Permutations brings together the works of five artists who live and work in Cuba: Abel Barroso, J. Roberto Diago, Jorge Lopez Pardo, and the duo of Meira Marrero& Jose Toirac (M&T).
Throughout the show we can see a distinctive component that has characterized Contemporary Cuban Art for at least the past two decades: direct or indirect social and political commentaries. While some artists choose to illustrate it straight with clear symbols, others take an introspective attitude and use metaphors instead.
Abel Barroso (b.1971, Pinar del Río) was educated at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), and at the National School of Visual Arts, both in Havana. He is one of the artists who have commented on migration and the constant exodus from Cuba. Many of his pieces are based on the singular dynamism between Cubans inside and outside of Cuba.
Jorge Lopez Pardo (b.1976, Trinidad) attended the School of Visual Arts Oscar Fernández Morera, in Trinidad. He belongs to the group of artists who are more interested in an introspective look, focusing on more philosophical themes. His black and white images represent isolated imaginary places, becoming metaphors, ultimately windows to escape from the country’s reality.
J. Roberto Diago (b. 1971, Havana) was educated at the San Alejandro Academy. His work deals with racism in Cuba, which ‘officially’ doesn’t exist. Diago uses materials such as discarded wood and metal as a reference to the living conditions of black people in the country. Although these conditions are not exclusively for black people, they are the ones who historically lived in the poorest neighborhoods, thus often bearing the worst situations.
Meira Marrero (b. 1969, Havana) & Jose Toirac (b. 1966, Guantanamo) (M&T) have been working together for many years as a collaborative duo. Marrero attended the University of Havana, Cuba, where she received a degree in Art History. Toirac was educated, among other art institutions, at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Cuba. They are represented in this exhibition by Ave Maria, a grouping of 55 sculptures of the Virgin patroness of Cuba, accompanied by a text of Jose Marti, the hero from the Independence War.
The installation becomes in a way the unifying piece for the exhibition. Based on the role of race as idiosyncrasy and a unifying factor, this piece is really a call for unity despite race, religion or political affiliation.