Havana: Control Panel of Cuban Art

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The HSV Gallery occupies a special place within this project, because its creation started from a cultural initiative. With an intention of gathering photographs on architecture of Havana city as a referent, its culture and idiosyncrasy grew in a wide range of contents about Cuban art that we are interested on promoting through the web.

This section will include three main parts:

  1. Handouts on art of Havana from the foundation of the Arts Academy San Alejandro up to date;
  2. Inventory of Artists;
  3. Design in the cultural movement of Havana

These themes came into being from the actual need of uniting in the same place (inexistent on internet) a great deal of information and memories that describe the everyday events on Art in Havana. Memories that are more dispersed every day in the history of Cuban Art and architecture; however, they are appealing to that public that a good feeling for the culture of a controversial city that is fascinating, mysterious and political, but above all it is an artistic city.     

The section Handouts will emphasize on the development of Art in Havana from the mechanisms of its art institutions, where the city has been an unquestionable geographical axis. With a series of interesting texts that provide data and curiosities we would like to integrate the evolution process (regression in some cases) that the Cuban/Havana Art has gone through; we can include a history that has been certainly very rich and dynamic based on its cultural (either private or state initiatives) and academic institutions, on promotional events (national or international) and on the journeys of its artistic movements.

This wide range of subjects will be supported on three main stages. The first will start with the creation of two cardinal institutions of the colonial period: The Royal Economic Society Friends of the Country (SEAP, 1793) and The Drawing and Painting Academy of San Alejandro (1818). And it will continue with the process called Change of Century, the Cuban avant-garde, the creation of the Museum of Cuban Art (1913), the foundation of activist institutions and associations, such as: the Association of Painters and Sculptors (1916), the Hispanic-Cuban Culture Institution (1926), the Lyceum (1928), among many others initiatives that supported and defined the cultural atmosphere of Havana up to 1959.

A second journey will start with the arrival of the Revolution and its cultural policy. The process of creation of new institutions as the House of Americas (1959), the High Institute of Arts (ISA, 1976), the Art Center Wilfredo Lam (1983), the Center for the Development of Visual Arts (1989), the transformation and vanishing of some organizations due to new state processes. The new artistic trends from the decades ‘60, ‘70, ‘80 and ’90, some national and international exhibitions and the foundation of creative groups, will also be subject-matters.

A third stage will be dedicated to restart the independent promotion in Cuba in the ‘90s due to the economic crisis (the so called Especial Period). This decade brought as a result the establishment of alternative spaces, the formation and development of independent curators, workshops and studios that strongly and coherently promoted Contemporary Art of Havana in the majority of cases; the improvement of the Cuban art market and collecting, etcetera.

The Inventory of Artists is a joint effort and dream to found a space in the site where we have access to contact and update the information and work of a great deal of creators that have made worthy our artistic production. Also, intends to show the work of artists, photographers and intellectuals that have experimented and continue re-meaning Havana as a theme for their works from an aesthetical perspective: symbol, concept, metaphor. We would like to plan this space from interaction and opening, as a means of promoting and interchanging, as a space of updating from the outside to inside and vice versa.

Last, the Design as a creative manifestation will also have a zone of interchange within this gallery. It is indisputable and esteemed the importance it has for the culture of Havana of all times, from its different ways of representation: Industrial, Graphic and Costumes designs. In a first phase, we will make reference to the achievements of the graphic design in culture since 1959, the significance of the foundation of the High Institute of Industrial Design (1984) for its development and influences in the urban dynamic nowadays.

All these sections will form theme sections that can be seen independently, but they will always have, in each of their stages, a common factor: Havana as a central theme, gathering, motive, and control panel of Cuban culture. 

Daymi Coll

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