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Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011

Artistic Spirit Thrives in Latino Arts Inc.’ ‘Cuban Printmaking’

Art Review

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Cuba, the small island nation south of the United States, has experienced its share of economic and political upheaval over the past five decades. Due to political conflicts between the two nations, accurate information about Cuba remains hidden to many in America. Cuban art offers insight into the nation’s culture, and Milwaukeeans now have a chance to experience some of that artwork. At the United Community Center, Latino Arts Inc. presents the traveling exhibition “Contemporary Cuban Printmaking” from Taller Experimental de Gráfica, Havana’s premier graphic workshop.

The exhibition presents bold, brilliant colors in more than 75 works on paper from approximately 30 artists. The featured artists are members of Taller Experimental de Gráfica, founded in 1962 and renowned for influencing a great number of Latin artists. Collagraphs, etchings, lithographs and woodcuts from some of the country’s leading printmakers portray soulful experiences in conceptual, metaphysical and mythological imagery, mesmerizing viewers and inviting internal contemplation.

In several prints titled La Habana, José Omar Torres López depicts fruits languishing over the city’s landscapes. The complementary pink and green of a slice of watermelon hover precariously over darkened blue water, and windows shine from the shoreline overlooking the ocean in a playful representation of a night in Havana.

Cuban culture flows from each artist in this exhibition, a tribute to the accessibility, affordability and longevity of these age-old printmaking techniques. The artistic ethic upheld by small art workshops throughout the world, exemplified by Cuba’s Taller Experimental de Gráfica in this exhibition, demonstrates the power of creativity and underscores art’s ability to overcome political strife.

Imagination and freedom of expression prevail in “Contemporary Cuban Printmaking,” an affirmation that the human spirit can survive amid struggles. We should applaud Latino Arts Inc. for transporting this testament to artist and community. The exhibit continues through Feb. 11.
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