Ramos is one of the key names in Cuban contemporary art. Her work and poetics revolve around motifs like the timeless dialogue between classical western mythology and national folklore; the individual and social narratives centering on cosmic self-awareness and spiritual expansion within the confines of an island; the physical and psychological confinement of one islander upon the other; and the discrepancies between logos and rhetoric, education and indoctrination, reality and ideology. Ramos’ practice incorporates a wide variety of media and procedures—including printmaking, painting, drawing, collage, object-making, photography, video, digital animation, and installation-- and her method often involves the fusion of many or all of these practices. Ramos has created a spokesperson, or alter ego, who appears in most of her works: a ten-year-old girl dressed in an old red-and-white primary school uniform, who is also an avatar of Lewis Carroll’s Alice, from the Wonderland books. Moreover, Ramos has built a very personal imagery full of visual allure and lyricism, reflecting an intimate world of longing and memory, traversed by conflicting identities, and flavored by the trauma of exile. She expresses disbelief in meta-narratives and ideals, and captures the consequential wreck of utopias that has led to the suspension of a generation’s free participation in the future-- all in either melancholic or humorous tones that resonate with critical insight into the Cuban experience.
Born: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, 1970
One the brightest lights of the New Cuban Art generation, Segura is a leading artist on today’s Cuban contemporary arts scene. Well known for his fearless immersion in the heroic hagiography and utopian visions of the Cuban political and ideological establishment, Segura creates imagery with referents in pop culture, religion, everyday objects, and the practice of survival. The artist hybridizes and correlates these in a way that’s humorous, stylized, and lyrical, at the same time as it’s downright critical and intellectually challenging. Segura’s versatility finds expression in a wide variety of media, formats, and strategies-- from traditional procedures like drawing and painting to installations, environments, and public intervention.
The Merger is a collective of Havana- and Miami-based artists who create works positioned within the now-established hybrid territory where traditional art meets creative graphic design and high-end industrial technologies and materials. The Merger’s signature look can be recognized by flawless execution and the neo-pop art feel of the shiny objects, sculptures, and gadgets they create—ingenious and amusing devices that are nonetheless charged with witty and acutely critical observations of contemporary society, both on the island and across the globe. Their work would be called “cynical,” if not for its playful, humorous tone, marked by double entendres.
José A. Vincench
Born: Holguín, Cuba, 1973
A key figure in Cuban contemporary art, Vincench is identified in his latest works with visually aseptic, abstract imagery that is largely heir to the legacies of concrete abstraction, conceptualism, and language-based art. His work often reflects an underlying process of deconstruction meant to express his experience within the social-political actuality of Cuba today, especially the use of rhetoric as a means of symbolic domination and of describing the sometimes-tragic aftermath of resistance and dissent. Thus Vincench positions himself within a still-central dichotomy of art-making in post-revolutionary Cuba: between the inner search for beauty, self-awareness, and art-for-art’s-sake, and the more outward-facing urge to reflect on, criticize, or attempt to transform social reality by activism. Within this exhibition, Vincench’s works reflect a conceptual, abstract approach to art that balances the array of figurative approaches employed by the other artists.
Javier Castro Rivera
Born: Havana, 1984
From 2004 until the date is devoted to the realization of works in videos and installations where attempts to capture the survival modes of Cubans; sometimes from the performer other direct from the registry. Use the reality as a valid method of analogies with the history of art by establishing new links between the most common events and unnoticed and works already in existence. Their parts crawl the contradictions and conflicts undeniable a context from an anthropological vision. In this way subjects as violence, the economy, the language, the sexuality and the family are of great interest to his research. Its production is worth of files at the same time cultural and generates new documents that reinterpret the society.
Away from the "political", the poetics of this artist is catalogd by many as the art of social insertion. It is known that in Cuba, the artistic production supplies media areas of opacity, however the work of Javier Castro We unveils its authenticity: it goes in the field of art with an in-depth look toward the Cuban subject. Castro does not judge the context rather presents it scans and leaves a path of view frustrations and individual worldviews common in marginal areas of the island. Recorded daily resistance modes and culture where mostly imposes the highest talk, the reckless pose the most bodily injury, the "wild". All this through images the most accurate possible, where the lack of "cleaning" in the visuality power significantly its speech.
 The término "the wild", in the Cuban popular slang, is an indication of courage and virility.
Born: Pinar del Río, Cuba, 1973
David Horta is an independent art curator and film producer based in Pinar del Río and Havana, Cuba. A graduate in Education Sciences at the Rafael Ma de Mendive Higher Pedagogical University in Pinar del Río, Horta has focused his professional interest since 1999 on cultural investigation through art and film criticism, and curatorship. With fifteen years of experience as a cultural promoter, lecturer, and counselor, Horta has with worked with several important art institutions and organizations in Pinar del Río, including the Consejo Provincial de Artes Plásticas (as specialist, 2001-2004); the Tiburcio Lorenzo Regional Arts Academy (as professor of aesthetics, art appreciation and history, 2007-2010); and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Pinar del Río University (as associate lecturer in the history of art and Cuban cinema, and leader of workshops on the aesthetics of documentary filmmaking and careers in social communication, cultural studies, and journalism, 2006-2011). In addition, Horta worked from 2004 to 2007 as the editorial director of the arts and literature magazine La Gaveta.
Horta completed postgraduate courses on cinema critics and theory at the Faculty of Higher Studies of the International School of Cinema and Television in San Antonio de los Baños (EICTV, 2009), where he also studied at workshops on movie writing (2009), aesthetics of animation (2009), and TV production and direction (2007-2009). Associated with the Casa-Taller Pedro Pablo Oliva cultural foundation (2007- 2011), Horta has served as coordinator of cultural projects and curator of the Tiempos Modernos Film Archive; coordinator of Luces de la Ciudad Cinema Film Society; and co-founder of La Concretera Producciones and La Concretera Audiovisual Lab.
Currently associated with the Museo de Arte Pinar del Río (MAPRI), as guest curator, lecturer, and member of its technical council and collection board, and with the educational platform Proyecto Farmacia, as lecturer for the Workshop on Aesthetics of Experimental Cinema, Horta is a guest editor and member of the editorial council of the cultural magazine Cauce.