Cuban art exhibition in the Netherlands

In the Groninger museum in the Netherlands, there is now an exhibition about Cuban art, from 1868 to today.

It includes about 300 works of art. Mainly paintings, drawings, and photos. But also some sculpture and (recent) installations.

This exhibition, Cuba. Art and History from 1868 to Today, is organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana.

The year 1868 is important, as then a rebellion started against Spanish colonial rule and slavery. Slavery in the Spanish colonies was abolished even later than in the Dutch colonies, which already were comparatively late: in 1887.

Cubans kept fighting for independence. In 1899, the United States profited from the fighting in the Spanish colonies, by taking over as colonial master in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; and basically, as neo-colonial master in officially independent Cuba. Cuba had to give Guantanamo Bay to the United States navy; though the treaty limits use of the Cuban territory to “coaling and naval purposes only”. The present use as a torture prison violates that neo-colonial treaty.

In looking at Cuban art from 1868 to now, one should look at this political background. Cuban artists have been influenced by various factors: European art, Mexican art, Afro-Cuban culture such as Cuban carnival imagery, etc.

An oil pinting titled No quiero ir al cielo (I Don't Want to Go to Heaven) by Augusto Garcia Menocal during The Cuba Art and History from 1868 to Today exhibition

One big picture is about the native Cubans, persecuted since the late 15th century by the Spanish conquistadores. It is No quiero ir al cielo (I Don’t Want to Go to Heaven) by Augusto Garcia Menocal. It is about an Indian captured by the invaders for opposing them, and about to be burnt alive at the stake. A priest asks the Indian to convert to Christianity; so, that after his horrible death he may go to heaven. “Do the Spanish soldiers go to heaven”? the Indian asks. “Yes, being Christians”. “Then, I do not want to go to heaven”.

A moving exhibit is an anonymous photo from 1897. It shows a Cuban prisoner in a Spanish “re-concentration” camp. Almost starved to death, he looks like someone in a nazi camp in spring 1945.

Later, I will continue my review of this exhibition on this blog.

Columbus and the USA: here.


20 thoughts on “Cuban art exhibition in the Netherlands

  1. New Mexico looks for export market

    Cuba: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has met Cuban parliament leader Ricardo Alarcon in Havana.

    Mr Richardson met Mr Alarcon on Monday and, on Tuesday, he visited chamber of commerce president Pedro Alvarez and Igor Montero, president of the Cuban government agricultural commerce agency.

    Mr Richardson claimed to have held “productive discussions,” promoting the idea of exporting agricultural products from New Mexico.


  2. Hypocrisy over Cuba’s `political prisoners’

    By Tim Anderson
    September 13, 2009 — Political prisoners and Cuba can be a confusing
    mix, in our times of mass propaganda. Three groups have attracted
    international attention, over the past decade. The first group, 70 or so
    (the “dissidents”), were arrested in March 2003 by the Cuban
    government and charged with taking money from a US program which aims to
    overthrow the Cuban constitution. Amnesty International and many
    European states, along with the US government, immediately declared them
    “prisoners of conscience”. A number have since been released. The
    second group of several hundred (“enemy combatants”) were collected by
    the US government in Afghanistan and Pakistan over 2001-2002 and held
    for many years in concentration camps at a US military base carved out
    of the island of Cuba. International protest built up more slowly, and
    eight years on many are still held without charge or trial.
    The third group of five men (“the Cuban Five”) were arrested in the US
    in 1998 and accused of being spies, for passing on information about
    groups in south Florida that were preparing terrorist attacks on Cuba.
    The US courts have rubber-stamped their convictions. On September 12,
    2009, they completed 11 years in US jails.

    * Read more


  3. TRINIDAD, Cuba, Aug 22 (acn) Researchers from the History Museum and the Archaeology Department of Curator’s Office of this city on the southern coast of Sancti Sipritus confirmed the finding of the first slave cemetery in the ancient Guinia de Soto sugar mill.

    Head specialist of Trinidad’s History Museum Hector Manuel Viera Cartaya, said after with the falling down of a tree and the erosion of the soil, five perfectly-preserved corpses buried in a very organized way, were brought up to the surface.

    The remains have high cheekbones, perfect dentures, wide noses and resistant bones. These, according to experts, are characteristics found in the Africans that were brought to Cuba as slaves. Local specialists also said that the stratum of the soil was unaltered which ratifies the discovery of the cemetery.

    Viera Cartaya explained that burial dates back to late in the 18th century or early in the 1800’s, the period of the highest development of the mills, when there were some 200 slaves in the area, according to texts on the topic.

    After exhaustive field work, experts said that the cemetery was located about 30 meters away from the location of the house of Justo Germán Cantero, owner of the Güinía de Soto and the Buena Vista mills.

    Viera Cartaya said that slave burial grounds discovered in the area and in other regions of Cuba were mostly found close to water streams, in mounds 40 to 50 meters away from the landowner’s house.

    After completing the studies, the remains were taken to the graveyard of the town, Trinidad, which was the third village founded by the Spanish colonizers in Cuba.

    Güinía de Soto became one of the most important mills of the famous valley after Cantero brought from Paris, France, the Derosne train or steam engine that boosted the sugar production.

    From the Cuban News Agency


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