In Paris Old Fridges Turned into Artworks by Cuban Artists
Havana, Aug 10 (acn) A group of Cuban artists turned old and obsolete refrigerators into art pieces making up an exhibit entitled Energy-guzzling Monsters that was recently on display at Paris' Grand Palais.
Some 50 high-energy consuming fridges, most of them built in the 1950's, were transformed by an equal number of Cuban artists into sculptures. These refrigerators are some of the obsolete appliances that are being replaced throughout Cuba as part of the country's ongoing Energy Revolution.
Promoted by curator Mario "Mayito" M. Gonzalez, the exhibit was first showed during this year's Havana Biennial before moving on to the Bovisa Triennial in Milan; La Casa de America, in Madrid; and finally, the Gran Palais in Paris.
Mayito told the press about the origin of the initiative, "We were working on another project in my studio and one of the artists, Roberto Favelo, began to paint a fridge I had there. I thought it was a good idea."
Both critics and the public of the French capital were mesmerized by the refrigerators: "unusual, tender, full of humor, nostalgic, daring or disturbing," the AFP news agency wrote after registering the reactions of visitors to the exhibition, who called it "a resounding demonstration of the vitality of Cuban contemporary art."
Jules Grossard, an expert in Latin American art, said that Energy-guzzling Monsters is "a metaphor of the overflowing imagination of a society that faces the challenges of existence with joy."
From the pages of Le Monde, Francis Marmande described the collection as "stimulating, sensually aggressive and extremely Cuban."
The exhibition of old refrigerators symbolizes what has been a very exciting period in Cuban visual arts, gathering several generations of avant-garde artists and moving beyond the borders separating painting, sculpture, scenography and the "ready made" or "object trouvÃ©," so dear to European vanguard artists between the twentieth century wars.
Some artists focused on the rectangular dimensions of the fridge as a means to develop their creative work. For example, Zaida del RÃo, Agustin Bejarano and Ernesto Garcia PeÃ±a filled doors with their expressive painting style, while Javier Guerra displayed the magnificent drawings he regularly makes for the covers of imaginary magazines. Others went beyond the medium, to turn the fridge into a
starting point for new three-dimensional fantasies, such as the stool conceived by Nelson DomÃnguez, the refrigerator beer can by Miguel A. Leyva, the re-invented light box by Rene PeÃ±a and KchoÂ´s refrigerator-raft.
Mayito's piece featured the fridge at the heart of a fragment of Havana's seaside Malecon. This same identity seal, at an iconographic level, can be seen in the hybrid Luis E. Camejo made between a refrigerator and an almendron (1940s or 1950s American car).