Casa de las Américas celebrates the Year of New Figuration with a selection of pieces from the Haydée Santamaría Art Collection of Our America.
On April Casa de las Américas began celebrating its 53rd anniversary with the inauguration of the exhibit Antonio Seguí, the archives of memory, by outstanding Argentinean painter, sculptor and illustrator Antonio Seguí (Córdoba, 1934), also known as “El Gallego Seguí.”
The curatorial and museographical process was carried out by Yoani Rivera, Nahela Hechavarría and Silvia Llanes, based on a research process made with the Casa’s collection and artists in general.
Due to the Casa’s proximity to Havana’s coastline, the work done by Sergio Hernández and Yoani Rivera is of vital importance. Rivera made reference to the “challenge and responsibility of restoring contemporary works, most of which have been exhibited only once.”
The exhibit alludes to how memories exert influence on human beings and their relationships with the environment.
This is, in the opinion of Nahela Hechavarría, an invitation to “not forget the past and the history of the dictatorships suffered by the Latin American region, particularly Argentina, since 1970.”
Antonio Seguí is one of the most important Argentinean artists, above all from the 1960s and 1970s, who remains active. Though he lives in France, he hasn’t lost the bonds with his country, where he has had many exhibitions.
He was linked with the social issues and the condemnation of the coups that took place, one after the other, in Argentina during the 60s, which were part of the pro-coup movements in South America and Latin America, most of them sponsored by the United States.
The Argentinean dictatorship, a result of the 1976 coup d’état, had influence on Seguí’s poetics. That’s why the topic of power generated an interest in the artist, not only based on military elements, but also on the human figure within the social environment in which s/he lived.
His personage is tightly bound up with Casa de las Américas, as the Institution has accumulated engravings and paintings of his that can be seen until the month of July.
The Year of New Figuration, which will be celebrated until March 31, 2013, also comprises a collective exhibit by 42 artists who are in keeping with the neo-figurative trend in nations such as Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba.
Other countries like Peru and Uruguay – the latter with very good artists who dedicated their works to the neo-figurative quest - are represented as well in the showcase that will be extended to the lobby and second floor of the Institution.
In the exhibition, unique pieces can be appreciated, such as multiple original engravings, only published twice, and an original by José Acosta León (Havana, 1932-1964).
The opening of a personal exhibition by Umberto Peña (Havana, 1937), painter, engraver and graphic designer who currently lives in Salamanca, Spain, is scheduled for March 2013.
As explained by the curators, New Figuration is one of the most transcendental artistic trends of the second half of the 20th century. It embraced Latin America and Europe due to a dialogue with abstraction – which dominated the international scenario back in the 50s.
This new figuration involved a commitment to human beings, their vital circumstances and the situation in Latin America during the 70s.
All these circumstances caused the irruption into the Latin American artistic panorama of a new generation of creators with an original conceptual strength.
Some of the names on the list are Antonio Berni (Rosario, 1905-Buenos Aires, 1981), Guillermo Núñez (Santiago de Chile, 1930), Augusto Rendón (Medellin, 1933), Antonia Eiriz (Havana, 1929-Miami, 1995) and Antonio Saura (Huesca, 1930-Cuenca, 1998).
The Year of New Figuration gives continuity to a project of the Casa de las Américas. Initiated with the Matta Year in 2006 and the Kinetic Year in 2009, it has the aim of promoting and organizing the comprehensive collections of the Haydée Santamaría Art Collection of Our America.
Translated by Adriana Pinelo Avendaño
Revised by Susana Hurlich