Lancelot Alonso - Portrait -

Lancelot Alonso Rodríguez – PASSION AND RESTRAINT –

Lancelot Alonso - Portrait -

Lancelot Alonso (*Havana, 1986)

Lancelot Alonso graduated in 1997 from the José Antonio Díaz Peláez Experimental Center for Visual Arts, where he finished elementary school. He continued his studies at the FIT School of Design in New York in 2005 and at San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts in Havana, where he graduated in 2008. He lives and works in Havana.

– Virginia Alberdi about Lancelot –

‘For strong emotions, we have the work of Lancelot Alonso. On one occasion he was asked about his favorite themes and answered: “I think an important moment was that of my graduation thesis. I sat down to think. The thesis obliges you to develop a theme. I said to myself: ‘I’m not interested in doing what postmodern US Americans did, all that reflection on the problems of art… Among the ‘national’ themes, I am not interested in talking about emigration, marginality, either… until I stopped giving thought to it. I am an erotic, sensual guy. There’s the way.’”

Behind this direct and casual pronouncement, there lies much work and soul-searching. From what has been said to what has been done there is a great stretch that the spectator travels with the endorsement of more than a few accumulated experiences and references.

Indeed, Lancelot’s painting ranks within the extensive range of erotic themes, of which there is a narrow, but relevant tradition in 20th century Cuban visual arts. A few creators from the island could have endorsed Lancelot’s words: “I’m an erotic, sensual type.” But there are notable differences.

In that past, there is a line that goes from Carlos Enríquez to Servando Cabrera Moreno and ends at Zaida del Río and Ernesto García Peña. Eros and lyricism join in that trajectory. But in the more recent past, we witnessed a rupture that, in turn, involved a different kind of initiation: Eros versus lyricism, or, in other words, Eros and sexuality. There is no longer a need to hide the dark object of desire; the eroticism is shown, not suggested. As a milestone between both trends, a name appears in Cuban art: Umberto Peña.

As curator Máximo Gómez Noda has pointed out, this has been happening on a global scale from the second half of the 20th century to the first decade of the 21st century; when the erotic-sexual theme reached its highest point with regard to diversity of forms of expression and typologies, widening the possibilities of approaches that eliminate prejudices, schemes and offering a new evaluative view.

However, while for many of the emerging Cuban artists from the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, eroticism conveyed precocity, transgression, provocation, and political-social intentions. Confronting the thematic production of Tomás Esson, Ciro Quintana, Lázaro Saavedra, Elio Rodríguez and Pedro Vizcaíno – Lancelot’s perspective stops at the inherent reflection of sexuality.

Bodies, gestures, and postures exhaust in their own and strict sense. When the artist narrates, the chronicle is self-sufficient, eliminating oblique readings or hazardous solutions of continuity. He admits Rocío García’s influence, more in the formal compositional level than in the conceptual one – perhaps no other artist in Cuba has revolutionized both the pictorial inquiry about the relationship between Eros and power in painting. But a closer approach to voyeurism may be present in the revaluation of sexuality in the bodies of the work of Russian-US American artist Anna Demovidova.

The most interesting aspect about Lancelot, because it causes conflict in the resolution of the compositional elements, is the fact that his images are sustained on a base of color. His chromatic palette is overflowing and feverish like the fauvists’, but without involving premeditated sophistication.

Lancelot has greater interest in resembling himself rather than his era, although he will inevitably continue to be an artist of the time he was born into. In the works exhibited in this exhibition he maintains the violence of color, but the stories contained in them are less aggressive, with perhaps a more romantic touch. ‘

Works for sale on

Adislén Reyes - Portrait -

Adislen Reyes Pino – PASSION AND RESTRAINT –

Adislén Reyes - Portrait -

Adislén Reyes  (*Havana, 1984)

Adislen Reyes attended San Alejandro Academy of Fine Arts until 2005 and finished her studies at the Higher Institute of Art in 2010. She has taken part in the following workshops: Artist’s Book, with Steve C. Daiber in San Alejandro (2011); Lithography, in San Alejandro (2003); Collography, with Janet Brossard and Norberto Marrero; The Multiple Trace, at ISA (2002), and Collagraphy, with José Contino, in San Alejandro (2001). She is currently a professor at San Alejandro Academy. She lives and works in Havana.

– Virginia Alberdi about Adislen Reyes –
‘Adislen has said about herself: “My work starts from a hedonistic view of the world and art, hence the careful formal details and the fact that I highlight beauty above the other elements. However, my work is permeated by subtleties, that indirectly exposes other concepts, often using as a tool, the relationship of opposites. I relish different clichés, and through their saturation try to achieve a more cynical vision of reality. Emptiness, superficiality, lack of definition, decoration, and craftsmanship are some of the elements that appear repeatedly in my work.”

We must believe her, but not stop at this confession. In the face of her work, let us separate the dialectics between formalism and conceptual questioning, between clichés and originality, between hedonism and intellectual intensity. One observes in her painting the pretension of masking behind a soft-toned and apparently aseptic patina – in truth, seasoned with elements that habit has classified as decorative themes – fables about the human adventure.

The tiny figure, that mischievous girl who almost always appears in her compositions, is a pretext for a permanent confrontation with the narrative environment in which she moves, with ambiguous but consistent references to the loss of innocence, the fragility of existence, forbidden sexuality, disappearing dreams, and sentimental helplessness.

Everything is decided on the basis of scenarios arranged for representation, which are not offered to the eye as finished proposals but as deliberately muted insinuations. In this operation, which denotes sensible intelligence and mental planning, lies the originality of Adislen’s work.

As I examine her paintings carefully and joyfully, I find a contrasting analogy between Adislen’s work and the passion that moved Lewis Carroll to invent Alice in Wonderland. The English mathematician and writer, according to André Breton, saw himself trapped “between the acceptance of faith and the exercise of reason, on one side, and between a sharp poetic conscience and the rigorous professional duties, on the other.” With her painting, the young Cuban artist tries to go beyond an illusory perception that leads to complacency (the drowsiness, one could say, of Carroll’s faith) and induce us to explore, in a poetic state, consciously or unconsciously, on which the observer and not the painter must pronounce.

In this regard I share the opinion of Josuhe H. Pagliery, who warned about Adislen: “The use of a child’s imagery, more related to the world of illustration or graphics, solidifies the certainty that the world she shows us does not result from gratuitousness or the mere aesthetic whim; it was consciously selected to consolidate in the spectator a pressing sensation psychologically close to expectation. And it is precisely that visual stillness that makes us glimpse such a feeling, the unfinished drama of such micro situations that do not end or even occur at all.” Each one of the pieces now exhibited by Adislen has been touched by the sprite of a calculatedly insidious lightness that invites us to tread a minefield of poetic grace. ‘


Virginia Alberdi – PASSION AND RESTRAINT – Works by: Adislen Reyes and Lancelot Alonso



In ‘Passion and Restraint’ I choose to present two young painters – Adislen Reyes Pino (Havana, 1984) and Lancelot Alonso Rodríguez (Havana, 1986) – who apply color in a very distinctive way: She, with soft, pastel tones, and he, with full intensity. The work of both revolves around eroticism. This com-mon focus is not unusual, since many artists from different generations have covered it with greater or lesser intensity; however, it allows me to introduce young creators who deal with a universal topic without turning it obscene and allowing all audiences to approach it as inherent to human nature. In my opinion, Adislen and Lancelot are two of the most interesting artists among the many that strive to establish themselves in the contemporary Cuban art scene. This curatorial project should be regarded as a snapshot that freezes one moment in the evolution of two artists whose youth, in creative terms, advances toward stages of maturity. Adislen and Lancelot are just a pick out of a complex, vast, and promising movement. Today’s young Cuban artists, have much to offer.

Interview of Virginia Alberdi, Adislen Reyes and Lancelot Alonso about the exhibition and their works

VIRGINIA ALBERDI , who lives and works in Havana, Cuba, is an art critic and currently editor of the Artecubano Publishing House. Bachelor in Literature, she has been a professor and curator, and collaborates regularly with several specialized publications and galleries.
Taller Experimental de Gráficas - Entrance

Graphic Explosion at the Havana Cathedral

– By Virginia Alberdi –

Taller Experimental de Gráficas - Entrance

Taller Experimental de Gráficas – Entrance

In the itineraries through Havana, there is always a stop in the Havana Cathedral Square. The magnetism of the historical center of the city, because of the paradigmatic architectural values of the American Baroque, another attractive is particularly the interest of the public space surrounded of institutions related with the cultural and social life of Cuba at present time.

To understand the former statement it is necessary to transcend the regular routines of the tourist walks; to go beyond the disposition to order a Hemingway mojito in Bodeguita del Medio, or to capture pictures of the women that show traditional scenes of the colonial times, or to listen to the traditional melodies of a musical group in the arcades of the House of the Marquis of Aguas Claras, reconverted in a restaurant, or to sit down in the atrium of the main church to watch people’s bustling traffic all day long..

It is necessary to go into the mysteries of the cathedral stone, in the revelations of the columns and the rounded arcs of the adjoining constructions and to travel in time to the past by means of the illustrations by the European artists that fixed the atmosphere and the colors of the place in the XIX century.

Maybe it would be good to read “The city of the columns”, the brief and lucid essay dedicated to that area of the city by the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier. Or to search in video libraries the conferences that the historian Eusebio Leal has dedicated to explain the cultural scheme of our interest, since he is the most important driver of the restoration of the historical center of Havana,.

The area is called that name because there ended the Zanja Real, the old aqueduct of Havana in its first times. It brought the water from the river La Chorrera, now Almendares, to the village. In the corner a tablet is conserved like a testimony that shows the following inscription: This water was brought by Field Master Juan de Tejeda in 1592. At the end of the small street we can find the Experimental Graphic Workshop of Havana (Taller Experimental de la Gráfica – TEGH) at the Cathedral Square

Taller Experimental de Gráficas - Front

Experimental Graphic Workshop of Havana – Front

The Experimental Graphic Workshop of Havana was founded on July 30, 1962. Their founders enabled a lithographic workshop starting from the recycling of stones and impression machines, discarded by the old Lithographic Company of Havana, dedicated to make the labels and seals for Cuban cigars. Those labels and seals, themselves, have an intrinsic artistic value. Before residing in the Callejón del Chorro. The Workshop started to work in the same square, partly of what was the House of the Marquis de Arcos. This new location dates of 1980.

Those founders intended to project engraving as an artistic gender with its own entity, from their expressive possibilities and potentialities to multiply a visual testimony.

At first, the lithographic technique prevailed, as expected. Under the leadership of José Contino, the pretenses were bounded to the rescue of the lithographic traditions. The mural painter Orlando Suárez, together with Chilean painter José Venturelli, encouraged the idea. The founding group included only about ten artists and had the technical experience of the Master lithographers Amable Mouriño and Israel de la Hoya.

The few artists that joined at the beginning did it just for curiosity. However, in a short time they were caught by the mystery of engraving and the group of regular artists coming to the workshop increased at the same time with new and higher editions of lithographs, more and more original, and other graphic procedures were then introduced that made the expectations even higher.

Mainly from the 70s of XX century, the Experimental Graphic Workshop consolidated itself as a cultural vanguard institution. The presence of graduates of the National Art School, young blood that really determined the experimental character of the production, has increased the importance of the Experimental Graphic Workshop.

At the moment, the Experimental Graphic Workshop has a hall for printings that has enough space for more than ten presses in use, besides it has its own Gallery and a Cabinet of Prints where its first lithographs to the most recent ones are preserved. From lithography, also chalcography, xylography and monotype have been included, this is, and the possibilities to stamp visual works have increased.

Taller Experimental de Gráficas - Interior

Experimental Graphic Workshop of Havana – Interior

Cuban graph has had to conquer prejudices and the contribution of Experimental Workshop of Graph has played an important role. Although the certificates of authenticity or the limited editions exist and many techniques of engraving have been the first steps toward the fame of many artists in all times, the certainty of possessing a multiple original is not always as gratifying as to acquire a unique piece.

The hierarchy of the work valued in a considerable amount of money, according to the nature of the technique or to their author’s recognition has caused the touch on many kinds in the graphic arts. In the contemporary art, not a few people mistrust the works that can be multiplied. This alternative whose positive or negative opinions could be studied in many creators, it is summarized and allegorically managed by the artist and engraver Orlando Montalván: “When an individual buys a good book, that same copy is, for its printing procedure, just another copy among the thousands of copies made of the book, however that doesn’t change its price, or its symbolic value”

The critic of art Onedys Calvo, current Directress of Palacio del Segundo Cabo, who is a specialist on the study and curator of exhibitions of engravings, explains: “The kind of a work that can be reproduced is many times complicated, because mainly regarding marketing, the collectors and other people that could be interested in acquiring the work have the traditional concept related with the unique piece. Then people tend to demerit the other works that have the possibility of a diverse number of editions. So, at present people should value this kind of pieces and study how this phenomenon can behave, studying it, not only regarding marketing.”

In Cuba, engraving has successfully overcome that limitation and it has been mostly because of the creativity of the artists and institutions like theExperimental Graphic Workshop that has been essential in the irradiation of that artistic current. A union spirit exists in the engravers and makes their work healthy and has influence on the circulation of its expressive versions.

“Long ago engraving was the one that made possible that the same image could multiply from a cast – Calvo says -. With the digital era this cast changed, as well as the supports and it is already possible to multiply images from a picture, a video or certain facilities that the artists can publish again and again. Those techniques – have transformed into a possibility of a possibility of a more and more recurrent creation for the artists, but there are many of them that are interested mainly in engraving. Engraving and the concept in itself of the multiple original is present inside the processes of creation of the Cuban contemporary visual arts, even when there is an evident technological renovation. Nothing replaces the pleasure of feeling wood or metal in the hands.”

Next, in order to illustrate the importance of engraving and the development of the Workshop, I will issue a reference list of Masters of engraving that have left their mark in the Experimental Graphic Workshop, they are: Armando Posse, José Contino, José Luis Posada, Rafael Zarza, Umberto Peña, Eduardo Roca (Choco), Luis Miguel Valdés, Frémez, Roberto Fabelo, Nelson Domínguez, Juan Moreira, Carlos del Toro, Rafael Paneca, José Omar Torres, Zaida del Río, Roger Aguilar, Ángel Ramirez, Diana Balboa, Belkis Ayón, Raimundo Orozco and Sandra Ramos.

Octavia Irving working

Octavia Irving working

In the last years Octavio Irving, a young engraver but with an intense experience in that specialty, has been the head of the Experimental Graphic Workshop. About his position he has said: We are constantly assessing and dialoguing about the quality and the nature of the diverse artistic projects and we analyze how those proposals can be carried out in the Workshop and to exhibit them in our gallery. We have a wide space to generate diverse types of activities that go from the creation of the graphic work, with emphasis in experimentation, to the exercise of marketing and the particular or collective promotion of the artists.

Also, there is the aspiration to make even closer the links with the art schools, the San Alejandro Academy and the University of the Arts (Superior Institute of Art). This is another a step to reach the most complete training of artists.

Havana, August, 2017