The Banana Issue, vintage advertising to chronicle the relationship between the US and Cuba

March 17, 2018

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Havana, Mar 17 ( EFE ) - The "unrestrained optimism" and the apparent happiness that the commercials of the 1950's were selling serve the Cuban artist R10 to document in a very personal way the "thaw" between the island and the US in The Banana Issue a show that the designer will exhibit this month in the northern country.

 

This will be the first solo exhibition by Jorge Rodríguez Diez (Havana, 1969) in the United States, an opportunity "fortunate" in the middle of the renewed state of bilateral tension and the virtual closure of the US Embassy in Havana.

 

For the artist it is also a novelty to exhibit in Cincinnati (Ohio), a "fresh" circuit for the Cuban creators that supposes "a great expectation to see how that audience reacts to the content of the pieces, obviously political and social. "

"This exhibition was conceived as a chronicle or a personal memory about what happened in Cuba on an emotional, practical and political level at the time of the Cuba-US approach and That (former President Barack) Obama decided to visit Cuba in 2016, "R10 pointed out to Efe.

 

For the designer and painter, this was a time when there was a" new hope, an illusion " that things could improve "and in which Cuba" became fashionable "

" We were very popular at that time, there was a Chanel show, a concert by The Rolling Stones and a lot of people came with a lot of anxiety to consume the 'cubanía' ", insisted the artist from his house in the Havana Vedado, turned into a studio and gallery for his pieces.

 

The "social dynamism" that accompanied the "thaw", started in December 2014 and secured six months later with the official reestablishment of relations, followed the "disappointment" before the "cooling" after the victory of the current president Donald Trump, contrary to the bilateral approach.

 

"It is a well closed series. It goes from one extreme to the other, from hope to the loss of that hope, "explains the author, who will open The Banana Issue on March 24 at the Marta Hewett Gallery in Cincinnati, sponsored by" Bridges not Walls ", non-profit project initiated from the US to build bridges between the culture of both nations.

 

The allusion to vintage advertising aesthetics is not accidental for R10, who remembers it in the old magazines Reader's Digest stored at home as the "only publicity that was seen" in the Cuba of the seventies.

 

 

"These drawings projected optimism and faith. As time passed and our life became more difficult, it was very interesting to take advantage of that extraordinary confidence in the future to talk about insecurity and distrust, not only in tomorrow, but in today, "he explained. The Banana Issue includes a dozen pieces that resemble advertising posters where "all the characters laugh and project an outrageous optimism" to hide "an insecurity and a doubt about what is going to happen, not only in Cuba, but with the rest of the world, " he said.

 

R10 is one of the main visual chroniclers of the Cuban past and at the same time a keen observer of the present, which he reflects with the irony and mordacity of a country that usually laughs his misfortunes not to cry.

 

His works offer a critical view on issues such as the situation of the aging generation that drove the Cuban revolution, the origin of ideologies such as socialism where the " The gap between theory and practice is enormous "and more recently on global issues.

 

Almost like a continuation of the pieces that narrate the euphoria of" thaw ", R10 created The Big Fish as one" catharsis ", related to" the exaggeration, the lie "and centered on the figure of Donald Trump, which he presents as belligerent, as a sumo wrestler or a" circus phenomenon "that boasts of his power.

 

caricatures and the "superficial treatment that Trump has given art", the artist does not seek to ridicule and yes "to delve into the psychology of the character, so that not only an attack is identified, but the viewer thinks". Today R10 is already preparing its next show, scheduled for November in New York, and think about how to talk about current issues such as the movement against sexual harassment "Me Too" (Me too) and the "massacre at (Parkland school) Florida where many young people died. "

 

This event inspired one of his last works, where a character cleans several bloodstains on the floor with a white cloth.

 

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Image: Jorge Rodríguez Diez (R10) The Banana Issue, 2017, Acrylic on canvas 47" x 32.5". Courtesy of the Artist and Marta Hewett Gallery.

 

 

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