Kcho (Alexis Leyva Machado) and Juan Roberto Diago Durruthy, Cuba’s best-known artists on the international scene, are also being shown in the USA this autumn. Works by both will be included in a ‘blockbuster’ exhibition, Cuba Forever Revisited, at the prestigious Pizzuti Collection in Columbus, Ohio, from 16 September.
Internationally recognized for his monumental and evocative sculpture, installations, paintings and prints, water defines all aspects of Kcho’s life. His oeuvre is populated with sculpture constructed from found objects associated with the sea: boats, propellers, driftwood, inner tubes and fishing nets. He frequently depicts these objects in his canvases and graphic work, creating a veritable lexicon of island life where all residents must contend with the ocean. Kcho is also deeply committed to community arts projects. He led brigades of artists to help with hurricane reconstruction in Haiti and Cuba, and has recently opened an arts ‘laboratory’ in the Romillero district of Havana.
Diago returns insistently to slavery as a key theme, and he frequently uses calico because it was the material slaves wore. His work is a commentary on the African slave diaspora, and race, racism and religion in Cuba; it is moving, spiritual and humane. Diago says, “I know there’s contradiction in my work. I’ve been drawing since I was little, I love drawing, I draw every morning and I don’t see why I should stop. But I also like to work with sound, to explore different uses of space. I don’t care about whether I’m being modern or not. I can draw or paint a watercolor in a more classical style, or I can make an installation with my light-boxes or with empty plastic bottles – the most important thing for me is to get the work done.”
Kcho and Diago will both be part of the ¡Presente! Contemporary Art from Cuba show in London 6-29 October – read more about Kcho here and more about Diago here.